Based on how I felt about them at the time.
3rd was pretty much the "first" generation for me. I'd experienced games in arcade and Atari but playing them on the Nes was like finding out that there was a world outside of my own house. The possibilities were endless.
4th was when all of the stuff I experienced in the previous gen were refined to perfection. Not only that, new boundaries seemed to be pushed every month. A great time to be a gamer.
5th was like a rebirth of the 3rd. I'd experienced 3D gaming before but this was when 3D worlds became realized and everything felt new and innovative again.
6th was when the crude steps of the 5th gen finally became fully realized. People looked like people. Games felt like living worlds. Developers finally realized what they needed to do with the right analog stick.
7th felt like a prettier version of the 6th gen....but then the online experience exploded. Suddenly, I was up against the entire world and not just the few gamer friends I had (most of which aren't gamers anymore).
We'll see what the 8th gen has to offer in due time. I'm liking what the Wii U is offering but it's not a quantum leap, yet.
And, to answer the OP, my favorite gen would have to be the 16-Bit era. Everything was so fresh. Music was crisp, 3D was new, games always felt like they were pushing the boundaries and my imagination was captured. I guess I was just at the perfect age during that period. Everything gets better and better every gen (despite what I say, the 7th gen was fantastic for me!) but the 4th gen was like experiencing Star Wars for the first time.
For me I voted "6th gen" cause of the monster known as the PS2 - along with the inclusion of the Gamecube and Xbox, there was also the GBA, NDS and the PSP all out around the same time frame one time or another.
Anyways for me its
6th > 4th > 5th > 7th > 3rd > Everything else before 3rd
Definitely 6th generation. Played the GameCube, Gameboy Advance, and the PS2 which had by far, the best game libraries combined compared to 7th and so far the 8th. As for the 5th generation, I only somewhat experienced the N64.
Currently Playing: SSB: Ultimate Splatoon 2, LoZ: Breath of the Wild, & Fortnite
has to be the sixth :D
I would say 5th gen closely followed by 4th gen.
Reason: 5th gen had two great gaming systems that I owned in PS1 and N64 with very distinct gaming experiences. Local multiplayer heaven on N64 and great single player experiences on PS1 (Allundra, Resi, FF, BoF just to name a few).
One console in the SNES, even though on its own maybe superior, cannot match that, especially the local multiplayer.
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5th of course.
Its the one that brough the most innovation and the bigger variety of gaming experiences.
I went with the sixth gen overall for the simple reason of variety. While the most recent generation had more epic games with the likes of Fallout 3, Red Dead Redemption, Mass Effect the variety died once games started costing as much to make as the entire Lord Of The Rings trilogy to make. Games have got more complex, more nuanced, and objectively better in the seventh generation, but they've also become homogenous and repetitive in ways I can't stand. Almost everything is either a first-person shooter, third-person shooter, 3D brawler, or an open world sandbox game (which will likely share a lot in common with either third-person shooters, 3D brawlers or both). Take a look at the sales for PS3 and Xbox 360. There's nothing really that I can see that's sold more than 2 million copies, that doesn't fit that description at least a little bit. Even our RPGs became very "shooty" (I'm looking at you Mass Effect). By contrast look at the sixth gen.
We had the 3D brawlers with the likes of God Of War, Devil May Cry, Dynasty Warriors, Ninja Gaiden. Every style from killing waves of mooks to deep and difficult challenge. We had plenty of FPSs with the likes of Call Of Duty, Half-Life 2, Halo, Metroid Prime, Doom 3 etc. third person shooters didn't really get big till Gears Of War but the sixth gen had a few good ones like Star Wars: Battlefront 2, Max Payne, Splinter Cell and the Hitman and Tomb Raider series. The open world sandbox genre wasn't as big either but with GTA: Vice City and GTA: San Andreas we had plenty. There was also Spiderman 2, Shenmue, and Mafia.
So that's the popular genres of today covered, but what about the rest? 3D Platformers there was Ratchet & Clank, Psychonauts, Vexx, Sonic Adventure, Super Mario Sunshine, Jak & Daxter and so many more; what did the seventh gen have outside of the Wii which often ruined perfectly good games with waggle physics. Nothing really. Then there's survival horror. The sixth gen did survival horror so well as we saw both Resident Evil and Silent Hill reach their peaks, then there's things like Eternal Darkness and Fatal Frame, modern survival horror outside of indie-games are just action games with more gore now, there's no horror and no worry about survival either for that matter. RPGs are even more polarising. We had such a range in the sixth gen, with Final Fantasy X, KOTOR, Persona, Diablo 2, Golden Sun, Pokémon, Deus Ex, Neverwinter Nights, Skies Of Arcadia, The Elder Scrolls series and more. This was the time to love RPGs. Consoles, handhelds, PC, everything had them. Hell this was back when MMO's where decent, back when it was a challenge and not filled with douches. Everquest, WoW, EVE Online etc. all started early to mid sixth gen. In fact, if you like an RPG from the seventh gen, it's likely a sequel to a sixth gen franchise. There where smaller niches that don't exist now too, like extreme sports games. I loved the Tony Hawk's series and it reached it's peak on PS2, the first Guitar Hero (before it was bled to death) was PS2 also. Hell even the best of PC gaming falls into the 1999-2006 bracket that was the sixth gen. Everything from Starcraft, Civilisation 4, The Sims, Rollercoaster Tycoon, Sim City 4, Total War and more.
I love the forth generation, I grew up on my Mega Drive and early PC gaming. The fifth generation did a lot, with the PSOne having my favourite games of all time with the Final Fantasy franchise, and the Sega Saturn keeping niche arcade gameplay alive, but once the Dreamcast came along we had a successor. The seventh gen has probably most of my "top 20" games, simply because of scope. All in all though, the sixth gen I think is the best we've had yet, and I hope we can go back to that kind of range in the eighth generation now that chasing "better graphics" is resulting in diminished returns.
toss up between 6/5th.
1. Fifth - Nintendo and Rare goodness
That's why you don't appreciate the 4th generation. SNES/Genesis were awesome, they perfected and expanded upon so many NES IP's. Zelda on NES was ok, but ALttP and LA were simply amazing. Plus remember, Pokemon is technically a 4th generation game, since it released on the Gameboy, and not the Gameboy Colour.
If I had to order them, I would say
5th - Best Multiplayer (N64), Amazing Single Player (PS1)
4th - Best Single Player (SNES).......spawn of Mario Kart
6th/7th gen - tie (same reasons as you). I like 7th better, but the 6th was more revolutionary (Metroid Prime, Resident Evil 4, and GBA is probably the best handheld ever)
3rd - Borth of gaming, but most games don't have saves!