VR Zelda Month: Top 5 Companions

VR_Zelda_Month

Hey, I told you this list thing would be a comprehensive undertaking. Companions are important!

The various Links that have taken up the fight against evil across the many years of Zelda games are only struggling on their own about half the time. A large percentage of them are paired with what you might call sidekicks or companions, a feature that is especially common in the latter Zelda series entries. Ostensibly they are there to help newcomers with the unique features of each game and occasionally with navigation, but each one also serves a narrative purpose and has a unique personality. This has led to some of them taking on cult status. Here are my favourites.

I’m only counting companions that are with Link all the time, including in dungeons. So Linebeck and the King of Red Lions are out of contention for this one.

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VR ZELDA MONTH DISCLAIMER
This list represents my opinion only. I am not asserting any kind of superiority or self-importance by presenting it as I have. My opinion is not fact. If you actually agree with me 100%, that’s scary. Respectful disagreement is welcome. Spoilers may follow.
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5. Ezlo – Minish Cap

Though I haven’t yet finished The Minish Cap, the game’s semi-titular companion, a literal cap who can talk and change Link’s size, is inoffensive and unintrusive enough to leapfrog the only other two companions eligible for this list into fifth place. I’ve seen people praise his wit and charm over the course of the game, but I am unable to comment on that myself. He does have a memorable introduction, though, and he’s the only Zelda series companion that Link actually wears. I would love to have been a fly on the wall when that was suggested during The Minish Cap‘s development. Ezlo is also almost entirely green, which is my favourite colour, so that’s a bonus.
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4. Tatl – Majora’s Mask

Out of all the “orb fairy” companions in the Zelda series, Tatl is in my opinion the best-designed. Sure, she looks almost exactly like Navi from Ocarina of Time, but she has far more personality and a stake in the story of Majora’s Mask that actually feels real. Her primary motivation for helping Link, whom she initially despises, is to reunite with her brother Tael, who has been taken as a kind of de facto prisoner by a skull kid from the Lost Woods. Her sassy streak is reflected in her former friendship with the skull kid, a natural troublemaker, as well as her dialogue. Yet you feel her sadness at his possession by Majora throughout the story. Tatl begins the game with two intimate relationships that have been fractured by the demonic force, and by the end of the game she has formed a memorable third with Link.
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3. Fi – Skyward Sword

It is well-documented that Fi is extremely annoying to veteran Zelda players. She states the obvious far more times than any companion should and oftentimes when manually called out in a tough spot, all she will do is tell you that you are low on health or that the batteries in your Wii remote need changing. However, her story role and robotic, unintentionally humorous dialogue place her as my third favourite sidekick in the series. Her design is awesome, her plot-centric balletic dance scenes and ancient songs are pulled off rather nicely, her musical theme is one of the best tracks on the Skyward Sword soundtrack and her final sequence is genuinely emotional. Also, she’s essentially a sentient sword. Is there anything cooler?
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2. Midna – Twilight Princess

A common favourite among Zelda fans, Midna is essentially the main character of Twilight Princess. Her impish design, slightly scary supernatural abilities and condescending early attitude to farm boy Link make her stand out from most other characters the series has ever come up with, and that’s before the encounter with the false Twilight King Zant at the Lanayru province turns her into both the most sympathetic and the most terrifyingly powerful sidekick in any Zelda game as of yet. Her mega-useful gameplay role matches her story one because without her, Link is pretty much stranded as a wolf who has to run everywhere, is incapable of targeting enemies and can’t jump. Some hero he is.
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1. Princess Zelda – Spirit Tracks

Forget Ocarina of Time, forget The Wind Waker and forget even Skyward Sword – my favourite depiction of the Zelda series’ namesake is found in Spirit Tracks. All the princess of the new continent wants to do is live up to the legacy of her great-great grandmother, the Zelda from The Wind Waker, but that becomes difficult when she is essentially killed within the first few hours of gameplay (it’s never actually stated that she dies, but this is a Nintendo game after all). Her spirit then accompanies Link on his journey, not once interrupting his quest with useless information and often actually controllable. Her ability to possess the Phantoms in the Towers of Spirits and work alongside Link to solve puzzles makes her feel closer to the hero than any other incarnation of Zelda, a feeling that is reinforced at the very end of the game in probably the cutest way possible. D’awwwww.

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Honorable Mentions
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Navi – Ocarina of Time
Is it really “honorable” if you end up here? I mean there are only like seven sidekicks in the Zelda series! It’s well-documented how annoying Navi is and the story reason behind her inclusion is among the least interesting things in Ocarina of Time. Navi the fairy is an incidental gaming legend, to be sure, but it ain’t because she’s a good character and she is off this list for a reason.

Ciela – Phantom Hourglass
I didn’t play a whole heap of Phantom Hourglass and so I acknowledge that this opinion is hardly fully formed, but I never really took a liking to the game’s resident fairy, Ciela. She seems shoehorned into the gameplay for the sake of adding some sparkle – literally – to the game’s imperfect touch controls and her only memorable dialogue moments came as a reactionary foil to the hilarious Linebeck.

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