At home, I had a Colecovision console whose most impressive game was a 3D platformer, Zaxxon. The rest of the Colecovision catalogue was lame. I also had a Vic 20 which didn't have any real games of note (although it was interesting if somewhat frustrating to type in some BASIC games from magazines).
I had access to Apple II+ and IIe machines at school and a neighbor had an Atari 800. Choplifter was probably the most impressive thing on either one. I remember a lot of people being really disappointed by the Atari 800 as it was made by a gaming company yet didn't have anything that was really that fun.
(This was, incidentally, the same time that text adventures were getting a shot in the arm with Zork and the follow-up games, but that was different than the action games teens like me craved)
At that point I kind of dropped away from gaming and got into music in a big way. The NES didn't gain traction until I was in college in the late 80s, and by that point I was more interested in some of the arcade games that were popping up in the basement of the student union.
I don't ever remeber being bored for want of games. My house is where the neighborhood kids went to play video games.
And what I remember about my Atari 800 is that it got so much play we were comstantly having to repair or replace the terrible joysticks because the bubble switches on the circuitboard would wear out too easily.
Zaxxon is better described as a scrolling shooter.