A recurring or sidekick character whose purpose is to fill you in on elements of the interface and your abilities. Sometimes, they will also offer hints or help players Notice This. Might also be Mission Control.
Many more recent games with Heroic Mimes use this so the game has a character who can actually have reactions to the plot, and actually engage in dialogue with other NPCs. In this case, they not only act as a tutorial of sorts, but keep track of the story and help move it along. Some sidekicks have a tendency to do this too often, at which point the player is likely to shout, "Stop Helping Me!"
Frequently a Fairy Companion, hence the name, or a Small Annoying Creature.
Midna from Twilight Princess offers helpful services the others didn't (such as warping), but her expository knowledge is limited to the dark world. Her poor attitude doesn't help much either, but makes part of her charm. Also, she doesn't bug you as often*
you usually have to explicitly ask for her help
and her alert sound is a few quiet words in Simlish rather than a shrill yell.
Ciela from Phantom Hourglass. At least she also acts as a cursor, bugs an NPC instead of you, and she actually helps in battle...when you have enough courage orbs anyway. The fact that she uses the same "Hey!" as Navi is bound to send shivers down your spine upon first meeting her, though. In a bit of irony, when you unlock the hammer, Ciela will wield it and Link will point her where to hit, giving him the chance to be the annoying one (if he wasn't mute anyway).
The Exposition Fairy of The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword (and the example given at the top of the page) is Fi, the Spock-Speaking spirit of your sword. She can give the most info of any Exposition Fairy in the series. If you can lock onto it, friend, foe, random critter or dungeon device, she has info on it. At the tap of a button she'll analyze boss moves (as well as the arenas in which you fight them) to give you strategies, provide a recap of what's happened recently, remind you of what you should do next, tell you how many times you've killed a monster in addition to your previous record when it comes to fighting that monster, has a ton of helpful rumors and hints, will provide info on your current location and how suited the items you have in your pack are to your current location/situation, keeps track of how long you've played during the current session and overall...and this is just a summary of what she can tell you when you ask.
Hilariously, these are actual fairies in the Atelier series; you run into one in the first game who explains how the fairies can be used to help around the workshop, and in Atelier Iris 1 and Atelier Annie, you have a fairy as part of the party whose primary purpose is to explain almost all game mechanics.
Issun from Okami, acting in a role similar to that of Link's sidekicks, providing exposition, tutorial information, and acting as the supplement mouthpiece for the silent hero.
Bajarl in Monster Rancher EVO, although he has the distinct mercy of being inside a pot-looking container, so he only gives you hints if you want him to.
Your AI sidekick Arthur in the second and third The Journeyman Project games offers hints and color commentary.
During a videogame-based plot arc in Yu-Gi-Oh!, when a faerie appears to the gang, Joey explains that "Games like this always have a faerie or something to explain how the game works."
Yu Gi Oh The Abridged Series parodied the concept by giving the fairy the voice of Navi from Ocarina of Time—namely her constant "Hey! Listen!"—and having Joey turn homicidal towards it.
Adam, Samus's AI advisor in Metroid Fusion. She has no choice but to listen to him, as he was part of the deal that got her a replacement spaceship; he's eventually revealed to be part of a Government Conspiracy, but pulls a Heel Face Turn in the closing moments of the game.
In Metroid Prime 3, Fleet Admiral Dane and Aurora Units 242 and 217 serve a similar role. In the previous two Prime games, Samus's Cool Ship would occasionally send hints on where to go next.
Metroid: Other M has you meeting the real Adam on whose personality the above-mentioned AI is based. He serves primarily as Mission Control, but he's on your ear piece through most of the game guiding the player through the story.
In Mario & Luigi: Partners in Time, an anthropomorphic suitcase serves as both your Ninja Butterfly and your inventory menu! He has a bad habit of making up adjectives to describe your situation. Like the evil minion Fawful from the previous Mario and Luigi, his mannerisms are a parody of bad video game translations.
This is parodied in Super Mario Bros. Z where Stuffwell (the talking suitcase) will always exclaim "BACK TO ADVENTURE!!!" as he frequently did following monologues in Partners in Time. This eventually prompts Sonic to tell him to shut up.
Spyro the Dragon usually had a dragonfly named Sparx to help him out. But for anything beyond this little insect's ken, he also had the fairy Zoe and the Dragon Elders that helped him.
In the recent Spyro Retcon, Sparx's role has shifted from this to being pretty much resident Deadpan Snarker. The role has been taken up almost entirely by the Dragon Elders.
Later Sonic the Hedgehog games had this, the two most recognizable being Tikal and Omochao. Like Navi, they are on the whole loathed by Sonic players: Tikal's advice is vague and oftentimes unhelpful, whereas Omochao is Captain Obvious. The difference between the two: Omochao can be picked up and thrown at enemies/shot at by your mecha, which satisfies a player's seething hatred for the little robot and edges him out past Tikal in usefulness, if barely. Oh, and Tikal actually matters to the plot.
This is continued in Sonic Unleashed with Chip. Thankfully, he usually sticks to cutscenes and doesn't usually interfere with actual gameplay, although it makes you wonder how he knows all that stuff after losing his memory and having been asleep in the centre of the planet for millions of years.
Chip doesn't narrate anything when triggered in the PS360 version of the game, however he goes into Stop Helping Me! territory in the WiiS2 version, where he appears during the tutorial levels and the final boss, narrates things, and this is out of your control.
Replacing all of those in Sonic Colors, is Tails himself. Much like Tikal, Omochao, and 360-Chip, Tails only talks when you touch a "?" circle. Tails' text can be skipped, however, possibly Subverting the Stop Helping Me! portion of this trope. A further subversion occurs when facing the final boss: There's a "?" at the start, but Tails' voice is replaced with static, so he can't help.
There's always someone helping you in Shadow the Hedgehog. If Shadow is currently doing a Dark Mission, it's either "Doom's Eye" (an extension of the Black Arms) or Dr. Eggman; if he's doing a Heroic Mission, it's one of the heroes of the franchise, like Sonic, Tails, Knuckles, Rouge, and others. (Regardless, their persitant advice often gets to the Stop Helping Me! point.)
In the later Mega Man X series, you're helped by "Navis" (natch), that explain some of the perils you encounter in the game. Much like Zelda's Navi, they bug the player with an alarming frequency, and during their first appearance, you could not just ignore them and move on. They became much more helpful in X8, where they can be unlocked as hidden playable characters.
In Super Paper Mario, you have a "Pixl" named Tippi, a butterfly, who identifies objects, gives hints, and, since Mario is a Heroic Mime, helps move the dialog along. She also turns out to be the former loved one of the Big Bad. It was his despair at her disappearance that led him to seek the destruction of the multiverse, and therefore, bring about the events of the game.
In the previous Paper Mario games, these roles are generally filled by Mario's other partners—the first of which, a Goomba in both games, is explicitly a specialist at providing information. Their special ability is giving you hints, and providing flavorful information about the world.
Like Ford Cruller farther down the page, Goombario and Goombella are blissfully silent until you decide to harass them.
The Cheshire Cat, in American McGee's Alice, serves this role, giving you somewhat cryptic clues to solve puzzles. You can summon him up, as well, but most of the time his advice is unhelpful and rather disturbing. Why, oh why, are you telling me "Only the insane equate pain with success" or "There's an ugly name for those who do things the hard way"?
Yomi in Terranigma. Of course, he turns out to be evil and attempts to orchestrate the main character's death once he's outlived his usefulness, but dies himself and is replaced with his Light Gaia counterpart.
However, given that Ark is NOT a Silent Protagonist like many of the protagonists in the entries here, Yomi actually doesn't appear in cutscenes too often in the game. Most of the time you can probably forget that he's even traveling with you.
Gouto in Devil Summoner: Raidou Kuzunoha vs. The Soulless Army acts as a helping hand to what the player must do, and also acts as Raidou's 'voice' when it comes interacting with other characters—with Raidou being one of MegaTen's many Silent Protagonists. Gouto is in reality the first of the Raidou Kuzunoha Devil summoners, and thus has a personal interest in making sure the current Raidou is doing his job correctly.
In Zork: Grand Inquisitor, you receive advice and companionship from a lantern possessed by the spirit of Dungeon Master Dalboz.
In the Xbox Ninja Gaiden game, Ayane will occasionally toss kunai with notes written on them to help Ryu Hayabusa get through his quest. She, being a ninja-in-training, does all of her work from the shadows.
Bottles and his relatives play this role in the Banjo-Kazooie games. That and being the butt of Kazooie's endless torrent of insults and cynical remarks to which they act accordingly. And by "act accordingly" I mean "insult her back at every opportunity".
Gnarl in Overlord explains not only how the controls, but frequently what you should do next.
The Tip Blocks from the Yoshis Island series. They're scattered throughout the landscape, and provide useful info to the Yoshis when the Yoshis hit them.
Precursor series Super Mario World also had tip blocks shaped like speakers that only activate when hit from below.
Starlancer has Moose, your WSO sitting behind you in the cockpit and giving you (quite timely) warnings about incoming missiles or enemy fighters on your six. Completely justified in that he's supposed to be running the fighter's sensors and electronics, so he's pretty much doing his job.
Hand of God made your cursor the Ninja Butterfly—she'd draw your attention to important plot points, warn you when your inventory was getting full, or snark at you for picking up low-quality equipment.
Dr. Ort-Meyer in the first level of Hitman, who turns out in the end to be the Big Bad.
In Carn Evil, Umlaut, a Monster Clown skull, gives you a taunting rhyme on the nature of each area. In the final boss battle, you get to kill him.
Blood Rayne has Mynce, another dhampir who explains your strengths and weaknesses during cutscenes as well as dragging you through the tutorial.
Granted, the burnination of Strong Badia played a part, but it was mainly Homestar.
Fatima from Anachronox, who is not only the game's actual mouse pointer, but also powers one of Boots' skills.
In Primal Jen can ask Scree for help. In Count Raum's Mansion in Aetha an array of severed heads serve this purpose in a cutscene. In the mansion proper various severed heads randomly hanging around shout advice and encouragement.
Bruce Campbell provides his vocal talents as the Narrator/EF in the video game adaptations of the Spider-Man films with his trademark dry humor.
In Prince of Persia: The Two Thrones, the Prince gets one in the form of the Dark Prince, his own bloodthirsty alter ego, who first manifests as a gruff but helpful voice in his head.
In the Soul Reaver installments of the Legacy of Kain series, the (usually disembodied) voice of the Elder God serves this function—mostly.
Harvest Moon: Animal Parade's Finn follows the character (in the form of a Navi-like glowing ball outside of cutscenes) and tells him or her about the plot and prods the character to ring the bells, meet with the Harvest Goddess, and other plot-advancing actions.
The original Legacy of Kain has the odd situation of the hero Kain being his own Exposition Fairy. The result is that he'll go into rambling, fully voice-acted monologues triggered just by the player examining the surroundings, and continue his monologue even while slashing his way through the enemies. By the time the sequels roll around with him as the antagonist, he's thankfully grown a bit more taciturn. Otherwise, we might've had dialogue like "so I had Raziel thrown into the lake. The lake which, as a vampire, I knew well would provide a fittingly painful end to the heresy of his newly formed wings. Yes, those wings, vampiric wings which I'd not heard the likes of since the days of Janos Audron, whose dripping heart I'd used to heal myself many times in my own battles. And such battles they were too..."
Iwazaru of Killer7 drops into view on occasion (he hangs from a bungee cord) and informs the title assassins of what they need to do next, often by insulting them (for example, when he complains about MASK DE Smith, you have to switch to MASK to advance). The ending reveals that Iwazaru is Kun Lan in disguise, explaining why someone supposedly loyal to the Smiths has so little respect.
Aside from the gimp, the Smiths travel with an entire retinue of 'quirky' exposition ghosts. Easygoing Travis (no relation) also offers hints and is generally more trustworthy, Kess Bloodysunday is a shell-shocked ghost kid who tells you how to beat the bosses, and severed head Susie... the less said the better.
In Lost Winds, the Exposition Fairy also serves as the Wii remote pointer, and the source of your wind-related powers. Pushing a button causes her to offer up a hint, and moving the pointer while holding A or B will make her summon gusts or slipstreams, respectively (once you gain those abilities, anyway). She occasionally speaks to other characters as well.
In Tron 2.0, Jet gets a Byte (an upgrade from the simple Bit of the movie) to instruct and acclimate him to the Electronic World.
The first God Of War was originally supposed to have one of these at the start of the first game to explain the controls and such. And then just for the hell of it (combined with a heavy dose of 'didn't see this coming, did ya'), and it was going to be killed by that first Hydra head that surprises you on the boat.
Puck, the six-inch Shakesperian robot in the video game adaptation of Arthur C. Clarke's Rama series, might be an example of this. His most useful comment is "There appears to be an object of some interest lying on the ground."
EDI from Mass Effect 2 offers advice during missions and while aboard the Normandy.
Jett Rocket has helpful droids to give him advice. They also activate certain cannons for him.
In The Dog Island we have Petashi, a cute little...err...something that only the player can see —and hear, for that matter— who follows you all through the game, providing advice and pushing you into plot-important actions. He even goes as far as appearing as cursor in the Menu. Unfortunately, all characters in the game are mute, so we never get to actually hear his funny remarks.
In Pokemon Colosseum, there is Wes' sidekick Rui. After he rescues her, she follows him around, and is able to see Shadow Pokemon for what they are, pointing them out whenever an enemy uses one in a Pokemon battle. (This is why the villains were trying to kidnap her in the first place.)
The Watcher in Darksiders is bound to War's artificial arm by the Council to ensure that War does his duty. He is probably one of the most dickish examples of this trope ever, constantly treating War like a dog on a leash. He occasionally has some good advice, especially during boss fights, but that doesn't make up for being a Jerkass. It's pretty satisfying to see War pop the Watcher's head like a grape when he loses his power over War.
Sunny, Mezzo's Umbreon in We Are All Pokemon Trainers, takes this role in an October 2011 sideplot, as a Shout Out to the exposition fairies in Zelda. Included is the ability to cast portals on the ground, Midna-style, justified in that he's a Dark-type Pokémon. Fortunately, he givescompetentadvice.
Parodied in Sequelitis, in which Egoraptor points out that games of the 8-bit and 16-bit era managed fine without them and were just cleverly designed so the player could teach themselves how to play them. He does a recurring sketch based on if the first Mega Man 1 game had had Roll as an unnecessary, annoying Exposition Fairy whose signature call is a high-pitched "Mega Man! Mega Man!" This has sense entered Memetic Mutation, with many Let's Players saying "Mega Man! Mega Man!" when they run into an Exposition Fairy.
Aranea from Homestuck is a parody of this type of character, being completely addicted to explaining things that people already know to such an extent that she abandons her much more useful plans just to lug around a Peanuts-style Exposition Stand so she can pay people to listen to her. For bonus points, she has reached god tier and has the insectoid wings that come with it, meaning she literally is a fairy of a sort.
The Heart from Dishonored plays with this trope as, unlike most fairies, it only provides exposition on demand, but also averts the usual irritating nature of this trope by being creepyashell - literally a human heart carried around in Corvo's hand that beats when close to an upgrade and whispers disturbing secrets to him in his mind. To make it especially charming, the Heart is implied to be that of the murdered Empress Jessamine Kaldwin, the woman he had sworn to protect with his life, who may have been Corvo's lover and whose death prompted his vengeful rampage.
The AI Biochip is shown in The Journeyman Project: Pegasus Prime, replacing the text message window in Turbo. She pretty much serves as the game's Captain Obvious, has the catchphrase "Extreme Caution Advised", and congratulates Agent 5 only once.
Arthur appears in Buried in Time and Legacy of Time. He has quite a few historical facts and occasionally makes Shout Outs, though this is lampshaded in that his creator's obsession with 20th century media "corrupted" Arthur.
In the 1998 version of Microsoft Office, Microsoft included a little avatar named Clippy (since it looked like a paperclip) who would try and assist the user if it looked like they were doing something. The Memetic Mutation line "It looks like you're trying to write a letter" with several options to help came from this. Needless to say, Clippy and the entire concept was axed after the 2003 version.