Oh no! Pokémon White/Black is my favorite and I’ve been with the series since Gen 1. I’ve completed and enjoyed them all upon release though I’m not a hardcore player who rushes through to get to the post game competitive scene.
Battles feel succinct and the animations express this. Active front Pokémon scales in experience when leveling up, allowing for plenty of party rotations throughout the journey. Leveling is like Suikoden in that regard, ultimately respecting your time. Pokémon in the box are not wasted, they will be rotated a bunch. Iirc I had like 20 in rotation because of the way experience scales.
It does not baby the player with a modern day exp share. I feel that modern Pokémon games lost that personal touch with Pokémon… like in Pokémon Go, it’s all about catching them all, multiple ones, and releasing them. And in the new ones, you keep a Pokémon you never use in your party forever in the back, and in it’s first battle may be level 70 or so in the end, and it’s just weird! Black and White is the last generation with that intimate connection with Pokémon. Every Pokémon you get will get time in the spotlight, and will actually need time in the spotlight to level up, but it’s not grindy at all! The balance is just perfect.
There’s so many beautiful scenes too, multiple vast bridges, a spiraling world wonder of a tower that plays Zelda and Chrono Trigger music (depending on what game you grew up with), nightly Ferris wheel dates, basketball Pokémon trainers, and in the sequels you get access to an exquisite aquarium tube, all over mastered pixel art. It’s just so memorable to me a little more than a decade later, especially compared to past games. If Castelia city isn’t your type of city, you get to visit Village Bridge where talking to musicians spread throughout the city add tunes to the game music, culminating in this relaxing zen state of existence where nothing matters except watching grass gavotte with the wind, time an endless ocean, and Life, tolerable.
Speaking of Zen relaxation and philosophy, the story gets all philosophical with master slave morality, as well as the clash of truth and ideals. Story is interwoven with the Elite 4 this time around rather than in past iterations, and there’s much more weight to the final battle. Several companions travel with you on this journey and there are scenes with character emotional moments throughout. Also, It feels much more satisfying defeating trainers of a self- righteous cult in Team Plasma than just a Bad person. It even acknowledges the old philosophical Pokémon Generation 1 question: “are Pokémon slaves?”
It’s so unfortunate that people just write this game off because of ice cream cones and garbage designed by a westerner but really, imagine if this Pokémon was in real life!