My Secret To Grinding
When it comes to retro video games, one of the complaints I hear about my favorite genre is that it's so “grind heavy,” as if the person was making snide remarks about how someone prepared the coffee at work. My genre of choice, is of course Japanese role playing games, especially those from the 80's and 90's, and I assure you that the distinction between JRPGs and any other type of RPG is important to note, because with the advent of Dragon Quest, Japan perfected a style of game that required diligence. Unlike Super Mario Brothers or Sonic the Hedgehog, which allowed you to blitz your way through the game, adventures like Final Fantasy and Dragon Quest were hard work! You'd typically start your journey and find yourself facing a challenge from Imps and Slimes. The only thing you could do, was to slowly battle hordes upon hordes of the tiny fiends, and gather enough money. Once you had enough gold or gil, you could buy the best equipment in town, and you'd forge ahead to a new region, with all new monsters which overwhelmed you, and then you'd have to repeat the process all over again, until you were confronted by whichever Demon Lord decided to bring hell upon the Earth.
Needless to say, grinding money, experience, magic points, etc, is a large part of these JRPGs, so it seems the genre is doomed to only the most fanatical and hardcore of retro gamers, but I don't think that it needs to be that way. Grinding is time consuming, sure, but it doesn't need to be something that condemns a game to make in unplayable. The trick I've found over the years isn't to focus on the grinding, but instead something else. For example, one of my favorite ways to unwind, is to pick out a nice record, slap it on my turntable, and then start wandering around in circles in a Japanese role playing game. Rather than focus on the fact that I'm not getting many experience points from each battle, (but if I move on, I'll be destroyed by the enemies in the new area,) I just zone out and listen to music. The predictability of the battles becomes a tool that allows you to go on auto pilot as you make yourself more powerful while removing stress.
With my YouTube series Craig_WK Longplay preparing to wrap up Final Fantasy 6, I had heard a lot of people commenting that the game wasn't very easy to play, due to the grinding, but whenever I found I needed to grind levels, I just put on some music, and got into the zone. I think if you spend too much time focusing on the repetitive actions of some retro games out there, and decide that makes them unplayable, then you lose out on many great games. Be sure to check out Gamezilla Media on YouTube to follow along with my play through of one of the greatest retro JRPGs: Final Fantasy 6.