Being the hero of a video game is one of the best parts of playing. Many boot up a console to escape the real world for a while, to fall into a fantasy where you help to save the world.
Along the way, you generally meet many NPCs…
Non-playable characters, or NPCs, make up the bulk of video game worlds. Generally, they’re there to help point you in the right direction if not to just decorate the scenery. Not many have lives, if you will, outside of being in a convenient place for the hero.
Then there are others who, for all intents and purposes, have a life outside of the hero’s role of the game. For example, there’s Malon of LonLon Ranch from the Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time. As Child Link, you meet her in Hyrule Castle Town and she gives you an egg that will hatch into a cucco (or chicken, for those of you who many not play the Legend of Zelda games) to wake up her father who is blocking your entrance to the castle.
Honestly, that’s really the only required interaction with Malon in the game. Any other interactions, either as Child or Adult Link, are optional.
Of course, the majority of players go out of their way to visit the ranch in order to gain Epona the horse later in the game. If you do go through with these interactions, you learn about Malon’s backstory, about her mother, her father, and the ranch’s farmhand Ingo. As an adult, she stays on the ranch despite the hardships of it being under Ingo’s control because she wants to protect the horses. She’s an NPC in the game, but she has a backstory and life just as the main character does.
She’s a hero of her own story, even though she doesn’t directly impact Link’s. I think it’s an awesome development for her part, considering she’s an NPC. To give that kind of depth to an NPC is one of the many reasons why Ocarina of Time holds a special place in my heart.
What do you think of NPCs? Do you have any favorites?