I honestly never felt like the game required any kind of grinding. Just fight the battles you get into naturally and you're pretty much fine against all but maybe the most difficult optional superbosses. As far as the healing by defending goes, I can remember exactly two bosses in the game where I had to do that even in my first playthrough, and even then it was just because I didn't yet know how they should be fought. In the end, the only real issues I've ever had with the game are its awful voice acting, which was pretty much the norm at the time, and the graphics which are naturally dated these days.
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