What Are Your Thoughts on Grinding?

-by Dylan DiBona

A simple roadblock often happens in JRPGs and RPGs alike; you fight your way through the small baddies and finally come across a boss, and when you fight the boss you get absolutely wrecked. So what is a simple fix? Go back and kill more minions until you level up a few times! For some, this is boring and repetitive, but for others this is a way of getting more playtime out of their games. This concept is “grinding”, but is it a bad thing?

Image result for Persona 4

Persona 4, a game I adore was a necessary grindfest at times

My opinion on grinding is kind of like a see-saw; some days I accept and even like the concept while others I despise it like I always have. I’ll never forget having a discussion with a high-school acquaintance about Pokémon when emulators on iPhones became a big deal. It went something like this (The non-bold text is me):

“I bet you’re the type of guy who tries to avoid battles.”

“They’re annoying! They break the flow of the game.”

“Battles are the game!”

It’s such a simple concept but it’s true. I’ve never really heard anybody praise JRPG overworlds; those compliments are usually saved for 3D platformers and Zelda games. The overworld and towns are merely a point of conveyance and comfort to the player. Nobody says “I can’t wait to pick up Final Fantasy VI to explore the world!” Sure, exploring is a beautiful and essential part of the package, but it’s the new party members and abilities that are the meat of the game. Grinding does break the flow of narrative, but is it a sign of an unbalanced game?

JRPGs are usually all about the numbers so let’s keep with that trend. If you’re exploring a dungeon and the enemies are all about level 5 but the boss is level 10, that isn’t too bad. In fact it’s more than likely that the developers intended for you to spend some extra time killing monsters and gaining new abilities. But if said level 5 weaklings are accompanied by a level 16 boss, then something is wrong. There’s too much of a gap between numbers and therefore abilities. A boss should never obliterate your party in seconds; instead they should seem just slightly out of your reach but possible with some training.

Image result for dragon quest 2

Due to budget and time constraints, the original NES version of Dragon Quest II is unbelievably unbalanced towards the end.

The quicker games like Chrono Trigger don’t require  any grinding at all unless you’re strategically avoiding enemies on the field. For some, this is a point of praise because this means that Chrono Trigger is streamlined and almost deliberately designed with every step. This is the same genre that once had extremely hard to find directions, so add on some necessary grinding and you may have yourself an obnoxious experience.

So what do you guys think about grinding? Let me know down below and I’ll do my best to reply! As always, thanks for reading.


6 thoughts on “What Are Your Thoughts on Grinding?

  1. I always saw the _need_ to grind as poor game design, honestly. Forcing a player to partake in monotonous battles without some system in place to make it quicker seems like artificially fluffing up the size of the game and padding the playtime. In some games, it can be entertaining, but it others it’s just brutal.

    Take Etrian Odyssey, for example. I played IV: Legends of the Titan on the 3DS which is a known grindfest, like a lot of Atlus games. I kept trying to strategize and take out enemies correctly, and I just continued to fail. Searching for battle strategies, I was surprised to see that “you need to grind. You’re too underleveled” was the most common response.

    “OK”, I thought, “then I’ll grind a bit.” I grinded and grinded, and since leveling in EOIV takes forever, it took me a good two hours before I finally leveled up enough to make the game playable. I finally beat the first dungeon, and moved on to the second one.

    Then another thing happened – I had the same issue as before. It even got to a point where it was suggested that I TAPE DOWN the buttons on my 3DS and leave it running overnight, because you can technically battle by holding down two buttons. This was completely insulting to me, and I immediately quit playing the game.

    Now, examples of good grinding: Ys games when playing on a higher difficulty (it’s fun), Final Fantasy X (it’s fast), Earthbound (it’s fast and if you’re overleveled for a battle, you automatically win it upon starting it). Some games do it right, some do it horribly, horribly wrong.

    Heck, I think Pokemon has the worst grinding ever, at least without the EXP Share turned on. Of course, with Pokemon games you run the risk of over-leveling with EXP Share, so you need to be responsible with it.

    Overall, not a fan of grinding to progress the story. At all. But if it’s just to make your life a little easier, it’s alright by me.

    Liked by 3 people

      • I had the same problem with Earthbound initially! I played it for 2 freaken hours and barely got anywhere in the first town. It took another hour before I “got” it and then after that it was smooth sailing. You’ve gotta get a certain understanding of the game before trying to press on from Onett, sometimes the easiest way out isn’t the most obvious. Earthbound is one weird game!

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Put simply, is the combat consistently enjoyable and varied enough to remain fresh? If so then grinding stops being a chore and is just part of the game. I can’t think of many games that have done that well though.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Or you can go the route of The Last Story, and literally have an in-game circle you walk into as many times as you want to keep spawning baddies in the same spot so you can grind without wasting time wandering around. But yeah, I do prefer when I don’t have to purposefully grind, or if I’m encouraged to explore and – oh, look! I’ve conveniently leveled enough for the next plot point in the game!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I’m one of those old-schoolers who doesn’t mind a grind too much. That could possibly have something to do with not having much free time to game though: smaller battles mean I can get in an hour of gaming after work and still feel as if I’m making progress towards an end goal. It means it takes me ages to finish RPGs but I get there eventually!

    Liked by 1 person

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