All your life you have been told that it is better to give than to receive, but if someone were to put a gun to your head and DEMAND that you receive? Well, then you had better have a firm idea of what you want otherwise you are getting a lump of coal, a moldy tangerine and a copy of E.T. for the Atari 2600. Whatever side of the giving/receiving divide you find yourself on, Kotaku can help. Givers - print out our handy gift guides and carry them with you to the shops (or just open them in another tab while you browse Amazon or whatever - this is 2008 after all). Would-be receivers - leave the guides open on the PCs of family members, stuff printouts into pockets or down the side of the sofa where your
prey loved one can find them or just grab people by the lapels and scream the URL directly into their faces. As before, we have split this guide to the best in PSP and DS gaming into Bargains (cheap, yet cheerful), Essentials (should already be on your to-play list), Socializers (multiplayer magnificence) and Epics (life destroying time sinks).Bargains
Iron Chef America (DS) Price: $19.99 Rating: Everyone A surprise hit at Kotaku Towers. In a sense this is just an IP-licensed knock-off of 'Cooking Mama' yet somehow the sheer bluster and absurdity of the TV show carries through and makes this more fun than it has any right to be.
Metroid Prime: Hunters (DS) Price: $16.75 Rating: Teen Still the best portable FPS around, Metroid Prime Hunters has plenty to offer fans of the 2D series or anyone looking for an engaging 3D shmup with exploratory/puzzle elements. The intuitive controls are the next best thing to Mouse/Keyboard for 3D shooting and the boss battles require thought as well as firepower.
Lumines II (PSP) Price: $22.70 Rating: E10+ Better than the original on every level, Lumines II is a solid, fast-paced puzzler with a great soundtrack and plenty of extra modes to keep you coming back for more. Gameplay is hard to describe, but easy to understand in practice.
Beats (PSP) Price: $5 Rating: E Quirky rhythm action gaming bundled with a 'music creator' toy. The ability to play levels based on tracks stored on your memory stick gives this a lot of extra life and means that - finally! - Melt Banana can have their rhythm game debut.
Puzzle Quest: Challenge Of The Warlords (DS) Price: $19.99 Rating: E Tacking on a 'story mode' to a puzzle game is usually an exercise in pointless dialogue and applied lameness, but in Puzzle Quest the RPG elements really do add depth and turns the already addictive Bejewelled-style gem matching into a form of combat. It sounds daft, but it works. Essentials
God of War: Chains Of Olympus (PSP) Price: $33.99 Rating: M Like Jessica Alba with a dose of the Rage virus GoW:CoO is absurdly violent, but beautifully put together. This is probably the best looking PSP title yet, with detailed backgrounds and character animations that would not look out of place on a 'proper' console. Well balanced fighting and slick production make this one of the PSP standouts of 2008.
Patapon (PSP) Price: 19.99 Rating: E A rhythm-based RTS? Why, yes - and one with a fantastic visual style at that. Patapon is a tough little nut and an acquired taste for some but it more than lives up to its inspired art direction.
Castlevania Order Of Ecclesia (DS) Price: $27.99 Rating:T Yes, it is hard - bastard hard - but you wont find a more polished action platformer in the class of 2008. Intense boss battles and a brand new magic system make this a welcome addition to the series.
Bangai-O Spirits (DS) Price: $19.99 Rating:E +10 Insane J-Shoot-em-up of the OHMYGODDNO! school of frenzied blasting. Initially bewildering to play, with practice you will become death, destroyer of flashy things. This is the kind of thing that goes on in Jeff Minter's head all the time.
Lock's Quest (DS) Price: $27.99 Rating:E The Tower Defense genre seems ideally suited to a touchscreen device, but Lock's Quest takes the idea and runs with it, adding layers of micromanagement and minigames. The result is a well rounded game that expands a casual time waster into something much more. Socializers
Mario Kart DS (DS) Price: $33.99 Rating:E What more is there to say about Mario Kart? Nintendo managed to bottle lightning in creating this one - a masterclass in simple elements combining to be more than the sum of their parts. Still one of the most fun ways for four people to spend time together that doesn't rate an NSFW tag and a premium video stream.
GRID (DS) Price: $19.99 Rating:E If you prefer your DS racing experience to be a little lighter on the Mushroom Mobiles and place greater emphasis on real-world vehicles and tracks, GRID offers a well designed driving experience that never sacrifices fun in favour of realism.
Advance Wars: Days of Ruin (DS) Price: $28.99 Rating:E The Advance Wars formula was simplified in some respects for this version but the core values remain - pitch perfect combat, accessibility and levels of addictiveness that make crack seem merely a bit moreish.
Monster Hunter Portable Freedom 2 (PSP) Price: $44.98 Rating:T Merely 'quite fun' as a single player game, MHPF2 takes a turn for the awesome when you get your friends involved. At the London Games Expo this year, Capcom had a special Monster Hunter chillout area where players could gather for ad-hoc group adventures. And gather they most certainly did.
Buzz! Master Quiz (PSP) Price: $19.99 Rating:E 10+ PSP Multiplayer doesn't have to be about killing things or crashing into other things - Buzz is a quickfire quiz that will appeal to anyone wanting a quick, fun party game. Just give us more questions next time. Epics
Crisis Core: Final Fantasy VII (PSP) Price: $27.99 Rating:T The FF VII gang enter the Flashback Booth for more floppy-haired RPG action. Cue hours of solid gameplay within an engrossing story that stands up to the best the series has to offer. Lucky westerners get to play on 'Hard Mode' for the first time, too.
Sid Meier's Civilization Revolution (DS) Price: $29.99 Rating: E 10+ Always absorbing, Civ gets a streamlined makeover that makes the most of the DS interface and provides instantly accessible play with surprising depth. If you have never succumbed to the Civ magic, this could be the perfect introduction.
Disgaea DS (DS) Price: $27.99 Rating: E Deeper than a Zen master reading Kierkegaard at bottom of the Marianas Trench, Disgaea DS has cunning combat and a compelling story that will drag you into strategy hell. Or Heaven, depending on how you look at it.
Football Manager Handheld 2009 (PSP) Price: $37.89 (£24.99) Rating:3+ (PEGI) (or "Worldwide Soccer Manager Handheld 2009" in the US) The fearsomely addictive stat grinding of the FM series has the power to end relationships and sap the very marrow out of bones. The 2009 incarnation features multiple leagues, better in-match displays and even more finely tuneable player statistics.
The World Ends With You (DS) Price: $39.99 Rating: T Setting TWEWY in the surreal real-life fantasy land of Shibuya, Tokyo was a stroke of genius - but by no means the best thing about this quirky RPG. Innovative combat that makes full use of the dual screens and an intricate device levelling system will draw you in and tickle the gameplay receptors in your brain.