-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?
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.
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.