I have a love-hate relationship with grinding (doing extra battles in order to advance character levels) in videogames. I resent it when I have to do it in something like Final Fantasy VIII or Dragon Quest IX, but the Pokémon series is perhaps the one Japanese games franchise where I have been perfectly happy to level up via fighting random battles again. and again, and again. Perhaps this is mainly down to Pokémon Blue being the first videogame I played and completed.
Pokémon is a franchise that I’ve played most main series iterations of. The only generation I’ve missed out on is Black/White and their direct sequels. I bought X/Y due to the well publicised graphical changes, and this has so far been a welcome change from the older styles of the games. But there is one thing that I’ve felt like I’ve been missing out since getting X on launch day: the need to grind.
I’m about fourteen hours in, have gotten the first two gym badges and I did this all without running around bits of tall grass for prolonged periods of time. I’ll admit that I’ve got the EXP Share turned on in my Key Items, this is because the mini games in the game have removed the need to even repeatedly fight certain types of Pokémon in order to increase particular stats – the stats my Pokémon squad needs to have improved. So when I have the time to play, I’m just breezing through things.
There is something I have noticed in not having to grind though, an advantage it has provided – I’m paying more attention to the story of the game. And there’s certainly a great deal more story in this game in comparison to the several of the early generations and even more than Pearl/Diamond. Surrounded by a group of peers who you encounter frequently and the sinister forces working in the game as the story’s antagonists whose reason for being is quite elaborate – you wouldn’t want to be battling too much.
Yet it’s amazing how early on the Day Care centre is introduced. They might not end up with the moves I want, but I could have even more ‘mons capable of kicking ass than I have space in my bag. Power is easy to obtain in this game.
Meanwhile, as I’m visiting a palace here and talking to a helpful soul there… I’m picking-up more on the world’s background. Several times I’ve encountered people and places who have referenced a great war that the Kalos Region was once involved in many thousands of years before and the long lasting effects it’s had on the region. The only war reference (and as far as I’m concerned it was a different war) I’ve previously encountered in the series (Blue/Red) didn’t go into as much detail (Lt. Surge, the Thunder Badge gym leader talks about it). Here instead people all over the place keep referencing this ancient war. And it’s cool, from a world building aspect.
But I am finding it weird, still, that I don’t have to spend hours levelling-up my ‘mons in random battles. I suppose the reason I find this unpleasant, which I’m sure wasn’t Game Freak’s intentions, is because it doesn’t felt like I’ve earned the progress. Whereas in the older games, getting a Pokémon to level 15 would be a huge achievement, but this time I passed by the level with no worries. It felt wrong to be concerned that my Pokémon would reach level 30 before I had the second gym badge. And a level 15 Snorlax?
Don’t take this as a huge dig at the game, I am enjoying it. But I think I am missing the grind.