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Crystal Adventure Review

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Crystal Adventure Review

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Crystal Adventure was released on the DSiWare service on December 6, 2012 and published by Circle Entertainment. Crystal Adventure is an Action-adventure game – heavy on adventure and light on action – with RPG elements that features an overhead view.

crystaladventure_ss1The story of Crystal Adventure isn’t told as you play through the game, instead it appears in the game’s manual. I’m usually a fan of this method, but the game’s story is boring. Crystal Adventure is about a bounty hunter that has been hired to investigate a tower that may, or may not exist. The bounty hunter is sent to seek out this tower based on a rumor that says a sorcerer is collecting magic crystals for – and I’m not kidding when I write this – “some reason.” When you reach the tower, you discover that monsters are trying to summon a powerful demon, and of course, it’s up to you to defeat the demon. In a nutshell, the story is much too generic – a word that sums up the entirety of this game quite well, actually.

You control the bounty hunter in Crystal Adventure, and your objective is to progress through the tower until you reach the summoned demon. Generally, you clear the tower one floor at a time; however, there are times when you will need to travel between floors to work around some obstacles. Of course, the tower is littered with enemies, but you don’t actively attack, instead Crystal Adventure focuses on passive, auto-battles that initiate upon touching an enemy. The auto-battles are quite fine with me, personally, but due to this game’s poor overall design, they definitely don’t do any favours for Crystal Adventure.

As I was saying, once you touch an enemy, an auto-battle will begin. You will win said battle if your bounty hunter is strong enough to endure the enemy’s attack. You gain experience as you defeat monsters, and will level up after acquiring a specific number of experience points. Levelling your character is comparable to any standard RPG. Your HP, strength, and defense will increase making it possible to fight stronger enemies. As easy as that sounds, there is a fundamental flaw that makes advancing through Crystal Adventure quite difficult.

Trial and error plays a huge part in Crystal Adventure, and if you’re not sure of what enemies to attack (or items to collect) early on, then it’s very likely that you will die. In fact, with the game’s auto-save feature, it’s possible to make an error that keeps you from advancing further in the game. The auto-save will activate after traveling between floors, and if you’ve already used all the available – and limited – life potions, then you’re left with an unplayable game.

crystaladventure_ss2This happened to me twice – causing me to restart the game – before I realized that I needed to cautiously pick which enemies to attack, and which ones to leave alone. Knowing is only half the battle as the gameplay is repetitive and boring. I did manage to struggle my way to the end, only to be met with one of the worst endings in video game history.

For those that are still curious, there are additional health, strength, and defense upgrades that can be found (and bought) for your bounty hunter that will make the ordeal a little less frustrating – sadly; it doesn’t make the game any less boring.

On top of poor gameplay mechanics and a less than thrilling story, Crystal Adventure sports generic art and music, as well. The graphics remind me of those early 90s PC games that had zero soul and passion. The music is even less impressive, grating away at your eardrums as you play through the game.

Final Thoughts:

Unfortunately, we can’t recommend Crystal Adventure to anyone, even at its $1.99 price point. Crystal Adventure feels incomplete, almost like it was never even played by game testers. Quite frankly, I’m surprised that Nintendo is letting this one sit on the virtual shelves of the Nintendo eShop.

2/10 – Awful

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Goony Review

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Developed by Moragami, Goony is an arcade-style video game that challenges you to guide Goony – a jelly-like creature – down an infinite, randomly generated road full of dangerous obstacles.

When you start up the game, you are thrown directly into the action as there is no title screen. Don’t fret; the game won’t actually start until you move Goony. To move Goony, press left or right on the D-Pad, then watch him climb down the blocky road, reminiscent of the always amazing, Slinky. Your goal is to last as long as possible, and to do this you must avoid enemies and falling in the lava. Colliding with an enemy will cause Goony to devolve to weaker ball-like states, and if this happens three times, Goony is toast.

Goony_ss2Goony will build momentum if you continue downwards uninterrupted; however, if the action gets too fast, landing on an oil slick will slow things down. You can also get some assistance from the coins and buttons that can be found on the road. If Goony is in his main state, collecting ten coins will transform him into an airplane, and another ten will change him into a UFO. These transformations will allow Goony to skip safely over a portion of the road, for a limited time. Collecting ten coins will also return Goony to a more powerful state, should he be nearly dead. Coins are also used as a form of checkpoint, meaning the more coins you collect, the closer to your place of death you will spawn. match I also briefly mentioned buttons, and these can be semi-useful. Yellow buttons will change enemies into coins, blue buttons will freeze certain enemies, and the green button will automatically guide Goony down a safe path.

At its core, Goony is a simple, but addictive DSiWare game, despite its many flaws. For example, each time you play, the course you try to overcome is automatically generated, but the roads it creates can be downright hell. Sometimes the course will be too crowded, while other times it will lead you directly into the lava via a “conveniently” placed coin path. This is frustrating as your objective is to get as far as possible, but the game seems to enjoy stacking together the most difficult course possible. I have also noticed that shortly after 300 steps, the game seems to flip a switch and become painfully difficult.

Goony_ss1Difficulty aside, Goony is still a fun and addictive title, especially if you happen to generate a course that plays fair. I also credit the game’s replay value to its one infectious theme song that just melts my brain with its retro charm. As for Goony’s visuals, they have a generic retro flair, but they do work well for this game.

If you want to get more out of Goony, you can edit blocks with the game’s block editor, and share them via QR codes. I did create some to share with you, but I can’t seem to find them on my SD card at the moment, so stay tuned.

Final Thoughts:

Goony delights when its randomly generated courses play fair, but frustrates when it forces you to overcome its version of hell. I try to put the title down, but I end up coming back to try to top my previous score, which currently stands at 730 steps; I also find myself returning for its brilliant theme song. Goony is $1.99 (200 Points) on the Nintendo eShop, and can be an enjoyable experience, if you’re dealt the right hand.

7/10 – Good

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Publisher Dream Review

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publisherdreamPublisher Dream Review

Ever have dreams about developing and publishing video games for a living? Well, if you have, Publisher Dream – a DSiWare game published by Circle Entertainment – lets you live out your dream, well, at least the publishing side of things. Publisher Dream is a video game publisher simulation that lets you control the decisions your company makes.

Upon starting Publisher Dream, you are immediately put to work as the owner of Triangle, an aspiring video game publisher given nine years to become successful. There is a short introduction when you start, and then it’s off to make some games. You start with $100,000 in capital and two employees that are eager to start creating. To get started, you’ll need to open the menu by tapping it on the touchscreen, then choosing the controller icon to start a project. It’s pretty easy to get started, but your options are limited in the beginning.

PublisherDream_ss1You can only work with three genres in the beginning – Puzzle, Education, and Card – and only have the option create small games. Once you have selected a genre, you must then assign employees to a role, choose an outsourced musician to create the soundtrack, and assign promotional costs – higher promo costs will usually result in higher sales. Small games only require a designer and programmer, but eventually need to start assigning planners and managers, as you unlock medium and large projects. As you play, you’ll also unlock new genres, all of which level up dependant on how often you work with the genre. Levelling up genres seemed to make my development team work faster on those genres, so it’s worth the grinding efforts.

The amount your games sell will be largely based on two attributes: attraction and score. To increase the score of your game, you must assign your employees according to their stats. There are three stats to pay attention to when assigning employees their role: design, logic, and management. Someone who is high in design will be a better representative for the role of designer, while someone higher in logic will excel at programming. Once everything is set, all there is to do is sit back and wait for your employees to do their magic. Once the game is developed, you set a price – higher prices will reduce the game’s attraction and score – and it will start selling on the fictional cShop within two weeks.

A day of development in Publisher Dream – from 9 A.M. to 6 P.M. – is actually considered a week. There are four weeks to a month, and 12 months to the year for a total of 48 possible work weeks. A game will only sell for 24 weeks on the cShop, meaning your game will sell for just half of the year.

Your employees will also get stressed out as they work on projects, and the more stress they feel, the longer the game will take to develop. Plus, to start a new project, you will need to have a certain amount of energy available; otherwise you need to let your employees rest. To help with both of these attributes, you can add Fitments, such as furniture and plants, to your office space. These fitments will also help with other attributes, as well, but they are expensive and require a monthly maintenance fee. Speaking of fees, you’ll have to ensure you have enough cash to cover monthly expenses.

You receive payment for your games’ sales after every quarter, so you’ll need to be aware of your capital when making decisions. If your expenses exceed your capital, you will be forced to borrow money to keep your operation afloat – if this happens three times, it will be game over for you.

PublisherDream_ss2Eventually, as you obtain milestones, you will move into a larger office space, meaning you can recruit more employees. More employees mean you can increase your development output, but you can only work on four projects at a time. In addition to monthly maintenance fees, you’ll also need to pay monthly salaries. Salaries are determined by an employee’s stats; the higher an employee’s stats, the higher their salary will be. Of course, salaries will increase as your employees level up.

For the most part, as you can probably tell, there isn’t a lot of substance regarding the gameplay of Publisher Dream. You choose a genre, size, and then assign employees based on their stats. There is little variety to the formula, and as long as you make smart decisions, you will stay above water. It’s strangely addictive, but also quite monotonous. There are a few small things that break up the monotony, such as investing in third-party developers, and changing the background music to affect your development team’s output. You can also read through your company’s sales and stats if you get bored, or try to unlock some of the game’s built-in achievements.

Visually, Publisher Dream is easy on the eyes, though you will be looking at the same thing during every week of in-game time. Regardless, I find its isometric, pixel style appealing, although, I wish I could say the same about the game’s music. At best, the music is generic, average and repetitive, and adds little personality to the overall game.

Final Thoughts:

As I said above, Publisher Dream is strangely addictive, but I could only take its monotonous structure in chunks. For $1.99 (or 200 Points), you get a game that will last you about six hours, more if you desire a second play. After the six hour mark is up, you will have finished your ninth year as a video game publisher, and the game will end. I was a little disappointed that I couldn’t continue playing because I had more milestones, achievements, and genres to unlock. To see absolutely everything, you will have to dedicate yourself to learning every nuance of this Publisher Dream. This game might be an OK choice for those seeking a neat simulation title, but it won’t appeal to everyone.

6/10 – Above Average

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Kickstarter Funded Orion’s Odyssey Headed to Nintendo eShop and DSiWare

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Around 19 hours ago, Orion’s Odyssey: A Pattern Blocks Adventure was officially funded for release on the Nintendo eShop, and DSiWare services. Some of you may remember Orion’s Odyssey from their previous attempt at funding a retail Nintendo DS release.

Orion’s Odyssey: A Pattern Blocks Adventure is a puzzle game originally developed for the Nintendo DS. In the game, you follow an alien robot that goes by the name of, you guessed it, Orion. Orion has the ability to create objects at will, which will ultimately come in handy while helping people during the game’s Adventure Mode.

Orion’s Odyssey will also feature a Free-play Mode that will let you revisit puzzles from Adventure Mode, and a Challenge Mode which promises to challenge hardcore puzzle solvers by restricting puzzle pieces, and changing puzzles entirely.

Color Commando Review

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Color Commando Review

Developed by Goodbye Galaxy Games, Color Commando is a puzzle game with platforming elements. It was released just a few weeks back (April 25) on the Nintendo DSiWare service – and by default, the Nintendo eShop – for 200 DSiWare points. Unlike a lot of current games, Color Commando doesn’t feature a story; instead, the game focuses on a unique painting mechanic.

Color Commando features five worlds, with each world containing five levels. The goal in every level is to find a way to reach its treasure. You’ll be doing this by making use of the game’s painting mechanic. In each level, you’ll find paint that matches the color of that level’s enemies. Touching enemies will spell defeat for your character, but with proper use of paint, you can avoid nearly every situation.

colorcommando3Using the touch screen, you can touch the spot you wish to paint, of course, that is if you have paint in your inventory. If you paint over enemies of the same color, you can pass through them without getting hurt. If you paint a wall, enemies of matching color will be able pass through, adding a nice variety to the overall gameplay.

The painting mechanic is quite clever and works well, but you’ll also need to control the main character with the D-Pad. He can climb ladders, and walk left to right, but he cannot jump. Taking the jump away actually lends itself to the puzzling nature of Color Commando, mainly because it forces you to think about your available options.

In addition to the main gameplay, there are also three coins to collect on every level. Collecting every coin in a world will open its fifth, locked level. This isn’t a necessary task, but it will add a few more minutes to an otherwise short game – an experienced gamer can beat this game within an hour. Color Commando isn’t a hard game, but I did find myself stumped on a few occasions. During these moments, I had to experiment with the paint to find the correct path to each coin and treasure, but overall, Color Commando is quite easy.

colorcommando1While Color Commando is a fun, creative game, there are a few minor flaws. First, there are only two types of enemies in the game, both of which are easy to overcome. Adding more enemies could have easily spiced up the gameplay quite a bit. Level design, while good, could also be improved upon by adding new and more difficult obstacles. There are also a few coins placed in such a way that will force you to take a leap of faith, and hope for the best. Adjusting them just a few pixels could have made those sections a lot less painful.

Outside of those minor flaws, Color Commando boasts charming, colorful visuals that can easily compete with the best of the DSiWare library. Color Commando also has an ear-pleasing soundtrack, though some may argue that it has too few tracks. Overall, I think every track is excellent, so I didn’t mind listening to them multiple times throughout the adventure.

Final Thoughts:

Those looking for an interesting puzzle game might find themselves enjoying Color Commando’s clever paint mechanic. It is a short and sweet experience that is over in a heartbeat, but remains fun until the very end, in despite of its flaws. At just a $1.99, it’s hard not to recommend Color Commando, but inevitably, it won’t be for everybody.

7/10 – Good

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New Club Nintendo Reward: Featured Games for May 2013

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Four new games are now available on Club Nintendo, for members willing to part with some coins. There are some interesting choices this month with something for the RPG fan, something for the arcade fan, and something for the sports fans.

Super Mario RPG: Legend of the Seven Stars – 200 Coins

Maboshi’s Arcade – 150 Coins

3D Classics: Excitebike – 150 Coins

Art Style: Aquia – 100 Coins

EnjoyUp Games Announces New DSiWare Game, Armageddon

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EnjoyUp Games is announcing Armageddon, a runner game in which the player has to stop an asteroid from hitting Earth. The game features four planets with eight levels each and easy handling with touchscreen controls.

Here is the full fact sheet for Armageddon:

Armageddon Operation Dragon

All stars and planets in the cosmos eventually come to an end!

Solar System, 2037.

An asteroid as large as the moon is headed directly towards Earth.

Imminent Forecast: Total Destruction!!!

The human race will face its Armageddon, unless you can stop it.

There is no weapon powerful enough to destroy or even divert it from its Earth-bound trajectory. Only an amount of energy greater than what our sun produces could prevent it.

That magnitude of energy is located outside of our solar system, at the 4 cardinal points of the galaxy. At those coordinates are the planets:  Upsil-on, Magnet-on, Fusi-on and Dark-on.

Visit each planet to collect the greatest amount of energy and the mission will be a complete success. Humanity will die out some day, but not this time! Be brave! It’s in your hands to prevent it!

Features:

* 32 levels (4 planets with 8 levels each).

* Runner playability.

* Touch control and easy handling.

* Amazing, innovative graphics.

* Local ranking.

Armageddon (DSiWare) Screenshots

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Screenshots posted on April 27, 2013

Nintendo Download for April 18, 2013

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Super Little Acorns 3D Turbo swings onto the Nintendo eShop this week and a big sale on Guild01 games begins.

Nintendo 3DS eShop

Super Little Acorns 3D Turbo

Witch & Hero

LEGO City Undercover: The Chase Begins

Harvest Moon: The Tale of Two Towns 3D

Mystery Murders: Jack the Ripper

Puzzler Brain Games – Available April 23

Puzzler World 2013 – Available April 23

Tetris: Axis

DLC for Pokémon Mystery Dungeon: Gates to Infinity – New Mystery Dungeons are now available for purchase.

Nintendo 3DS eShop Sales

Liberation Maiden – $4.99 until May 30

Crimson Shroud – $4.99 until May 30

Aero Porter – $2.99 until May 30

Dress To Play: Cute Witches! – $1.99 until April 24

Pokedex 3D Pro sale ends 9 AM PST on April 19

Nintendo DSiWare

Puzzler Brain Games – Available April 23

Puzzler® World 2013 – Available April 23

Working Dawgs: Rivet Retriever

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BearShark Season Finale

DSiWare Game Clash of Elementalists Coming to Nintendo eShop Later This Week

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Clash of Elementalists will be coming to the Nintendo eShop (and the DSiWare service) on April 11, 2013, and will be available at a $4.99 (500 DSiWare Points) price tag.

Clash of Elementalists is a four player arena game in which you choose to fight as one of four Elementalists that specialize in the following elements: Fire, Earth, Air, and Water. You can play on multiple battlefields in single player, or crush the competition in four player local wireless matches.

Jump Trials Extreme Review

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Jump Trials Extreme Review

Jump Trials Extreme is a sequel to Jump Trials and was released just one month later on December 27, 2012. Jump Trials Extreme is nearly identical to Jump Trials, however, setting the two apart are its many improvements to graphics, level design, and replay value.

As for concept, nothing has changed in Jump Trials Extreme. You are still controlling a stickman and must complete each of the game’s 100+ stages in less than 10 seconds. The controls are exactly the same meaning you’ll only be worrying about moving and jumping, and even the physics for how the stickman handles hasn’t changed. However, G-Style has added new features to make playing the game’s main mode, Trials Mode, both more interesting, and challenging.

jumptrialsextreme_ss1The most obvious additions to the game are its new obstacles. New additions include the pairing of colored doors and switches, intermittent spikes, limited use springs, and see-saw lifts. Of course, all the old obstacles make a return, but it’s the new ones that add some much needed spice to the game.

It’s also worth mentioning that every stage is completely new, and while some may look familiar, these familiarities fade fast. As for the stage design, it’s much more punishing this time around and will the game will start to challenge you earlier than Jump Trials did. Jump Trials Extreme has larger stages when compared to its predecessor, and also has multiple paths. While these paths have no real influence on the main mode – other than giving you a little variety – they do play a much bigger role in the game’s Challenge Mode, and the new Time Attack Mode.

Back in Jump Trials Extreme is the fascinating Challenge Mode which challenges you to collect three medals of Bronze, Silver, and Gold variety, then complete the stage. This mode has remained relatively the same, except now you will have to travel along some of the stages’ alternate paths to collect every medal.

jumptrialsextreme_ss2New to the series is Time Attack Mode, a much needed time trials experience that should have been included in the original. Time Attack Mode is similar to Challenge Mode in the sense that you are completing the same 100 stages from Trials Mode, but now you are competing for the fastest time. You are awarded a bronze, silver, or gold badge dependant on your performance. The times to beat have been set by the developers, and they make things extremely challenging. In my opinion, this is where the alternate paths play their biggest role, which is forcing you to find the quickest path to the exit.

Musically, Jump Trials Extreme is much of the same. While the tracks are new, and enjoyable, there is nothing special about them, and they do repeat quite often. However, the graphics have been improved quite a bit. Stages now look less bland with some nice background art, and the overall presentation has been given a nice face lift.

Final Thoughts:

There isn’t much more to say about Jump Trials Extreme that hasn’t already been said in the Jump Trials review. It is a much more challenging experience that also manages to retain the charm of the original. I thoroughly enjoyed this title as much as its predecessor, and believe its new features give it a slight edge. Also, the game has a secret eleventh level which holds 10 of the hardest stages you’ll play across both games. These stages even carry over to the game’s supporting modes, increasing the overall replay value. Speaking of replay value, I have been playing for a little over four hours, which happens to be double my time with the first game. If you enjoyed Jump Trials, Jump Trials Extreme is a must purchase, especially at its low price of $1.99.

8/10 – Great

Purchased on the Nintendo eShop

DSiWare Title Goony Coming Next Thursday

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Circle Entertainment is bringing its DSiWare title, Goony, to the Nintendo eShop/DSiWare service next Thursday, March 14. In Goony, you control a jelly-like creature on its journey down a road of hazardous obstacles.

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Jump Trials Review

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Jump Trials Review

I stumbled upon Jump Trials during a search for cheap games on the Nintendo eShop. I watched the video provided and was convinced that I’d enjoy the game. It was released on November 15, 2012 and comes from a developer known as G-Style. The game only costs $1.99, and contains the core elements of what make platformers, well, platformers.

jumptrials_screen1The game’s main mode is Trials Mode, which features 100 simplistic arcade-like stages. You start off with the most basic platforming challenges at Level 10 and work your way up to the last level, Level 1. Your main objective in every level of trials mode is to jump on the pink switch; however, first, you must jump over a variety of obstacles. Each level contains 10 different stages that introduce you to new obstacles like icy floors, disappearing blocks, and spikes. The first few stages are easy to let you learn the basics of each obstacle, while the latter stages become much more challenging. Sticking to the theme of 10, each stage must be completed in less than 10 seconds.

In Jump Trials, you control a nameless stickman with only two moves in their repertoire: walking, and jumping. Walking is done simply enough with the D-Pad while jumping is accomplished with the A button. It will take a few stages to get the hang of the controls, mainly because the stickman’s movement is a little slow and the jumping feels a little heavy. You can change directions while jumping, but the stickman falls fast so you’ll have to judge accordingly. After a few stages, I became a platforming master, but the controls still played a small role in my failure during some of the game’s harder stages. Jumping with precision will be the key to clearing many of this game’s obstacles.

For the most part, Jump Trials is an extremely easy title, but as I mentioned above, there will be some tricky stages. Regardless, I had a lot of fun with Jump Trials, especially in the game’s Challenge Mode. In this mode, you are challenged to collect three medals (bronze, silver, and gold) and jump on the switch before the timer expires. While it isn’t necessary that you collect all three medals, you will be rewarded with a golden crown if you do. Getting the gold crowns on every level is much more challenging than completing the main game, and twice as fun. Levels will only become available when they are completed in Trials Mode.

jumptrials_screen2Visually, Jump Trials continues its bare necessities approach with very simplistic graphics. The main character is a stickman and it doesn’t really get much more basic than that. The levels are comprised of generic looking platforms and obstacles, as well as bland backgrounds. It would have been nice if G-Style cranked up the presentation factor a little bit. Sound wise, there isn’t a whole lot to say. There are only a few tracks, all of which are OK, but they repeat often. Again, it would have been nice to see G-Style put a little more effort into the non-gameplay aspects of its game.

Final Thoughts:

Jump Trials is a fun, yet bare-boned platformer that challenges you to overcome its obstacles without becoming too frustrating. Its simplistic approach definitely works in its favour, but more effort in the visuals and soundtrack would be welcomed. Jump Trials will take just a little over two hours to fully complete, which amounts to about a dollar an hour. I’d recommended this to fans of the platformer genre, especially if you’re looking for a pick-up-and-play experience.

7.5/10 – Good

Purchased on the Nintendo eShop

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