Having looked at a small glimpse of the gaming platforms from 1967-present, I have only ever played on a small fraction. In order I had: A Super NES (Nintendo Entertainment System) for a short time, the Amiga (can't remember which version), PlayStation, Gameboy color, PlayStation 2, and a Nintendo DS lite.
As far as platforms go, there's a lot that do the same thing in similar ways. The one that i find most interesting is the Amiga. Simply because it's a keyboard with the addition of a joystick and a mouse. The games came as floppy disks which didn't store much oh them but from the collection i had so very few were enjoyable. Mr. Nutz was probably my favourite because it was a squirrel. But thinking back now, Trollz was the best. Even though i couldn't play the games properly because i was scared I'd lose it was still most interesting platform i had.
The easiest one i found to use was the gameboy color, simply because you had a direction pad and two buttons. Even though the games were lame (i only had two, and borrowed a friends and still haven't given it back), the controls were easy enough.
The one that looks the nicest is the Nintendo DS lite. I chosen this one because its simple compact design. The lite design is so much better and less chunkier than the first version. The DS lite is lighter, has two screens in which the bottom screen you can interact with it with the stylus. You can play the Gameboy Advance games as well as DS ones, as well as certain games like Pokemon, and Harvest moon, they both have GBA and DS games so if you insert both games you can interact with them. EG Harvest moon DS allows you to interact with more villagers when you insert Harvest moon: More friends of Mineral town (GBA).
Looking back at the early consoles and todays consoles, i find that now we don't use joysticks anymore unless its necessary for the game like flight simulation. But game pads are used quite a lot and deemed necessary to play games. Except for the likes of Rockband/2 and Guitar hero/ world tour where the instruments act as the game pad.