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Dante9 said:

Guys, you do realize that you don't have to do all the mini games and side quests, if they don't appeal to you? It's like complaining about a burger joint having too many fries in their meal, or something.
Locking the party for certain story beats is fine by me. Sometimes the story calls for that, and besides, otherwise people would just play their favorites and never even bother to learn what the other characters are about. I know I did that a lot in the OG back in the day.
For me, Remake was pretty much perfection but Rebirth manages to top even that. The openness of the world really lets the game breathe and you simply get more of everything you loved in Remake. Yes, there are many bells and whistles not essential to the main story, but most of them are not mandatory. On the other hand, if you enjoy them, you really get bang for your buck here. I even feel like there should be more side quests, I don't want to be leaving this world and these characters.
Gongaga can be a mess navigation-wise, I'll give you that. I actually thought a part of the map was locked off on purpose and went on the next region, later to realize there was a way to access that area all along.

This is a really tired, weak argument. 

If you are playing the game to the bare minimum, then yes, the mini games are optional. If you are playing the game to the fullest, they are not. If you want the Proto Relic from Junon then you must do Fort Condor. If you want the Proto Relic from Cosmo Canyon then you must do Gears and Gambits. That is a fact. If you plan to Platinum the game then you must play EVERY mini game to Rank III sometimes twice because of a Hard Mode for some reason. Why do that?

The people doing the most complaining about the mini games are the people who intend to play the game to its completion and are annoyed by the "fact" that so much of the completion is mini games ... in a "RPG".  There are several mini games that have weapons and skill books as rewards. If you are one the people who don't like Chadleys Chores, do you know how much exclusive Materia you lose out on? 

Y'know what the biggest problem with the mini games are? They are over designed. Let's use the Piano mini game as an example; why did they choose to use the analog sticks instead of buttons? Most people are not ambidextrous. Most people have trouble looking at 2 different things at the same time then reacting to them with different motions. This mini game would have been better if it was designed around with most the gaming community is already comfortable with. They didn't even consider the possible of analog drift in worn controllers for a mini game that requires precise movements (big issue for me). Having one side be buttons would make that easier for everybody. What about using Theatrhythm as reference? Yakuza's Karaoke? They did it better there. They even included things like Monotones, semitones, minors, cord type? If you don't play the piano then you have NO idea what that shit means. Why include it in a mini game? Because its overthought, overdone. No one asked for a piano simulator, but if you want the completion then you have to sit there and master the mini game. 

You are focused one what's required for the main story. We are talking about the total package.