I'm a big fan of JRPGs, going way back to the 90s. I mostly stick to the mainstream games, and one myth that I always speak up against is grinding. I still maintain that you can play through FF IV, VI, VII, modern Tales Of games, Chrono Trigger, Golden Sun, etc… without grinding. As long as you do a bit of exploring, I've never had to dedicate time in those games to say "Ok, now I'm specifically running in circles just to get XP".
One subset of JRPGs I never really got into were "job based" ones. The poster child for these are FFI and FFV, which let you customize every character. You could have 4 White Mages in your party, or 2 Thiefs, a Conjurer and a Paladin, or what have you. As you level up your jobs, you get abilities you can apply to when you switch to another job. So you could be a Warrior that knows Black Magic, or a Mage that's good with a bow. The idea of these games always entranced me. The reality of them always pushed me away.
One of my quarantine games was Bravely Default. It started off and had beautiful graphics and vistas. And then I hit the first couple of bosses and was finding them really hard. I don't like to look up FAQs or walkthroughs, but I relented, and found that for some of the first bosses you face, you really need to have specific abilities. Like for the Land Turtle, you basically need to have done the optional side quest to get the Spell Fencer class, put it on multiple characters of yours, and likely level the job up to Lvl 4 to use Blizzara to even have a chance of defeating it. I've searched a good bit and can't see another way of doing it.
How the hell are you supposed to know that? If I applied every new job I got to multiple characters, I'd never have leveled a job past Lvl 3! And judging by the equipment and magic being sold in the new towns, I'd be way behind. In this sense, I'd say the game actually discourages exploration and playing around with job configurations, because it's very possible to level yourself in a corner where you have pretty useless characters. But there's 14 levels for each job! How the hell are you supposed to know if the whole path is going to be worthwhile or not?
That issue kept up the whole way through the game. I had trouble with another boss and looked it up. Oh, you just need to get your whole party to level 8 as Ninjas and you get a passive skill that means that boss can never land a hit on you. So what, I'm supposed to just spend the 2 hours leveling up 4 NInjas (which without white magic means a lot of tedious backtracking to inns) just on the off-chance something like that comes in handy? Then the next boss will basically require 4 Salve-Makers to have that cool Level 10 ability.
I've given up on playing Bravely Default. Even for a JRPG vet like me, who put the difficulty down to easy, it's just way too grindy. But I'm curious. Am I approaching these games wrong? These games remind me of what I never liked about old-school WRPGs – the ability to paint yourself into a corner with progression choices. And just adds a layer of stereotypical JPRG grinding (which I still maintain the greats never required). What am I missing here? I see people love these games and want to, but simply can't.
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