Pokemon Y: I was a pokémon fan in the 90s, and I’m still a fan today. Admittedly, Platinum sucked some of the games have fallen short, but almost all of them are still worth replaying every once in a while. The reason Y stands out isn’t because it’s the perfect pokémon game (honestly, I don’t think we’ve had that yet), but because it’s gotten more right and less wrong than any other (note: I haven’t played X, but you can assume it’s here too). This is a big one for me, but I’ll try to keep it short.
First of all, the pokémon. This is debated every generation, and it’s very subjective, but I just liked the designs of the new ones. For once the early game catches weren’t just punching bags to get you through the first gym before you found better ones; fletchling and bunnelby are both great pokémon that can help you through to the end of the game. Their evolved forms are even popular in competitive battling. And having good new pokémon here makes it not feel like a desperate nostalgia grab when you find a lot of classic pokémon too. Also the abundance of fairy types on these early routes helps get you familiar with the new kind of pokémon right away, which was one of the things generation 2 did wrong. Having little to no experience with steel types, then suddenly being confronted by a Gym Leader’s steelix threw me off as a kid. But this time, I was ready for Valerie’s team. I also liked that eevee was available in the wild, and not at a ridiculously low encounter rate like in Black 2 and White 2. But having riolu available early on, and then a special lucario later was a mistake. Everyone’s going to pick up that riolu, so when they get the lucario it’s going right into the PC forever. It really breaks the feeling of friendship with your pokémon when you’re bound to neglect one.
The upgraded Exp. Share changes the way you interact with your pokémon. Some people say it breaks the game and prefer to turn it off, but I think it actually opens up a lot of the game. Ever since pokémon Red and Green, you’ve only been able to have six pokémon in your party at a time, and the difficulty was balanced so that six well-trained pokémon was all you needed. But in generation 1 there were only 151 pokémon, and only 69 fully evolved ones. Six were all you needed to get a good taste. Now there are 719 pokémon. Only being able to raise six would be extremely limiting. But, thanks to the Exp. Share, it’s easy to raise a bunch of pokémon, and then keep them in the PC until they’re needed. Be less like Ash Ketchum, and more like Gary Oak. It’s not a perfect system, and I’d actually like to see it gone in Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire, but looking at the game as just one point in a massive franchise, I think it’s good to have this.