This time of year is good 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. 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.

RATING T for Teen

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PLOT Just read the game's title

DETAILS PlayStation 3, $60; Vita, $40

BOTTOM LINE Not too complicated