What an awesome thread idea! I've often pondered over my favorite consoles and enjoy reading about what makes certain consoles special to others, but I've never really considered it in terms of generations. As someone who has done the majority of my gaming over the course of my life on handheld systems I might have a slightly different perspective on the issue than many gamers here, and with that in mind here's my Top 3 favorite console generations.
#3. Fourth Generation (Game Boy & Sega Genesis)
Growing up in the early 90's I did most of my childhood gaming on an original gray brick model Game Boy, which would lead to a lifelong fascination with handheld games. As a kid I had what most of my friends considered a pretty enormous Game Boy library, around thirty or so games, and these days I have about twice that many. Some of my fondest childhood gaming memories were on that little green and black screen, and now as an adult I think I spend even more time playing the Game Boy than I did when I was a kid. I did eventually get a Sega Genesis during my youth too, which led to innumerable hours of playing Mortal Kombat and every Sonic game published for the system. I still dig the Genesis a lot and try to go back and play it at least a few times a month, but the original Game Boy and it's humongous library of excellent games is really my bread and butter of this generation.
#2. Fifth Generation (Game Boy Color & PlayStation)
Wouldn't you know it, my second favorite generation is the very next one! This generation had two major highlights for me: The first was finally being able to enjoy all my old favorite Game Boy games in color (in many cases it was just a splash of color, but it still excited me) and without motion blur. The Game Boy Color's screen was just leaps and bounds ahead of the original Game Boy's, with the pixels all clearly visible and never becoming blurry when objects moved on the screen; and the Worm Light that Nyko released for the GBC meant that I could finally play Game Boy without the need to sit under a bright light source or attach some enormously bulky screen magnifying contraption to my handheld. And on top of all that there were tons of great new games for it that were in full, vibrant color!
The second highlight of this generation (for me that is) was the original Sony PlayStation. This console marked what may have been the biggest leap forward in graphics, game variety, and a game's ability to tell a story that the world of console video games has ever seen. Up until the PlayStation came out I had never experienced any games with 3D polygonal graphics, and when I got my first couple games for the system—the original Tomb Raider and Resident Evil games—I was completely blown away. It's been a good two decades since then, and even after all this time the PlayStation has never stopped impressing me. It's huge library of exciting and compelling 3D action/adventure/horror games, awesome light gun shooters, conversions classic PC games in all sorts of genres, and perfect ports of most of my favorite 80's arcade games (and a trackball controller to play Centipede with no less) definitely make the PlayStation one of my all time favorite home gaming consoles.
#1. Sixth Generation (Game Boy Advance SP, Game Boy Micro, & GameCube)
This was a really hard choice for me, because I was darn tempted to call the previous generation my favorite, but if I'm being really honest with myself there's just way too much I love about Nintendo's offerings from this generation to give it second place. For my tastes this was the absolute best generation for handheld gaming, with the powerhouse that was the Game Boy Advance SP finally bringing one of my all time favorite game genres—sci-fi first person shooters—to a handheld. I can't even begin to describe how utterly amazed I was the first time I played Wolfenstein 3D and Doom for the Game Boy Advance, and those were just the tip of the iceberg for the system's game selection. I honestly can't think of any game genre that the GBA doesn't have a plethora of quality game titles in, and I love the system's lightweight and ergonomically comfortable clamshell design just as much as the games that can be played on it. The fact that Nintendo also gave the AGS-101 model of the GBA SP a backlight screen (finally!) and made it backwards compatible with all previous Game Boy and Game Boy Color games was just icing on the cake for an already outstanding handheld. The only complaint I could really make about it is that these days it can be hard to find new current production replacement rechargeable battery packs for it, but at the time of it's release it was really cool not having to stock up on AA batteries anymore.
Next up in this generation is the ill-fated yet ever so beautiful Game Boy Micro, which—in my very subjective opinion—is hands down the most beautiful and elegant handheld game console ever produced. Sure the screen is only a little larger than a postage stamp, and sure it dropped the backwards compatibility of the SP and only plays Game Boy Advance games, but man is it ever one classy looking system! I also love the total portability of the system. It's so small that even when kept inside a padded carrying case it still fits comfortably in any pants pocket, and what the screen lacks in size it makes up for in extreme levels of sharpness and wide array of backlight brightness options. It's too bad that so many of these little units were plagued with dead or stuck pixels on the screen, because it's an absolute joy to behold in all other respects.
Lastly we have the GameCube, which is by no small margin my absolute favorite home console that Nintendo has ever produced; and possibly my favorite home console period. It drew me in with it's Game Boy Player add-on that let me play all my favorite handheld games on the big screen, and it kept me glued to the couch with it's abundance of high quality exclusive titles that featured some of the most jaw droppingly beautiful graphics and engaging gameplay of the generation. The Resident Evil REmake, Metroid Prime, The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker, Star Fox Adventures, Mario Party 4, and dozens and dozens more. On top of that were all the amazing compilations of great games from previous generations such as Sonic Mega Collection, The Legend of Zelda: Collector's Edition, Mega Man: Anniversary Collection, and so on. Back when it came out I felt like the GameCube was really a showcase of nearly everything that I ever loved about Nintendo, and I still feel that way about it today. Add in some really cool aesthetic design choices like the console's cube shape, the ever charming mini disc game format, and what is in my opinion the single most comfortable and ergonomically perfect controller ever made for a home console and it's not hard to see why the GameCube pushed the Sixth Generation up to #1 for me.
The Cube is dead, long live the Cube!
Edited by Jin, Sat Nov 14, 2015 1:59 PM.