5. The Third generation (1983 - 2003)
Notable consoles: The NES, the Sega Master System.
The good points: In 1985, Nintendo swept into the west with the NES, a high-quality, affordable console with a plethora of eclectic games of a standard previously unimagined. The NES laid the foundation for a new games industry on top of the scorched earth left by the meltdown of the previous one, opening the doors for Sega to bring the Master System over a year later. It also pretty much invented handheld gaming with the Game Boy. Between the two main home systems, we got Mario, Sonic, Contra, Ninja Gaiden, Final Fantasy, Dragon Warrior/Quest, Kirby, Castlevania, Metroid, Zelda, Phantasy Star, Alex Kidd, Fantasy Zone, Out Run, Space Harrier, Wonderboy, R-Type, and a bounty of other great, industry-defining stuff that I don’t have time to mention here.
The bad points: There’s a reason “NES-hard” is now a common descriptor of tough games. Not every developer enjoyed the platform-holders' ability to produce huge, lengthy works so, many fell back on the old arcade staple of cheap game extension. Thus, it was a generation defined as much by frustration as by fun.