Sony PSPWe won't pretend the situation facing the PSP isn't serious. There's a very noticeable lack of titles and seemingly little on the horizon - at least on the part of third-party publishers.

What does that mean for the future? Who cares. You either live in the present or you don't live at all. Or so we're told.

So let's focus on the scenario that you're likely to find yourself with a PSP this Christmas and because you're either new to the club (in which case, welcome) or you've taken your eye off the Sony handheld scene recently (that iPhone/iPod touch is just too damn sexy, right?) you're not too sure what you should be playing in between the Queen's Speech and the inevitable alcohol-fuelled family arguments.

Well, how about any of these five fine fellows? You'll note not all are the latest - a deliberate move - but they are some of the greatest. And if your PSP has been feeling a little neglected in recent months, it's more than likely one or two may have passed you by. So check those out - you'll find there's plenty of life in the PlayStation Portable yet.

The 5 essential PSP games of Christmas 2008

5. Disgaea: Afternoon of Darkness
Developer: Koei
Publisher: Koei

A dangerous choice, this. Not because it's ropey - goodness, no. This is some of the finest strategy RPGing to be found on any format, past or present. And that's the worry, see. Because if you haven't yet experienced the incredibly intricate yet wonderfully welcoming world of Disgaea: Afternoon of Darkness, little can prepare you for the relationship-threatening experience that awaits. So start playing this at Christmas at your own risk… before you know it, it'll be Easter.
4. WipEout Pulse
Developer: Sony Liverpool
Publisher: Sony

Come on, admit it - you didn't bother getting this last Christmas, did you? Well, everyone should get a second chance to remedy the mistakes made in life, so consider this yours. You won't find a better, more assured and effortlessly playable anti-grav racing title on handheld than WipEout Pulse. You'll get drunk on its speed, style and splendid superiority, yet the hangover never comes. Which is more than you can say about the brandy some of you will be consuming this Christmas.
wipeout pulse
3. God of War: Chains of Olympus
Developer: Ready At Dawn
Publisher: Sony

True, not the gentlest or most appropriate of choices given the spirit of the festive season. But Kratos has long discarded such civilised notions - embodiment of human fury that he is, it takes all of his self control just to ensure he doesn't slice the heads off all those he meets. Scrooge, by comparison, is a model citizen. Thankfully, in Chains of Olympus nearly everyone the angry Spartan comes across tends to deserve dismemberment. The resulting adventure is an exceptional example of slash-'em-up action whose absorbing quality and relentless pace will effortlessly go blade to blade with the best of the genre to be found on home consoles.
god of war chains of olympus
2. LocoRoco 2
Developer: Sony
Publisher: Sony

There can't be a betting shop in Britain that would accept people putting money on LocoRoco 2 failing to set the game sales charts alight. But don't let that put you off. Betamax was a far superior format to VHS, after all. Popularity is no indication of quality - especially when it comes to video gaming. If you were one of the many who missed it, then you should know that the first LocoRoco is one of the most fabulous gaming experiences of recent times (and you're equally encouraged to pick it up now) and this sequel is no less accomplished. In fact, you could argue that it's more so - and that statement alone is more than enough reason to get you to run to your nearest game emporium and swipe your plastic in exchange for a copy of Sony's exquisite action-platform-puzzler.
locoroco 2
1. FIFA 09
Developer: Electronic Arts
Publisher: Electronic Arts

Yes, we're a little surprised, too. So let the position of the latest FIFA title in this Top 5 serve as an indication that this year's iteration of EA's long-running footy franchise really is worth thinking about. Sure, previous PSP attempts have hardly been relegation material, but with some refinement and the engaging brilliance of the new Be a Pro mode, FIFA 09 is in a different league. In our opinion, this is easily the finest handheld football game currently available and a must-have for just about every PSP owner. Yes, really.
fifa 09