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Do the pre-XY Pokemon games deserve their reputation of being "grindy"?


Not a Very Well-Known Member
This is an accusation that I often see thrown around whenever there is discourse about the forced EXP share. Whenever someone defends the EXP share it's because "the older games were grindy and this means you don't have to grind anymore".

However, I've seen players object to that saying "You don't need to grind to beat the Pokemon games, these are games literally meant for children. I am able to do that! That sounds like a skill issue." There are even successful youtube playthroughs out there where people give themselves a "no grinding" rule or even beating the games with a "no experience points" cheat (even beating Red in both GSC and HGSS!) There's also the point that most JRPGs are designed to have their bosses be stronger than the player which suggests that players are intended to fight boss trainers at a level disadvantage, not at the same level.

Then I've seen the other side of the argument respond to the proof of concept that the strategies used in "no grinding/exp" playthroughs are wayyy too impractible and RNG-reliant that you may as well just grind. I remember when I used a youtuber's HGSS monotype Bug playthrough with a "no grinding" rule as an argument that you don't need to grind to beat the games without the XY-styled EXP share, I got a response that was "Did you even watch the playthrough yourself? That player heavily relied on the RNG from Scizor's Attract to win against the champion. It must have taken several resets to win that battle."

While it is true that you never needed to grind to beat a Pokemon game, was it really the most practicable choice to most players before the modern EXP share?


Doing Their Best
With some usage of the various status moves you can overcome a slight level disadvantage, though to be fair back when we were kids we likely thought anything that does not deal damage is useless. The Johto games can be a bit grindy if you go with a full team of six or use a late-game Pokemon other than the Red Gyarados or Ho-oh/Lugia.


Avid Pokemon TCG Card collector.
With old games very much yes. Every exp. share tool only helps 1 pokemon at a time it's super tedious if you don't have a
insane ammount of patience.
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Cerulean Blues
Most of them definitely. Like the Gen 1 and 2 games especially because Gen 1 lacked trainer rematches aside from the E4 iirc and Johto had a horrible leveling curve. Even the Gen 3 and 4 games were guilty of requiring too much grinding.


I can't imagine beating any of the older games without having to do some level grinding. Just battling trainers doesn't give enough experience from what I remember, and I hate being unleveled against Gym Leaders for example even when I have a type advantage against them. Grinding was a necessary evil.


Well-Known Member
Gym leaders are limited to a type, they rarely use items or more than 3 pokémon and their team usually only has one strong opponent.

Spending that much time on grinding was not really a necessity, but a choice.


Well-Known Member
The earlier gens I’d say so. There’s large level spikes for E4 especially and the limited team/move options don’t help. You’ll be relying on a lot of items, or face them several times to devise a strategy. But I guess that’s part of the point, it’s not supposed to be easy

Gen V I don’t think is that bad. The E4 are all late 40s and only have 4 mons. The 8th gym and victory road does prep you for ~45 anyway. You also get a legend for N/Ghetsis


Funky Kong Supremacy
No, not really. Only time I'd ever grind is if an evolution or a good move was a level away before a boss fight. Even when I Nuzlocke I often don't go for the self imposed level caps because I'm too lazy to grind lol. I think having a basic understanding of the games mechnaics should help make up for any level disadvantages unless you're like >6-10+ levels below.


Sticky & Sweet
Hell yeah the older games were grindy. Johto was the worst region for grinding, I remember grinding a lot more than normal in Heart Gold and Soul Silver even with trainer rematches through the PokeGear being a thing. Compared to DPPT it was hard just to get above Lv 50 by the time I reached the Johto Elite 4.

Sceptile Leaf Blade

Nighttime Guardian
Depends on how you define grinding. If you just fight wild Pokémon you encounter on the way instead of Repel through everything it makes a huge difference. Also team composition matters a lot, some Pokémon are much more powerful than others, like Lapras in Johto is super strong because it gets great bulk and great moves like Ice Beam by level, while some Pokémon in gen 2 like Gligar don't even get STAB moves. You also really don't need to keep up with the levels of the bosses, I was around level 36 or so when beating Lance in my last Crystal playthrough and didn't have much trouble with him. Will was probably the hardest in the Elite Four because all his Pokémon have different weaknesses and they all hit hard with Psychic.


Gives 'em the slip..
Extremely cumbersome. We forget how far we’ve come. Gen III has the distinction of just being hard to do much of anything in, while Gen IV was just slow with random encounters. Once Super Training came along, things went swimmingly. Now you just slap a Power item on and go to town. Effort trained an Annihilape in 35 minutes this morning, done.

I will always remember just how horrible Gen III was and how lucky we were to get a second chance with ORAS. Truly the most spectacular of the remakes.


Not a Very Well-Known Member
I decided to revisit this topic after finishing a playthrough of Pokemon Yellow with a self-imposed rule that I would not grind off wild Pokemon. I only fought all the trainers in the region.

I noticed that a few replies admitted that seeing AI trainers having a higher level displayed on their Pokemon than their own is what motivated them to grind. From my experience though, it is very easy to defeat trainers with higher-leveled Pokemon. Before gen 7, AI Pokemon do not have EVs and in the first three gens, Gym badges would even boost your Pokemon's stats. That means the stat advantage from the higher level isn't really that big.

In my playthrough of Yellow, Koga was when boss trainers had their Pokemon out level mine but none of these fights were genuinely hard. In fact, Lance was the only fight in the game where I actually had to use bag items in the middle of the fight. Even in the champion fight where my Pokemon were level 48~51 and the champion's team was levels 60+, I beat it easily on my first try with my team mainly one or two shotting the entire team.

It IS true that composition is important though. My team was admittedly mostly meta picks, consisting of Nidoking, Gyarados, Kadabra, and Charizard. I even purposefully chose to not have a full party so exp would be less divided and to make space for HM users. I plan to do playthroughs of Crystal, Emerald, FRLG, Platinum, HGSS, and BW1+2 with these same rules to try and see for myself if the "too grindy" reputation is deserved.

EDIT: Just defeated Red in Crystal with a team of level 48~50 Pokemon. I have now decided "the old Pokemon games were grindy" is a lie so big it dwarfs Wailord. : p
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Silence is Purple
It really depends, I guess? For me, not really. Although, Generation II was notorious for the horrible level scaling, so for those games, yes. But, in games where you could get multiple experience shares (D/P/PT through the lottery) (in B/W you could get two and Lucky Eggs were far easier and more accessible to the player) I'd have to say no to those. I do feel there were a lot more trainers in the DS games, though to make it easier to gain EXP.