This is a surprisingly tough one. I believe the Wii marked Nintendo at its absolute creative zenith with games such as Super Mario Galaxy 1 and 2 and Skyward Sword, but the console had a number of well documented issues I'm not going to go into here. For me, it's a close battle between the N64 and Gamecube. The N64 was my first Nintendo console and was the one that truly got me hooked on gaming. My teens were practically defined by it and it certainly provided me with a lot of memorable gaming experiences. There were Nintendo's own landmark titles, including Super Mario 64, OoT and Majora's Mask, and Rare's impressive output with games such as Banjo-Kazooie. Then there were hidden gems like Space Station Silicon Valley, and Japanese oddities Mischief Makers and Mystical Ninja Starring Goeman. Not to mention the multiplayer games I played with my siblings such as Bust-a-Move 2 and Mario Kart 64. All in all it was a console that gave me great games and great memories.
I can remember the first time I played an N64 game - Diddy Kong Racing - at a demo kiosk in Toys-r-us in late '97. I knew I was getting an N64 for Christmas that year and eagerly looked at the games on offer. I was amazed at the jump from the Mega Drive to what was being displayed in front of me. When I got my N64 a month or so later, I was amazed all over again by Super Mario 64, and again when I played Ocarina of Time a year later! I believe that generation (and I'm including the N64's competitors) marked the biggest leap in technology console gamers have ever seen, because not only did it mark a massive graphical leap, but a gameplay shift, too, as designers adjusted to polygonal game worlds. It felt new and daring. Of course the N64 had its problems, not least a controller I now find unwieldy and uncomfortable to use - but at the time I didn't care.
While the N64 will always be widely remembered for its landmark games, its successor is, in my view, one of the most criminally underrated consoles. I can't understand why, because, to put it bluntly, the Gamecube was just so frickin' awesome. It was small, robust and good looking, was powerful, had a brilliantly ergonomic controller that moulded perfectly to my hands, and possessed an outstanding, but small games library. Games like Metroid Prime 1 and 2, Wind Waker and Twilight Princess. Games like Paper Mario 2, Baten Kaitos and Tales of Symphonia. Then there's Resident Evil 4... I suppose it's library pretty much sums the console up in general - small, but packing one hell of a punch. However, towards the end of its life (and Twilight Princess aside), I sadly found myself starting to run out of new things to play, and, eagre for new game experiences, I purchased a PS2. The Gamecube's last days were bittersweet for me, but when it was in its prime, it certainly rocked.
When it comes down to it though, I have to go with my gut, and it's screaming N64.
I have to count the handhelds separately, but this one is much easier - the DS, hands down, for its incredible library and genuine innovation.