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The thing about this business is sometimes you get an email asking if you’d like to speak to John Cale.

The answer is, of course, “Yes, I would like to speak to John Cale, the legendary artist, producer, and composer.” But if you’re me, you’re likely to be unprepared for the existential scurry to follow. Because where exactly are we to begin?

We could start in rural Wales when he picked up the viola and found himself entranced by the possibilities it unlocked. Or when he was pulled by the Bohemian winds across the Atlantic to the furnace of the ‘60s downtown avant-garde. There, he acquainted himself with John Cage, who introduced him to La Monte Young, the Fluxus composer whose contemplation of drones and harmonics became embedded in Cale’s next project, The Velvet Underground.

Yes, we could start there: at the album that changed the trajectory of popular music, when Cale and Lou Reed clashed in a glorious flurry to produce a body of work that was at once visceral and strange, poetic, yet unencumbered, with forever classics like “Sunday Morning,” “Femme Fatal,” and “I’ll Be Your Mirror.”

We could start at its iconic place in pop culture, cemented by its simple cover, a mere banana designed by Andy Warhol, who managed the band during a productive, ultimately messy affair that would rocket each of the Velvets’ members towards pop-culture shaping careers.

Or, we’d be well within our right to start right after. Though his time with The Velvet Underground ended abruptly, Cale never paused or “rested on his laurels,” a phrase he repeated throughout our conversation, invoking it like a grave sin. He continued to shape the sounds of popular music by splitting the difference between rock and the avant-garde, producing Patti Smith’s Horses, The Stooges’s self-titled debut and Nico’s perplexing, enchanting solo outing The Marble Index, among many others.

That’s to say nothing of his solo career which has careened between the novel and delectable, from the quaint Paris 1919 to the forever danceable Wrong Way Up with Brian Eno, to last year’s Mercy, which found the 82-year-old stalwart collaborating with contemporary favorites like Weyes Blood, Laurel Halo, Animal Collective and Tei Shei. Mercy, which was made during a time of deep productivity in the midst of the pandemic, was a welcome gift to Cale’s longtime fans, who hadn’t heard a new album from him since 2012’s Shift Adventures in Nookie Wood. But Mercy was just a taste of what was to come.

During that same period of creation, Cale also made POPtical Illusion, a collection of 13 songs that vibrate with a sense of wandering memory. On album-opener “God Make Me Do It (don’t ask me again),” Cale’s low warbling voice calls out, “There’s someone whispering in my ear tonight,” evoking those many colleagues, comrades and loved ones whose presence has shaped his output throughout the decades. Though a heaviness lurks, there’s also smirking humor here, both in its sonics — which hop between cinematic soundscapes, vast synth oceans, peppy pianos and trap drums.

From the beginning to this ever-productive now, I was struck by his complete and utter matt-of-factness as I paced Cale’s career with him. He is an artist with ambitious aims and ideas, but more so, he struck me as a practitioner. Maybe owing to a working-class, Welsh Protestant background, the simple act of work, of doing the thing and remaining humble and diligent, seems to be the thread that binds his legendary lifetime.

“I am working towards the same ends as when I started when I was 14 in Wales,” Cale tells me at the end of our interview. As someone who’s listened to Cale’s work myself since I was a young boy, I am thankful for his continued diligence.

This is your second album in quite a short period of time, after a long break from releasing before. What was your creative life like before the pandemic? And what was it about that moment that kind of sparked all of this momentum?

Well, it definitely was derived from the pandemic. That sort of shut all the doors. I don’t know why it happened other than that. It became a period of intense work. I was very intensely involved in writing and I was really happy with it. I got a lot done. It’s still going on, so I’m not shy about getting on with it. You know, when those things happen, you just scramble as fast as you can to take care of what you need to do. And you try not to lose sight of what your goals are with the music.

Certainly. I just wanted to go back for a moment. You came from Wales and quite quickly found yourself in the center of the New York avant-garde. It’s quite the leap. What do you think prepared you dispositionally to go headfirst into the New York avant-garde coming from a more provincial background?

Well, it didn’t take very long. From the time that I got the viola from the school orchestra, I moved along into different kinds of composition. It was a rough and tumble kind of period of moving from different styles of music. Once I’d gotten into grammar school and then on to Goldsmiths College, it was all very exciting.

I know that working with La Monte Young was a very influential period in your early career. I’m curious what about him and that music specifically resonated so deeply with you?

It began in London, where I got to know Cornelius Cardew there. I was aware of what [German composer Karlheinz] Stockhausen was doing, and it was very entertaining to hear what La Monte was doing in regards to Stockhausen because he was at odds with him. It was a period where there was a changing attitude towards tonality in Europe. He was really driving a different kind of perspective than Stockhausen. Stockhausen was hellbent on saying, “You’ve got to invest in new music.” In Europe, it was: you just make sure that you have a 12-tone scale, and if you don’t have a 12-tone scale, you can have a 12-tone instrumentation. It was a quick shift that was going on in Europe. La Monte was from the West Coast jazz groups, it was Terry Riley, Terry Jennings, etc. So when I got to New York, La Monte had already established himself. And John Cage was very generous with his recognition [in connecting us both].

I know La Monte’s music was infused with a sense of mysticism and spiritual ideals. Did you take to any of those ideas having come from a Presbyterian Welsh background?

That makes me laugh a bit. Anything Presbyterian and related to radical music was a strange world to inhabit in the ‘60s. But once you got into New York, that was what was there. The thing about the scene in New York was that with whatever La Monte was doing, he was also joined by other artists, painters, sculptors. I was really fascinated by the intellectual side of La Monte’s theories, because they covered a lot of ground. They weren’t really so much about music, but they were. He’d write pieces that were instructions for performers. He would have one instruction be “draw a straight line and follow it.” If you know his stuff, then you know there were two or three really important pieces like that.

I’m curious then about the transition towards music with lyrics and rock music, especially if you’re in this rarefied avant-garde space beyond words. How were you approaching that?

Well, the lyrics were there. I was really into improvisation. And a lot of the times that Lou and I sat down and threw some ideas around, it was really something that was not confined to just lyrics. It was part of the creative process with lyrics and music. So you start with music, or you start with lyrics, but what was important was that you got on with new things that came along. Lou was remarkable like that because he could, at the drop of the hat, just turn around and write lyrics about what happened that morning at breakfast. That spontaneity was very important.

So you didn’t see as much a distinction between the world of rock music and the world of ideas expressed in this downtown avant-garde composition scene?

I think it was all joined at the hip. You really got a lot out of the society that was in New York at the time: the musicians and the sculptors. It was a very exciting time.

The new album is called POPtical illusion, which evokes pop art and Warhol’s notion of mass culture. As someone heavily involved with Warhol’s factory, what did you take from his ideas?

I think what was memorable about it was the gentility of it all. It wasn’t all furious creativity. It was very gentle and very progressive. Whatever was going on in Germany was very different from what was going on in New York. I learned a lot from that, from the way that the styles changed between what was happening in New York or what was happening in LA and so on. We tried to blend as much of these ideas as possible.

Your career, more than anyone else’s, has tied the ideas of the avant-garde with commercial rock music. Many people would see those worlds as distinct and often at odds, but I don’t get the sense that you ever did.

No, you’re right. I didn’t see any of that as being contrary to everything else that was going on. If you wanted to get work done, [the factory] was a furnace to really live in for a while. And, there was no limit as to what you would start or end with. It was such a hard-working milieu that everybody was getting on with it. Andy and his gang, the Factory, were very productive. But it was not a ferocious existence. It was kind of fun and gentle.

I’m struck by the diversity of types of collaboration you’ve had, be they different musical artists or with different mediums. Do you have criteria for what you look for in collaborators? Is there some kind of universal quality that attracts you to creative partners?

I think my rulebook is about how much I can get done. I never sit still. I get on with it as much as I possibly can. All the people that I’ve been very fortunate to hang out with are very interesting musicians and sculptors and so on. It wasn’t meant to end. It still isn’t.

MERCY, your last record, featured such an exciting array of musicians that are so important today. Tell me a little bit about how you picked those collaborators?

I tried to combine as many different things as possible. The collaborations were sometimes a little fantastic, sometimes stylish and emotional. I just went with whatever was available, and I really enjoyed it.

Your last record was defined by that community of collaborators and this record was made by your creative partner, Nita Scott. How did you decide to embark on this one?

It was just looking at what the circumstances at the time were about and working it, pushing the edges again. I had a good time doing it. I wrote a lot of songs in that period and I was very happy about how it all proceeded. It was a hard road to charge down. I didn’t want to stop with one idea. I was really happy with how careful I was about not doing the same thing twice. That’s always important to me. Every day I would be in a studio doing a new song. Every time I got to the end of an idea, I would just go back to the drawing board and start again, and then have as many new ideas as I possibly could.

I know that hip-hop inspired you and factored into the production of this record. Do you remember when you first encountered hip-hop and what about it inspired you?

Yes it was, J Dilla. And later Earl Sweatshirt and Vince Staples. Finding out about these people and trying to understand what their appreciation of what they were doing was was very productive. I enjoyed listening to all those new rambunctious artists.

The musical process changed so much over the years with the advent of computers and software. When did you start working with computers and has that shaped your music?

Well, it started a long time ago. When you create, you run into the usual limitations. You’ve got a lot of ideas that you want to try, but you can’t really follow through on it every time. It’s not something that you call somebody up and say, “Hey, how’d you do this?” One way or another, I found a way to get through the density. The density is really half the battle.

One of the things about the avant-garde is that you really don’t want to use other people’s ideas. The period with La Monte, for instance, was two, three years and there was no such thing as “remedial” in that period. It was every day with Tony Conrad, with Marian [Zazeela] and La Monte. That was a lot of energy that went into that. It got to be really exciting.

Everything you’re saying seems imbued with this kind of unstoppable work ethic and an insistence that you won’t rest on your laurels.

I’m not trying to tell everybody that they should be doing the same. But I just found it to be really elevating.

It seems like you have a sort of enduring faith that music will maintain. Is that right?

Absolutely. There was nothing that really came my way that made me want to stop, or suggested that I should find another job. There were a lot of really creative people in the world, and I was impressed by it.

The circumstances in which I’m creating this stuff are something that keeps me going. I’m working towards the same end as when I started when I was 14 in Wales. It’s my instinct that makes me push in that direction. It could be much more complicated, I know, but I don’t really want to do that. I want to create as much variety as I can.

Photography: Madeline McManus

Uncharted movie asset (Sony)
Uncharted gets the movie sequel it deserves (Sony)

There definitely will be another Uncharted film says Sony Pictures, as Nintendo announces the Japanese date for its Mario sequel.

The trend of video games being made into movies continues, as work on a second Uncharted film has been confirmed by Sony Pictures. At the same time, Nintendo has reconfirmed that The Super Mario Bros. Movie 2 will be out on April 3, 2026 in the US and announced that it’ll be out in Japan on April 24.

It’s not certain if Tom Holland or Mark Wahlberg are continuing their roles as Nathan Drake and Victor Sullivan, but considering the movie’s success, as one of the highest-grossing video games adaptations ever, that seems likely.

Sony hasn’t announced anything else about the sequel but the original 2022 film ended with several teases that the next one would be a direct adaptation of the first game, Drake’s Fortune.

The end of the first film also hinted that Nate’s brother Sam and/or Drake’s Fortune bad guy Gabriel Roman would be making an appearance. Although in the games it wasn’t until Uncharted 4 that Sam was first introduced.

Apart from lifting an action scene from Uncharted 3, the first movie had very few specific connections to the games, so it’s going to be a bit odd if the second one is a much more direct adaptation.

Uncharted developer Naughty Dog has made it clear that it’s not going to make any more entries in the series, but that doesn’t mean Sony can’t get someone else to do them.

A LinkedIn post in April 2022 mentioned that the studio was building new teams for ‘the legacy of Uncharted,’ basically confirming that new projects were underway – even if they’ve never been officially announced.

The Uncharted movie adaptation had a budget of $120 million (£94 million) and made $407 million (£320 million) worldwide.

Going by the usual logic that a movie has to make back at least twice its budget (to cover marketing and the fact that a movie studio doesn’t get all the profit to itself) it was a pretty major hit for Sony.

However, that’s still far behind The Super Mario Bros. Movie, which had a budget of $100 million (£78 million) but earned a whopping $1.36 billion (£1.07 billion) worldwide – becoming the most profitable movie of 2023.

The trend of video games being made into movies is not surprise then, with other recent examples being Gran Turismo, Mortal Kombat, Detective Pikachu, and Sonic The Hedgehog.

That’s not to mention The Last Of Us and Fallout being made into popular TV shows, further solidifying the video games trend in both live action and animation.

Uncharted 4 asset (Sony)
Uncharted 5 could still be happening (Sony)

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Nintendo 64's Perfect Dark comes to Switch Online (YouTube)
The original Perfect Dark looks a bit different to the Xbox Series X/S reboot (YouTube)

Turok and Perfect Dark have been added to the Nintendo Switch Online virtual console, along with two classic Metroid and Zelda games.

During its Nintendo Direct showcase today, the veteran publisher revealed that it’s expanding its Nintendo Switch Online games library with a special new Nintendo 64 collection of ‘mature’ games.

Turok: Dinosaur Hunter and Perfect Dark are the two titles to spearhead the collection and will be available from today, although you’ll need the more expensive Expansion Pack subscription option to access them and the other N64 titles.

If you only have the standard Nintendo Switch Online service though you still get two notable new Game Boy Advance titles today, with remakes of both a classic Zelda and the original Metroid.

2004’s Metroid: Zero Mission is an excellent remake of the first NES Metroid game, to the point where there’s little need to play the original anymore.

Meanwhile, 2002’s The Legend Of Zelda: A Link To The Past And Four Swords is a remaster of the classic SNES entry in the series, plus a separate multiplayer mode inspired by it – which was later expanded into a standalone GameCube game.

The multiplayer modes for both Perfect Dark and Four Swords both support up to four players online, so nothing is being left out in terms of options.

Nintendo’s showcase didn’t disappoint, as it also revealed that a new Zelda game – finally starring Zelda herself – is set to be released later this year.

It also announced Metroid Prime 4: Beyond, which will come out at some point in 2025. The game looked so good, that fans think it may actually be a secret Switch 2 game.

While Zelda and Metroid were a surprise, as well as new Mario & Luigi and Mario Party games, it’s not unusual for Nintendo do add new games to its Switch Online games library, which consists of over 100 retro titles.

Earlier this month they added five new (or rather old) Mega Man Game Boy titles, and before that Super Mario Land, Baseball, and Alleyway.

Turok: Dinosaur Hunter comes to Switch Online (YouTube)
Turok: Dinosaur Hunter – one of the earliest console FPS (YouTube)

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Mario & Luigi: Brothership key art
Mario & Luigi: Brothership – that was unexpected (Nintendo)

The Nintendo Switch is going out with a bigger bang than expected, with multiple new first party titles announced for this year and beyond.

If this month’s Nintendo Direct had been 20 minutes long and only featured a few indie games and Wii U remasters nobody would’ve blamed Nintendo. Their new console is out in 2025 and for the longest while they had nothing scheduled for release in the second half of the year… but now they do.

Many were hoping for a reveal of Metroid Prime 4 and they got it, but it ended up being the only first party Nintendo game not due out this year, with a new Zelda title (that actually stars Zelda), a new Mario Party, and a new Mario & Luigi.

Unusually for Nintendo, a number of the games had been leaked ahead of time, but the Direct started off with something nobody was expecting: a new entry in the Super Mario RPG adjacent Mario & Luigi series.

Mario & Luigi: Brothership will be out on November 7 but two of the main reasons it’s a surprise is that original developer AlphaDream went bankrupt in 2019 and that was partly because the series had been selling less and less over time.

It was always very good though and while it’s not clear who’s making Brothership the trailer looks a lot of fun, with some distinctive cel-shaded visuals and the games’ usual turn-based combat with real-time gimmicks.

We just hope the game maintains its sense of humour from the previous titles, which was always one of the main appeals in entries like Bowser’s Inside Story.

In terms of other games, the previously announced Nintendo World Championships: NES Edition was confirmed for July 18, with a console version of Fantasian Neo Dimension, from the creator of Final Fantasy, coming sometime this winter.

Nintendo Switch Sports will be getting a new basketball mini-game this summer, as a free update, while Disney Illusion Island is getting a free update this very day.

There wasn’t an awful lot of indie games on show, but we liked the pencil art style of MIO (Memories in Orbit), which was one of a few titles not due out until 2025 – further proof that Nintendo and others intend to support the Switch well into next year.

We imagine Looney Tunes: Wacky Worlds Of Sports is probably multiformat but a fair amount of effort seems to have gone into it, with ‘four arcade style sports’ on offer.

There was also confirmation of a major new update for Among Us, with several new imposter roles. Although it was ironic that it was only a short announcement, as a leak concerning the update is what finally revealed the date of the Nintendo Direct, before it was officially announced.

Despite rumours of Zelda and Metroid remasters, and expectation that there could well be more beyond just that (the continued absence of Xenoblade Chronicles X is baffling), Donkey Kong Country Returns HD proved to be the only one, with a new version of the 2010 Wii game – which also incorporates the new levels created for the subsequent 3DS edition.

The remaster won’t be out until January 16, so it’s not just Metroid Prime 4 that Nintendo is holding back until next year.

Most of the games were due out this year though, with Nintendo lingering a lot on Dragon Quest 3 HD-2D Remake, which will be a very big deal in Japan when it’s released on November 14. They also announced that there’d be similar remakes for the first and second games, which makes slightly more sense when you realise that the third game is a prequel that takes place before the others.

Meanwhile, multiformat game Funko Fusion, by many of the makers of the Lego games, will be out on September 13 and actually looks quite good – if only because Shaun of the Dead would never be in a Lego game.

Since it’s out next week, Luigi’s Mansion 2 HD only got a brief mention but there was also a continuation of weirdo 3DS franchise The New Denpa Men, as well as smartphone remaster Metal Slug Attack Reloaded – which is a Tower Defense game and not to be confused with the upcoming Metal Slug Tactics.

Roguelike sequel Darkest Dungeon 2 got a July 15 release date for its console versions and then it was announced that a number of notable new games are coming to the Nintendo Switch Online virtual console, including Game Boy Advance games Zelda: A Link To The Past And Four Swords and Metroid: Zero Mission. That’s in addition to a ‘mature collection’ for N64 games, including Turok: Dinosaur Hunter and Perfect Dark.

Nippon Ichi’s Phantom Brave is getting a new sequel subtitled The Lost Hero, that looked quite promising, with the ability to possess object with pet phantoms, in order to give them special abilities – it’s out sometime next year.

Marvel Vs. Capcom Fighting Collection: Arcade Classics was an interesting revelation too, as it wasn’t thought that Capcom had the Marvel rights anymore, but it’s out this year and will reignite rumours of a possible new game in the future.

Next up was Super Mario Party Jamboree, which had been leaked before, at least in theory, and will be out on October 17. We’ve long been Mario Party apologists and this one looks particularly promising, with five new game boards, plus two retro ones, as well as 110 mini-games and a host of new game modes, including a 20-player online option. It looked very substantial and the games are always big sellers, especially around Christmas.

After that it was Zelda: Echoes Of Wisdom, and a brief plug for Lego Horizon Adventures, which is not coming to Xbox, and the Switch version of Stray – although the latter two didn’t have release dates any more specific than ‘winter’.

Metroid Prime 4: Beyond was the mic drop at the end of the Direct but before that you still had Tales Of The Shire: A Lord of the Rings Game, which looked like a Tolkien-esque Animal Crossing, and Ace Attorney Investigations Collection, which we’re really looking forward to as one of the game has never had an official English translation before.

Then there was The Hundred Line: Last Defense Academy from the makers of Danganronpa, which looked interestingly weird, and is out in ‘early’ 2025, and a remake of Romancing SaGa 2 that will be out on October 24.

It was a highly impressive Nintendo Direct and while it wasn’t quite enough to challenge the Xbox Games Showcase as the ‘winner’ of this not-E3 season it was far more interesting than anyone could’ve expected and means the rest of the year is going to be a lot busier for Nintendo than previously expected.

Ace Attorney Investigations Collection key art
We had no objections to his Nintendo Direct (Capcom)

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Metroid Prime 4: Beyond trailer image
Metroid Prime 4: Beyond- what console are these graphics running on? (Nintendo)

Nintendo has finally shown off Metroid Prime 4 and while it has an unexpected cameo it won’t be out until next year, which is highly suspicious.

Metroid Prime 4 was first announced exactly seven years ago, but two years later Nintendo had to admit that it wasn’t going well and that everything had been scrapped and development handed over to Retro Studios, who worked on the original (although by that time many of their veteran staff had moved on).

At no point was anything shown of the game and while there’s been much speculation amongst fans, as to whether it is being held over for the new Switch 2 console, Nintendo has given no indication that’s the case.

They still haven’t, but rather than being this Christmas’ big new game the reveal trailer during the June Nintendo Direct shows that it’s not going to be out until next year – which makes it very likely it’ll be a cross-gen release.

Given how good the graphics look there are already conspiracy theories suggesting the footage is running on a Switch 2. However, given there’s still little clue as to how much more powerful the new console will be that’s hard to say – but we wouldn’t have said there was anything in the trailer the Switch 1 couldn’t do.

Nintendo said ahead of time that they wouldn’t be talking about their new console during the Nintendo Direct, and they didn’t, but Metroid Prime 4 was the last reveal of the showcase and the only first party title not coming out until 2025.

In terms of the trailer itself, it showed series heroine Samus Aran battling generic space pirates before it’s revealed that they’re being led by the bounty hunter Sylux from Metroid Prime 3, who appears to have two Metroids under his control.

Sylux is a fairly deep cut, and many probably won’t recognise him, so it’s not clear if he’s the game’s main antagonist or just a little Easter eggs for fans.

If he is a prominent part of the game then it’s peculiar that the long-rumoured remaster of Metroid Prime 3 (and 2) still hasn’t been announced, especially given how popular the remaster of the first game was.

In fact, there was only one Nintendo remaster during the Direct, in Wii game Donkey Kong Country Returns. That’s despite ports of Zelda: Twilight Princess and The Wind Waker seeming almost like shoe-ins.

It’s never a good idea to try and predict Nintendo though and whatever fan theories emerge from this trailer they’ll probably be disproven the next time Nintendo talks about the game… whenever that might be.

Metroid Prime 4: Beyond trailer image
Metroid Prime 4: Beyond- Sylux was a bit of a surprise (Nintendo)

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The Legend of Zelda: Echoes of Wisdom game still
The Legend Of Zelda: Echoes Of Wisdom – this looks pretty awesome (Nintendo)

A new Zelda game is out this year and for once it stars the person it’s named after with a brand new adventure and all-new gameplay.

For anyone that’s never played the games, they probably assume that Zelda is the name of the guy in the funny green hat (or blue tunic) that you usually play as, but of course that’s not the case. Link is the protagonist and Princess Zelda usually has a very passive role as damsel in distress or, at best, extra help during the final battle.

But after decades of fan demand she’s finally getting a proper game all to herself (there were two improper ones, that weren’t made by Nintendo, for the CD-i system in the mid-90s but nobody likes to talk about them).

The new game is called The Legend Of Zelda: Echoes Of Wisdom and while it’s a top-down adventure that uses the same graphics as the remake of Link’s Awakening it’s a brand new game with Zelda having very distinct new abilities.

It’s not clear whether the game is canon, but the story seems to start with Link confronting Ganon but being sucked into a mysterious rift, while just having time to release Zelda from imprisonment before he disappears.

Zelda doesn’t use a sword (if she uses any weapon, it’s usually a bow) but wields a new device called the Tri Rod, which can be used to create ‘echoes’ of ordinary objects, like tables, boxes, beds, trampolines, and blocks of waters.

She can then place multiple copies of these echoes anywhere she wants in the world, at any time, which seems to make for some very interesting puzzles, with the most basic form being to create platforms and stairs to clamber over scenery.

Zelda can use echoes to attack enemies, by throwing rocks and the like at them, but she can also create echoes of the monsters themselves, turning them into allies and using their special abilities, such as flying, shooting, and spreading flames.

It all looks and sounds great and it’ll be out on September 26, along with a special Echoes Of Wisdom Switch Lite (Zelda is the bearer of the Triforce of Wisdom, if you’re wondering about the name).

Although there had been rumours of a new Zelda game, starring its titular character, the reveal was a very welcome surprise during the June Nintendo Direct, which was full of new announcements, including a new Mario & Luigi, Mario Party, and the first reveal for Metroid Prime 4: Beyond.

Except for Metroid Prime 4, all of the games will be out this year, which means the Switch will be going out in considerable style, with support continuing well into 2025.

The Legend of Zelda: Echoes of Wisdom game still showing the character of Zelda
The Legend Of Zelda: Echoes Of Wisdom – Zelda takes the leading role (Nintendo)

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As soon as Egyptian-Sardinian musician Mahmood and Mexican-American designer Willy Chavarria enter the Zoom chat, the energy becomes magnetic. “Mahmood! How are you?” Chavarria bellows with enthusiasm. Mahmood, born Alessandro Mahmoud, the Eurovision star and four-time platinum artist for his single “Tuta Gold,” is running a bit behind. For a man who spends endless days grinding on choreography or fine-tuning his sound, it’s understandable. “I’m so sorry, I was running late from a rehearsal,” he acknowledges, though it’s clear there’s nothing but love and respect here.

Despite being two of the hottest talents in fashion and music, they remain grounded, laughing with childlike ease and affection. Perhaps it’s their shared love of making art, which could soften even the most rigid hearts, or their dedication to craft that introduces them like kindred souls destined to have crossed paths.

“It was really random,” Mahmood laughs, recalling their chance encounter on an impromptu shoot with photographers Luigi Murenu and Iango Henzi. “That day, I had to come back to Milan, but there was a fire at the airport, and all the flights were canceled. Luigi lived in New York at the time. He told me, ‘Don’t worry, babe, come here. We’ll do a shoot. We’ll have a party. We will have the hairdresser come.’ So I went there with my bags, and we started shooting. I had your outfit just because I was at your show the day before, but then you also ended up being there for the shoot. You know, I think random stuff like that is the best. I have beautiful memories of that day now,” he smiles.

Nearly a year later, at an old warehouse in Greenpoint, hordes of fashionable elite gathered to see Chavarria’s Fall 2024 collection. Julia Fox was poised between stylist Briana Andalore and model/photographer Richie Shazam — a few seats down sat nightlife queen Amanda Lepore and stage queen Sam Smith, all tinted blood-red from the lights that flooded the walls. Before the models had a chance to command the runway, Chavarria presented “Safe From Harm,” a short film centered on the politics of identity, overlaid with Chavarria’s traditional affinity for family.

While the casting featured key figures from Chavarria’s life, like Chachi Martinez and Elias Zepeda, both friends and collaborators of the brand, it was Mahmood who captured everyone’s attention in all of his sweaty glory.

In a room high above the ground of a convent, Mahmood bench-presses in a pair of custom “Willy” briefs, surrounded by a collection of studs in all their shapes and hues. He pauses for a moment, finishing a rep to adjust his underwear before leaning in to kiss dancer Leonardo Brito while “Love Changes” by MK slowly builds in the background. “I remember when you told me, ‘And now you have to kiss him on the sofa and then watch the window.’ I was thinking, ‘I’ve never kissed someone in front of a camera,’” Mahmood recalls with a smile.

“Well, that film, you know, is very sensitive and very passionate,” Chavarria explains. “I wanted somebody that had something of a queer identity, but was still able to deliver a level of masculinity in this particular film. And I wanted somebody who could tell a full story with their eyes. Alessandro’s eyes are like books, sad books.”

The two seem busier than ever, Chavarria finalizing details on his next venture and Mahmood taking only a short break before heading into his Italian arena tour, enjoying the release of his latest music video, “RA TA TA,” in the meantime. “You know, I’m really happy,” he elates. “I’m happy because I’m doing new stuff for the first time. I’m performing in New York, so I don’t think about the effort when there is exciting stuff to do like that. These tours are giving good vibes.”

As they segment time away to catch a quick breath, the two reminisce on their entwined lives, interrogate the idea of intimacy and pose the critical question: spit or lube? Perhaps this discussion will even foreshadow events to come as Chavarria and Mahmood trade secrets about the inner workings of their minds. Read their full conversation, below.

PAPER: Let’s start with identity. That’s a really pointed topic in both of your works.

Mahmood: It’s like, what is it? I’m looking for it.

Willy Chavarria: You’re looking for it? Me too!

Mahmood: My identity is in a state of evolution. I feel different from two years ago. Your experience could modify your identity. Also, traveling a lot and meeting new people sometimes helps me find my real identity.

Willy: I agree. Nobody ever truly knows their total identity because the journey of life is seeking identity, you know? And if you think you know your identity, it’s going to change. The only way to honestly know is to admit to yourself that you are constantly seeking to find your truest self. Even with God. It’s a constant search. “What is God? What does that mean?” It’s one and the same. It’s a beautiful thing that we’re always looking for.

Mahmood: Also, when we’re young, our parents try to make us like them. Then, in adolescence, we try to escape from this state. Now, at 31, I want to learn more, because I see the change that I made in those past two years. You will never find 100% of your identity. There is always something that is changing inside you.

Willy: I like that you mentioned when we’re children and our parents because as we learn how to express our identities — when we kind of get to know ourselves better — it’s important for us to share on our platforms. It’s okay to be in touch with certain identities. The most obvious example is queer identity, you know? One reason I was very attracted to you in the first place, to become friends, was the way that you interpret your own queer identity in your work. It’s not so much the focus of the work, but it just happens to be there.

When did you two formally meet? It sounds like there’s a lot of synergy.

Mahmood: Oh, my god. The first time was after your show.

Willy: I thought we met on Instagram.

Mahmood: Ah, yes. But I was thinking in person. It was for the Luigi and Iango shoot. You remember?

Willy: Oh, yeah!

Mahmood: I had the mustache with the red shirt and the hat. I love that shoot. And it was really random because, you know what happened? That day, I had to come back to Milan, but there was a fire at the airport, and all the flights were canceled. Luigi lived in New York at the time. He told me, “Don’t worry, babe, come here. We’ll do a shoot. We’ll have a party. We will have the hairdresser come.” So I went there with my bags, and we started shooting. I had your outfit just because I was at your show the day before, but then you also ended up being there at the shoot. You know, I think random stuff like that is the best. I have beautiful memories of that day now.

Willy: That photo is one of my favorite photos, with the match in the mouth…

Mahmood: Ah, yeah. With the match, yeah, yeah, yeah. There were some Grace Jones vibes.

Willy: So fierce.

How did this connection lead to you starring in “Safe From Harm,” and how did that film come together?

Willy: Well, that film, you know, is very sensitive and very passionate. I wanted somebody that had something of a queer identity, but was still able to deliver a level of masculinity in this particular film. And I wanted somebody who could tell a full story with their eyes. Alessandro’s eyes are like books, sad books.

Mahmood: Super sad books.

Willy: His eyes can give so much emotion and can be so powerful. I wanted that in the film. I also just wanted to work with him because I could tell there was something special. Then we were doing the film: it was so cold. It was New York, and it was snowing and disgusting…

Mahmood: But that day was sunny. Maybe the first day was snowing. But the second day I arrived, the sun was bright.

Willy: But it was cold as fuck.

Mahmood: When I went out to drink coffee, I was freezing. But I was so happy because it was the first job I ever did in America. So, for me, it was insane. It was a beautiful experience. Also, I never saw anything like that space, everything in just one place. You know, with the church, the rooms, with the kitchen — what was the building?

Willy: That was a convent. I can’t believe we found that building. It’s so incredible. That’s why it has a chapel there; the nuns would go to the chapel. You know, we brought in all the props that were there.

Mahmood: So it was totally empty?

Willy: Totally empty. The prop styling was amazing for that shoot. But Alessandro, you were so good. You are so professional and so serious about your work.

Mahmood: Because, in that case, it’s not just work. It’s just doing what you love, no? I feel happy when I’m inside that kind of environment. I’m inspired to do more and more. So, to be in that situation, I was super excited.

I remember when you told me, “And now you have to kiss him on the sofa and then watch the window.” I was thinking, “I’ve never kissed someone in front of a camera, but what the hell, let’s do it!” It was also an opportunity to learn more, something different. Italy has a different vibe from America. There is more freedom in the creativity here. There was a lot of freedom during the movie, and for part of the day, I really felt free. Totally free. It was weird, but at the same time, really peaceful.

Willy: There was a time that day when I got so excited, I felt almost crazy — like my spirit was gonna leave my body, and I had to go up to a room and tell all the PAs, “Don’t tell anyone where I am. Just say that I’m taking a break.” I sat down in this chair, and I was breathing like… I can’t even explain my energy, it was so intense. Then I looked up at the window, and there was a cross from the church. And I was like, “Oh my…”

Mahmood: Why did nobody think to film? This had to be part of the movie, babe!

Willy: I know, I know. It was insane!

Mahmood: The last scene, when we were seated in the church, for the first time, I was looking at every character of the movie, and everything looked perfect. Super random, but at the same time, perfect. I loved it at the end, you changed my outfit at the last moment. You saw another guy, and you said, “Give me your jacket.” I said, “Oh, my god, he knows it. He gets it.” I will remember this day, I think, forever.

Willy: It was so good. I want to do another one.

Mahmood: You need to put yourself in, too, babe, because you are super cinematographic.

Willy: I don’t know if I can act. All I can do is cry.

Mahmood: But it depends on how you cry, babe. If you cry in a cinematographic way, it’s art.

Willy: Maybe a horror film. I’ve always wanted to be in a horror film.

Mahmood: In a horror film?

Willy: Yeah, like someone is chasing me.

Mahmood: The problem is that I don’t like my scream. My scream is really bad. But maybe you? Yes, I think yes. Do you want to be the assassin or the victim?

Willy: I want to be chased… for a very long time. I’m running, and I’m terrified. I’m hiding, then I’m stabbed to death.

Mahmood: That’s not for me, no. I was a fan when I used to go to school. I don’t know if you have watched Scary Movie.

Willy: Oh, yeah.

Mahmood: I was obsessed. I wanted to be part of Scary Movie. I love it when they do the impression of The Ring, the girl from the well. Yes, I wanted to be her, with the long hair.

Willy: What’s your favorite movie?

Mahmood: My favorite movie? I’m a huge fan of Quentin Tarantino. But, favorite movie? There is an Italian movie that I particularly love called La Pazza Gioia. It’s really sad, but at the same time, it gives you hope. I don’t know, it’s weird to explain, but I love the movie. And yours?

Willy: There is only one for me — The Exorcist. I love it. It’s so beautiful. The costumes, the color…

Mahmood: But just the first one, no?

Willy: Only the first one, yeah. When I was a little boy, I had a crush on that little girl in the movie, Linda Blair. I was obsessed with her. I was jealous of her.

Mahmood: You wanted to be her, or you wanted to be with her?

Willy: I wanted to be her. I was jealous she got possessed. She was also rich.

Mahmood: That’s really intense. So when you were a kid, you used to personify the character at home? Maybe I’m just going too deep…

Willy: No, no. It’s true! I used to personify her.

Mahmood: I knew it. I knew it!

Willy: I used to lay in bed and hope that I could levitate.

At one point, isn’t she strapped to the bed and flailing? All I can picture is you as a kid, strapping yourself to the bed, wriggling, trying to be possessed. Your parents were probably like, “What the f—”

Willy: I would! I used to think my bed was shaking, and I would lay there like, “Okay, concentrate.” I’d try to lift my body up so that I could levitate. Never happened.

Actually, that movie has been hugely influential on me. It’s beautiful because it is the story of good versus evil. It’s also a story about how the devil, or evil in general, wants us to see ourselves as ugly when we’re really not. I think I took that message with me forever. Anytime I see myself as bad, I remember that’s evil, you know. Especially when I was young. Anytime I would see myself as not worthy, or being of the devil, I would remind myself of that film. So, it had a positive impact.

I want to circle back a bit — when you were discussing Safe From Harm, there were touchpoints around the idea of intimacy, whether it’s the intimacy you have with a friend, a partner, or with family.

Willy: Ah, intimacy. I feel like all my work is intimate because, of course, it’s very personal and close to the heart. I like to connect with people in an intimate way. You know? I like to make them feel something within themselves so that they can think differently or feel differently. I usually approach everything I do from an intimate perspective.

Mahmood: You know, my mom always tells me when she listens to my music, she discovers new things about me. I have this problem with the people I love, because I don’t like to speak about my private life. But when I write songs, if I don’t put something about my private life, I’m losing an opportunity to create this intimacy between me and the people who listen to me. This last album, Nei letti degli altri, is the most intimate album I’ve ever produced, because I worked a lot on myself these last two years. Also, the way that I connect with new people is different. I understood that many sides of my behavior were bad, and I decided to work on that, not close my eyes and just try to go home.

For example, I have this ex who was my longest relationship for five years. Now we are friends, but I wrote this song that was 100% sincere. There is a part in it where I say, “More than be part of a threesome, I would like to have some flowers.” I understand that sometimes, the other person can feel attacked because certain things need to be private. But if I censored that story, I would lose an opportunity to connect with people.

Willy: Yeah. You know, for me, it’s different because you are yourself on stage. You are the vessel, whereas I’m behind the scenes. I create a message that goes out to be seen and heard, so I keep my private life very private. But intimacy is more through feeling, so I just let the feeling out.

Mahmood: There are a lot of ways in which we could share our intimacy. The lyrics could be just one of them, but there are a lot. Also, your intimacy — when you were speaking about The Exorcist — I saw a little bit of that in the PAPER shoot. I wore your white dress with the ribbon element. There is something there that was a link for me.

Willy: But also you with your voice. You could just be singing, and the sound of your voice could be very intimate.

Mahmood: At the beginning of my career, when I signed my first contract, the label didn’t have a lot of trust in my writing skills. They wanted me to sing other authors’ songs, which I didn’t like. When you’re on stage singing something that doesn’t represent you, it’s torture. So I decided to speak the truth in my songs just because I wanted to feel free, be sincere with myself and be 100% on stage.

Willy: It’s being a true artist. That’s what being a true artist is.

I think a lot of people are talking about heartbreak now more than ever. I’m curious how you imbue the feeling of heartbreak into your work.

Mahmood: Basically, all my albums talk about this. In the title track for Nei letti degli altri, there is this sentence in which I say, “Potremmo parlare anziché immaginarci nei letti degli altri per dimenticarci,” which means “We could talk instead of thinking about us being in other people’s bed.” This thought was really heavy for me because this used to happen in my past. Once you decide to trust someone, you can’t think about all the mechanisms inside the relationship, but I didn’t trust anybody. This part of me is getting better because I’m growing. But two years ago, I really didn’t trust anybody.

And maybe some of it is trauma. I basically grew up with my mom because my parents split up when I was five, and so perhaps I developed trust issues. But I exercise this inside the lyrics.

Willy: A broken heart is so hard. I often think a broken heart is worse than death. It can be so incredibly painful. I mean, I’ve been in a relationship with the same person for over 20 years now, and before that relationship, I had a broken heart several times. I also broke other people’s hearts, which is really terrible, too. I work very hard every day to build trust and be trustworthy because I haven’t always been the best person. There were times when I couldn’t be trusted. But now I’m older and have a different perspective on what’s valuable to me. I realized the value of trust, and I realized that is such a vital component of love. The healthiest way you can have love is if you also have trust, because if you have one without the other…

Mahmood: It doesn’t work.

Willy: Yeah, it doesn’t work.

Do you have tips for sustaining a 20-year relationship? Because that’s a huge accomplishment. If you were to talk about the economy of love today, you just became a billionaire.

Willy: Mental health and personal well-being. I think it’s important for both parties to be doing that and to have an interest in being good. You can only be as good to the other person as you are to yourself, you know? I think for us, we’re able to clear away all of the mess and noise that happens in day-to-day life. We can say, “Okay, at the base of this, we care about each other.” I want what’s best for this person, he wants what’s best for me, and as long as we make that the focus of our love, then we can get through anything, and that’s important. You know, life is very difficult. There’s always going to be some crazy thing that happens. So, it’s very important to make sure that we are clear about the foundation of the relationship.

Do you two have a worst date story?

Willy: You know, I was never the dating type.

Mahmood: Yeah, me neither.

Willy: I can remember being on a few that were so bad that I would leave in the middle of the date, saying, “I’m sorry, I just can’t.”

Oh, so you would just straight up tell them?

Willy: There was one when I did not tell him, I just went to the bathroom but actually left. I know it’s so bad, but I was young. I was troubled.

Mahmood: [Gasps] It’s like that!

Willy: I felt really bad about it at the time, but when I look back on it, I think, “Thank goodness I did that,” because I probably would have slept with the guy.

Both of you are between big events right now. Willy, you’re between shows. Mahmood, you’re ending the European tour and getting ready to play Italian festivals in July and arenas starting in August. What do those slow periods look like for you? What are you doing to relax?

Mahmood: This year was really tough because I’m working a lot. I checked how many days I have to rest, and it’s just two weeks. But you know, I’m really happy. I’m happy because I’m doing new stuff for the first time. I’m performing in New York, so I don’t think about the effort when there is exciting stuff to do like that. These tours are giving good vibes.

Willy: I do not rest. I haven’t rested in years. It’s just work, work, work, work…

Mahmood: The devil never rests!

Willy: I can’t rest.

Mahmood: My assistant sent me a question: this thing about spit or lube?

Oh yes, I’m curious! If you want to answer, I’m not going to say no!

Willy: I mean, definitely spit.

Mahmood: At first, I thought lube because I always like to stay comfortable. But spit will never let you down. It could work in every place. Yeah, spit for me, too.

Willy: It’s really accessible.

Mahmood: What a perfect end to the conversation.

Photography: Hannah Khymych
Styling: Marissa Pelly
Grooming: Francis Rodriguez
Makeup: Kauv Onazh

Photo assistant: Ian Rutter
Digitech: Antonella Alberti
Styling assistant: MJ Perez
Styling intern: Phoebe Davis

Editor-in-chief: Justin Moran
Managing editor: Matt Wille
Editorial producer: Angelina Cantú
Cover type: Jewel Baek
Story: Kyle Rice
Interview: Willy Chavarria
Publisher: Brian Calle
Location: Rein Studios

A scene from Elden Ring: Shadow Of The Erdtree
Elden Ring: Shadow Of The Erdtree – prepare for some tree surgery (Bandai Namco)

GameCentral reviews the long-awaited expansion for Elden Ring and discovers another classic FromSoftware journey of pain and pleasure.

It’s not easy coming back to Elden Ring after two years away. Like many that completed the original we started a New Game+ and played only a few hours of that before finally moving onto other games. Then we realised in a panic, that to start this long-awaited expansion we’d need access to the domain of Mohg, Lord of Blood, which takes a considerable amount of time and effort to reach, even the second time around.

With most other games we’d have resented the restrictive requirements, and the thought of having to fight through tough bosses all over again, but we can’t pretend we didn’t enjoy every moment of it. Apart from anything, it was good practice for not only re-familiarising ourselves with the controls but the game’s unyielding attitude.

We started Shadow Of The Erdtree with a sturdy level 178 character, who had no trouble beating existing bosses a second time in New Game+. However, the moment we came across a new enemy in the expansion we were immediately confounded and died again, and again, and again, until they were beaten. Which was marvellous.

Although the term is relative when talking about FromSoftware games, Elden Ring is widely considered the easiest of their recent titles. But with DLC like this they no doubt feel that they’re dealing with a more hardcore audience. Even so, its difficulty is hard to quantify, as there’s no way to know what level character people might be playing with (although you’d imagine around 100 to get as far as Mohg) and right from the start the enemies range greatly in terms of their robustness.

A lot of the more minor opponents are pure cannon fodder (even though we still ended up getting killed by a dog the minute we started getting cocky) and yet many of the new enemies are extremely difficult, like the dancing grotesque that pounces on you as soon as you enter the new Land of Shadow.

The first mini-dungeon is very easy to find and is clearly meant as a statement of just how difficult the expansion can get, as its machinegun-owning occupant shoots you down with disarming ease. We quickly retreated outside, only to run into a giant walking brazier (of the sort that you can see in the trailers) that shoots colossal chunks of molten fire at you from miles away.

A scene from Elden Ring: Shadow Of The Erdtree
Elden Ring: Shadow Of The Erdtree – some enemies are genuinely creepy (Bandai Namco)

Take everything slowly and sensibly though and you can start to pick up the many new items the expansion introduces, including several new weapon types, such as thrusting shields, perfume bottles, great katanas, and martial arts. There are new spells (the new Heal from Afar is very handy for anyone wanting to play the part of healer in co-op), new skills, and new Ashes of War – as well as new talismans and new crystal tears for the Flask of Wondrous Physick.

Most people playing the expansion have probably already maxed out their health flasks and other upgrades, but the Land of Shadow provides new collectables which can increase your damage and defence, and that of your Spirit Ashes, but which has no effect when you’re back in the Lands Between.

The occasional cut scene gives a vague sense of what’s driving the story, which involves the Golden Order trying to purge the original inhabitants of the world, but as usual for From the details can only be discerned from reading item descriptions, which, also as usual, are purposefully ambiguous.

However, there are a number of friendly new characters who are attempting to do the godlike Miquella’s bidding, following his golden signs across the landscape to try and discover where he’s gone. Most have a quest associated with them, as they perform a similar to role to the characters in the Roundtable Hold, but there’s lots of other strange and dangerous sorts too, including dragon worshippers and Lovecraftian style cultists.

As well as the new open world area and many smaller, optional dungeons there are also three new legacy dungeons, which are the equivalent of something like Stormveil Castle in the main game. The level design for these is excellent, with one particularly clever one having multiple entrances so that it feels very non-linear – From games are often compared to Castlevania but this is perhaps the closest they’ve come yet.

The only real disappointment is that rather than fixing the glitch where it takes an extra second for ground textures to load in, once you respawn, it seems to take even longer now. We’re also confused as to whether the game even tells you what to do to start the expansion. We got a PR message when we started, so maybe in the final release that will change to an explanation that you need to defeat Mohg, but otherwise nothing else tells you where to go or why.

You could argue that Shadow Of The Erdtree doesn’t introduce anything substantially new but there are far more new weapon types, and weird new items, than you’d normally expect for a mere expansion. Although it’s hard to tell for sure, the map feels like roughly a fifth the size of the main game – which is exactly what From promised.

Wild invention is not something you would ever reasonably expect from an expansion, but this goes above and beyond in terms of the sheer amount of content and the size of the map. There are dozens of new enemies and bosses, and all are exactly as well designed as you’d expect of From.

Shadow Of The Erdtree offers few hints about From’s future but it does cement the fact that they’re currently at the very top of their game and it’s difficult to see how they’ll ever top the monumental achievement that Elden Ring has now become.

Elden Ring: Shadow Of The Erdtree DLC review summary

In Short: Exactly as engrossing and meticulously designed as you’d expect of FromSoftware but even by their standards this is an enthralling slice of DLC that underlines and enhances the achievements of the original.

Pros: Mountains of new content, including a whole new map, multiple new weapon types and armour sets, and some typically excellent bosses. New legacy dungeons are excellent.

Cons: No major gameplay innovations. Difficultly level feels more variable than the parent game and how to access the DLC is needlessly obscure.

Score: 9/10

Formats: PlayStation 5 (reviewed), Xbox One, PlayStation 4, Xbox Series X/S, and PC
Price: £34.99
Publisher: Bandai Namco
Developer: FromSoftware
Release Date: 21st June 2024
Age Rating: 16

A scene from Elden Ring: Shadow Of The Erdtree
Elden Ring: Shadow Of The Erdtree – nothing worth doing is easy (Bandai Namco)

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MORE : Elden Ring director promises not to lay off staff: ‘I would not let that happen’

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A compilation image of xQc appearing overwhelmed by Twitch's new Power-ups features
Power-ups is not Twitch’s most popular feature among streamers (Twitter/Twitch)

A new feature on Twitch lets fans take over streams with messages and emojis, but xQc and other creators want it gone.

One of the livestreaming world’s biggest stars, xQc, who signed a £55 million non-exclusivity deal with Kick last year and boasts 12 million followers on Twitch, is not too impressed with the newest chat feature on Twitch.

The new Power-ups feature is supposed to be fun, according to Twitch, by letting fans send paid-for messages and emojis with effects that make them stand out more.

Bombarded with emojis filling his livestream, an overwhelmed xQc quickly removed the feature by increasing the amount fans have to pay to use it, and he’s far from the only streamer to criticise it.

When the feature first went live, xQc’s entire broadcast was filled with emojis that floated across the screen for everyone to see.

‘What the f*** is all that,’ xQc exclaimed, as he asked a friend how to remove it.

He found his way into the settings, where he put the minimum donation amount to use the feature at $10,000.

‘Dude, this is insane,’ he said, as the invasive emojis quickly disappeared with the new donation setting.

xQc with the new Power-ups feature on Twitch
Welcome to the emoji show (Twitch)

In a blog post about the new Power-ups feature, chief monetisation officer at Twitch, Mike Minton, said:

‘I’m excited to announce that you can now level up your favorite streams using Power-ups. Power-ups are designed to provide fun and interactive ways to influence streams using Bits, all while supporting the streamers you love.’

The Power-ups feature comes with three new ways to interact with streamers.

One is by letting fans donate to streamers with messages that come with an effect attached. Another is to send an emoji across the screen for everyone to see. A third way is to send a giant version of an emoji into the chat.

xQc isn’t the only streamer left unimpressed by the Power-ups feature, with PirateSoftware replying to Twitch’s announcement tweet, complaining that there is no way to turn it off.

Although Twitch has responded to streamers praising the new feature since it launched, it hasn’t addressed the complaints asking for an off button.

The new Power-ups features cost fans roughly 45p for a chat message with an effect, and £4 for an on-screen celebration emoji.

Twitch chat feeds are already difficult to read, especially for bigger streamers who have lots of chatters at any time, and the new Power-ups feature isn’t helping in keeping track of what is said.

With the on-screen celebration emojis, it’s especially difficult to see what’s happening, as it can clog up the whole screen.

An example of the Twitch Power-ups chat
Stand out in the chat with cats with sunglasses (Twitch)

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To submit Inbox letters and Reader’s Features more easily, without the need to send an email, just use our Submit Stuff page here.

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MORE : xQc reveals exactly how much he earned from streaming in one year

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Elden Ring: Shadow Of The Erdtree screenshot
Elden Ring: Shadow Of The Erdtree – no one is being laid off once it’s finished (Bandai Namco)

FromSoftware president Hidetaka Miyazaki has quoted former Nintendo boss Satoru Iwata while assuring fans there will be no layoffs at his company.

We’re halfway through the year and the constant stories about publisher layoffs still show no sign of ending. Just this week we’ve seen the closure of Alone In The Dark developer Pieces Interactive and the revelation that EA paid its executives £47.3 million, despite laying off 670 people earlier in the year.

This has all being going on for over a year now and yet no Japanese company has been affected. The only exceptions have been the Microsoft-owned Tango Gameworks and Sony’s Japan Studio, where the PlayStation division is run like an American business and is headquartered in California.

Most Japanese companies have avoided commenting on the issue, since it doesn’t affect them, but Dark Souls and Elden Ring creator Hidetaka Miyazaki, who is also president of FromSoftware, has stated that: ‘This is not something I would wish on the staff at FromSoftware in a million years. I’m pretty sure our parent company Kadokawa understands that and shares that view.’

Although a number of outside companies, including Sony and Tencent, have minor stakes in From, the majority shareholder is Japanese media company Kadokawa Corporation, whose main business is manga and anime.

They’ve never seemed to be a malign influence and have ensured that From do not become a console exclusive company owned by Sony or Microsoft, but there’s always a worry of what might happen if times get tough.

However, like most Japanese developers recently, FromSoftware has not only been hiring but has also instituted significant pay rises.

It’s not that Japanese companies are charities and American companies are not but the pay rises, which have also occurred at publishers such as Square Enix and Capcom, were a response to historically low wages at many Japanese studios.

Japanese employment laws are also much stricter than those in the US, and while it’s possible to shut down whole studios it’s all but impossible to layoff large percentages of them and still leave the company in operation, which is what’s been happening in the US.

In comparing the attitudes of the two countries many have referenced former Nintendo president Satoru Iwata, who twice took a pay cut – as did the whole executive board, to a lesser extent – when things were looking bad during the Wii U era.

‘I think it was the old ex-president of Nintendo, Iwata-san, who said that ‘People who are afraid of losing their jobs are afraid of making good things.’ I’m paraphrasing that, but I totally share this view,’ Miyazaki told PC Gamer.

‘I think it’s true. And I think the people at Kadokawa, our parent company, understand that I hold this view very strongly. While we can’t say 100% – we can’t say with complete certainty what the future’s going to hold for From and Kadokawa – at least as long as this company is my responsibility, that’s something I would not let happen. So hopefully our players and our fans can take a little bit of assurance from that.’

That’s certainly not something you’d hear Xbox boss Phil Spencer or the head of EA saying, despite neither of their companies having anything close to financial problems.

The long-awaited Elden Ring DLC expansion Shadow Of The Erdtree is due to be released this month but after that it’s unclear what FromSoftware is working on, especially as they’re now big enough to work on two major projects at once.

Fans have long been hoping for a remaster or remake of PlayStation 4 exclusive classic Bloodborne – or a PC release – but despite Miyazaki stating that it and the first Dark Souls are his personal favourites, of the games he’s worked on, there’s still no evidence that it will return.

Hidetaka Miyazaki
Hidetaka Miyazaki doesn’t want to sack anyone (FromSoftware)

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