Is HP and stats a test of skill or a test of grinding? Spending 4 hours killing low level monsters to either buy the best weapons/stock potions or have enough stats to breeze through it is meaningless to me but having to learn patterns, calculate likely outcomes and possibly react faster if it is real time is a different matter.
Which is what turns a lot of people off JRPGs in the first place. Grinding makes you feel like you're getting more for your money when in reality it's just a feature to extend gameplay due to the limitations of the medium. Compare to modern games with limitless storage and you can play for tens of hours without feeling you're repeating things. GTA4 took me many hours to 100% but the only thing that got me down was the friggin' pigeons.
You can see this in other games of the time: making the game overly difficult and limiting your lives. Just so you don't finish it in half an hour and say "hey, I paid 50 bucks for this". Compare today with games like Super Meat Boy where your lives are unlimited and you can save after every level, but there are many levels and each one requires skill to proceed.
You can also do soft enforcements of things. If I don't win in ? moves, * minutes or without dropping below X health then I reset and try again. No hacking necessary for that.
Precisely why I love the first Final Fantasy. Four characters of six classes, mix and match to your heart's content. Makes the game easier or harder, and makes you want to come back to it even after completion.