The NES pioneered the plus-sign style controller, although the rectangular pad itself would give you blisters if you played for too long. I don't think ergonomics had been invented in the 80's.
Flip up the lid and slide a game into the slot, push down and power up. That's all there was to it! The console even featured direct video and audio out so you can hook it up to your SCART TV! This thing was WAAAAAY ahead of it's time!
Admittedly, the graphics were in 16 colours and the sound was like a bunch of monkeys playing banjos, but this console was the one that really brought computer entertainment into the home. It created megastars of Mario and Luigi, Donkey Kong and, of course, Duck Hunt (you know, the one with the light gun...)
Nintendo manufactured a clone of the NES for the Japanese market and they only stopped making them in 2003. That just goes to show how powerful this little box tricks really was. Or is. I've still got mine :o)