Pacing is a very important aspect to many games. I’d dare say it may be one of the most vital features to any game that emphasizes action as the game’s play style. Unfortunately, a developer will occasionally throw in something that gums this up. It may be a feature, it could be a level/world/area, or it could even part of the plot in the case of RPGs which aren’t known for their break-neck paces.
Final Fantasy XII has awful pacing problems stemming from just about everything unrelated to the main game. I constantly felt as thought the game was trying to distract me away from the actual plot with diversions such as Monster Hunting, long side quests, unejoyable minigames (the fishing one is just screwed up), and at least one boss battle that lasted over 40 minutes due to the sheer amount of HP. Every time I’d come away from the latest batch of optional stuff, I’d feel as if I had forgotten what I was even doing before I started. More than once I had to make a quick restart file just to recap the storyline for myself.
Legend of Zelda: Phantom Hourglass had you returning to the same dungeon every time you would complete a part of the game, seeing you go deeper and deeper, with an emphasis on “not being seen”. The steamboat isn’t quite as monotonous as the Ship of Red Lions from Wind Waker, but can still get a bit boring. Likewise the train sections of Spirit Tracks might be more enjoyable if I didn’t constantly have to watch out for enemy trains that could one-hit-kill you. Also, the plot literally comes to a dead stop for most of the game which actually caused me to become rather bored while playing as there didn’t seem to be much point. Typically, Zelda games are pretty good at maintaining an even pacing, so these two were rather jarring in that respect.
Kingdom Hearts is a pretty fast-paced game ordinarily, and even when you’re doing those annoying Olympus Colosseum battles it’s still going strong because you’re staying active. Re:Coded, however, has their own unique spin on the colosseum that pretty much puts me to sleep when I’m playing. This is a series known for its action-packed fights where you’re dodging around enemies, pulling off combos and casting multiple spells in quick succession. But that all changes when you get to this world in Coded, because suddenly it’s “turn based combat” and the fights can feel like their dragging on after a while. Hell, the protagonist even complains about how long they’ve been doing this as you go into the 30 Layer version, but his companions chide him about it. The battles pretty much consist of you staying perfectly still and pressing A in vain attempts perform combos, you can’t control who you attack, and you must press Y at the right time in order to block. The whole thing flies smack in the face of the rest of the game.
Even DOOM could have times where the game slowed to a crawl as you’ve destroyed all the enemies but are now stuck trying to find that one last key or figure out how to make your way to the exit, and you find yourself backtracking through body-filled corridors with nothing much going on.
Not all games suffer from this of course, and slower games typically don’t have pacing issues. Grinding in Final Fantasy VI feels quite different from grinding in Chrono Trigger, and thought I love both games dearly, you’re much more likely to notice the grind in the former. Or Secret of Mana, another wonderful game I love, which still requires you to train up your magic once you receive it by casting it repeatedly. The idea is that you’ll be using it constantly so it’ll just level up on its own, but in reality MP restoring items are expensive or not very abundant and are typically only used for buffing, healing, or in boss fights.. which is not where you want to be when you discover you never leveled the elemental the boss is weak to.