PlayStation icons join in 'Battle Royale'

The holiday season is a good time to catch up with old friends. If you’re an Xbox fan, you’re probably getting reacquainted with galactic warrior Master Chief in his new adventure, Halo 4. If you’re a Nintendophile, you’re probably frolicking with Mario on your new Wii U.

Sony, meanwhile, has expanded its holiday guest list to invite nearly two decades worth of characters to mix it up in PlayStation All-Stars Battle Royale (for the PlayStation 3, $59.99; Vita, $39.99). Fans of the original PlayStation can welcome back old pals like Sir Daniel Fortesque of MediEvil and the title character of Parappa the Rapper. Younger gamers who have only known the PS3 will be happy to see Nathan Drake from Uncharted and Cole MacGrath from Infamous. Turn them loose in an assortment of game-inspired arenas and you’ve got chaos.

It’s not an original idea: Nintendo has been pitting its lovable characters against each other since 1999’s Super Smash Bros. As you’d expect, All-Stars lets up to four players choose their favorite personalities and pound on each other until one is left standing.

The technique is a change from most fighting games. Most of the time, kicking or punching your opponent doesn’t do much damage. Instead, each blow adds to an attack meter; build up enough energy and you can unleash three levels of truly deadly moves. There’s a little more strategy, but most players won’t find it too complicated.

The solo campaign is awfully skimpy, but All-Stars makes for a lively party when you have a few friends over.

Sony’s burlap-clad goofball Sackboy is part of the All-Stars lineup, but he takes center stage in LittleBigPlanet Karting ($59.99).

Yes, it’s a go-kart racer — a genre that has already made room for Mario, Donkey Kong and Sonic the Hedgehog — but Sony freshens it up by giving you the ability to build your own racetracks and share them online. By exploring the game’s built-in courses, you can find hundreds of elements to add to your own, and they all share the homespun “arts-and-crafts” aesthetic of the original LittleBigPlanet.

Unfortunately, LBP Karting also revives the weird, floaty physics of its parent. That worked fine in the two-dimensional fantasy world of LBP, but it’s annoying when you’re behind the wheel. The tracks are filled with the power-ups, obstacles and gravity-defying leaps you’d expect in a kart racer, but the vehicles themselves feel sluggish and unresponsive.