Yes, both major handheld systems had major games. The PSP had "God of War: Chains of Olympus" and critical favorite "Patapon." The DS had a celebrated new "Castlevania" and even a role-playing-game-of-the-year contender "The World Ends With You."
But neither system seemed to get major attention from its makers this year.
Sony and third party publishers neglected to add many games to the PSP's software library in the second half of 2008. Nintendo calmed its usually aggressive handheld release schedule this year as well, allowing, atypically, third party publisher to shine with content as diverse as "Lock's Quest," "Ninja Gaiden: Dragon Sword," lots of Square-Enix role-playing games and Activision's unstoppable line of "Guitar Hero: On Tour" games.
Even Nintendo's release of an upgraded camera-enabled DS, the DSi felt anticlimactic, as Nintendo itself released no flagship game to accompany the launch.
Maybe handhelds would again feel more important in 2009?