NES and it's not remotely close objectively. The NES and Nintendo's standards and regulations around that period of time (particularly in terms of quality control) defined the industry and really built the industry.
Video games as a hobby and market would undoubtedly be much smaller than they are today if not for Nintendo so carefully and perfectly bringing the subject back into the limelight.
yes- if Nintendo hadn't been around eventually someone else probably would have revived the home console market- but to the level and effect that Nintendo did? I doubt that. The quality and talent involved in bringing the NES and its library to life is incredible considering how the retail market was so afraid of video games in the USA after the Atari crash. I mean it's probably already been mentioned a bunch of times in this thread but just to get the NES in stores Nintendo had to market it more as a toy bundle to retailers by pairing it with a robot accessory.
And the reality is if another company had been the first to innovate and rebirth the game industry they could have easily started with a much messier route of middling quality and customer service. There could have been ANOTHER video game crash, it could have been fad. All it would have taken was another hardware manufacturer popping up that didn't implement serious regulation on what software was allowed on their system (quality control).
In a weird way Nintendo's shrewdness for control and specificity over their first big video game platform is why the video game market ended up flourising. It set a baseline and grounds for how things should be done and made consumers more comfortable and confident in purchasing video games because they trusted that they weren't investing into an Atari 2600 like system with a ton of shovelware.
I think it's difficult to really credit the NES as much as it deserves. Considering how leaps and bounds it was above any other home console before it in terms of accessibillity and performance I think it's particularly impressive the roster of games it had as well. I mean think of plugging in a Nintendo system with Mario Bros and compare that to ANY home console experience before then- it's an incredible difference.
In the end the quality emergence between the NES and the generaion before it is a wider gap than any other generational gap in video game history and by a massive margin.
Before Nintendo video games, at least in the living room, were not taken very seriously or reliably in terms of the product you were going to receive.
We can talk all day long about how relevant and signifcant systems like the Playstation 1, PS2, and Wii were in terms of culture and their effects on the industry at the time and beyond it- but the reality is the foundation for all of these platforms was laid by the NES. I mean things like the NES's controller, save features, the 'seal of quality', multiple genres of games- so much was innovated in that period.
I mentioned a point you made from another thread about Nintendo and their IPs. We forget the types of games that were being made prior to the NES. Can you imagine being someone during that time whether as a kid or as an adult playing a game like Super Mario Bros. or The Legend of Zelda? It was almost night and day compared to the games before. And it doesn't hurt that characters like Mario, Donkey Kong, and Link were, and still are, endearing among the community. Even Samus to a smaller extent, especially as a surprise being known as a woman, the first known female video game protagonist. Then adding characters like Simon Belmont, Mega Man, Chocobo, and others, it worked out for the NES with the help of these characters.
Edit: Consider this, why was Mario among the few characters who helped with the changing of the host from Rio to Tokyo? Why wasn't there anyone from Playstation, Square, Capcom, Sega, etc? Plus, his numerous appearances and/or references in a variety of show and other public events such as Dancing with the Stars? Hell, outside of the NES, Pokemon was given the job of repping the Japanese soccer team during the most recent World Cup. This is what made the NES an important console. Not just saving the US and Japan recover from the crash or providing new gaming experiences, but also introducing characters that we continue to talk about and cherish for so many years. 30 years and counting and these characters are still around and just as relevant.