Tuesday, May 23, 2017
Tuesday, May 16, 2017
Tuesday, April 18, 2017
With so many developers resorting to various collections, remasters, and ports of their previous games, I think it's safe to say that we all feel a little burnt out. "We want new IPs," we cry from our keyboards. We want something original. Is that too much to ask?
However, just recently Capcom announced the Disney Afternoon Collection, featuring six of their classic NES titles. For those of you too young to remember, Capcom's licensed games are standouts among the glut of garbage games we had to wade through in the late 80s/early 90s. The collection features DuckTales, DuckTales 2, Chip 'n Dale Rescue Rangers, Rescue Rangers 2, TaleSpin, and Darkwing Duck.
I was lucky to get in on the NES collecting scene before the prices of those games skyrocketed. If you were to try to procure those six games on their original cartridges today, you'd be spending more than what it costs for a PlayStation Pro system. So, needless to say, $20 for six of Capcom's best games on the NES is a steal.
This announcement got me to thinking, and even though I too am guilty of sometimes complaining about the constant ports, remasters, and collections, there are a few series and games I wouldn't mind seeing getting a second chance on current systems.
The Dead Space Collection
Dead Space 2 is my personal favorite in the series. It was more action packed but still kept you checking around every corner to prevent any unwanted scares. Dead Space 2 is to Dead Space what Aliens is to Alien. Similar idea, same threat, but more things blowing up. Dead Space 2 was the exact opposite to me in terms of stress level, I actually beat this one in three sittings, I couldn't put it down. It also has one of the best opening sequences I've ever played, and that very well may be the scariest part of the entire game.
Dead Space 3 is the black sheep of the franchise, but I liked it quite a bit. People seemed to be down on the optional cooperative scenarios, which I didn't mind. The one criticism I do agree with is the crafting system. The previous two games had ways to upgrade weapons, and that was great, but I couldn't get a hang of the crafting aspects and after a while just stopped caring. Just make the plasma cutter more powerful, that's all we need. The game was also somewhat non-linear, and had several crafting or upgrade items that could be found if you chose to take on side missions. We can ignore how silly the final boss was...actually, EA, if you just want to retcon that part out with some extra content (like you did with Mass Effect 3), I would be alright with that.
Since this is a collection, it should go without saying that I would expect all DLC to be included in the package.
As an added incentive for PS4 owners, how great would it be if the Wii game, Dead Space Extraction, could be optimized for play on PlayStation VR?
The Contra Collection
Listen up, Konami. I'm going to say this real slow so you'll understand:
I. Will. Give. You. Money. To. Play. Your. Classic. Franchises.
It's as simple as that. I don't care if it's just a cash grab and you give nothing more than the bare bones on all of these games. I don't care if you put in any fancy-pants museum features or concept art or any of that. Just let me play the Contra games in one collection. It doesn't even have to include every Contra game, just the good ones is all I ask.
This collection should be comprised of Contra and Super C (the NES versions, not the arcade), Contra III: The Alien Wars, Contra Hard Corps, Contra: Shattered Soldier, and if they can make it work, Contra 4.
I know I already said they don't have to throw in any extras, but it would be nice if they threw in the original Probotector versions of the games as well.
Grand Theft Auto: Chinatown Wars Remastered
The Grand Theft Auto series has always been hit or miss for me. My introduction to the series was Grand Theft Auto III, which I loved. I enjoyed the follow up, Vice City, even more. San Andreas did nothing for me, I think GTA IV is the most overrated game of the last generation, but GTA V is outstanding.
Then there's this plucky little standout title they originally made for the Nintendo DS and then ported to the PSP. I remember there being a number of people both shocked and/or confused at the idea of a mature rated title appearing on Nintendo's kid-friendly handheld. It is a bit strange, I suppose, but I'm glad Nintendo allowed it, because Chinatown Wars is my favorite game donning the Grand Theft Auto name.
Not only does the game return to its PSone roots with the top-down perspective, but the game within the game (i.e. the drug dealing) is really well done. As terrible as it sounds, I became downright enamored with becoming a drug dealer in this game. I was constantly on the lookout for someone selling drugs low and then finding someone to sell them to for profit. But it wasn't always that easy, sometimes the person selling or buying the drugs would be an undercover police officer, and you'd have to shoot your way out of the situation.
The game's setting was a nice change of pace from the typical giant metropolis you see in the console GTA titles, and the driving and shooting was serviceable enough to never be frustrating. I would gladly pay $20 for a downloadable version of this game on current consoles.
Mega Man X Legacy Collection
This one is a bit of a cheat because it already exists as a collection on the PS2 and GameCube, but so did the original Mega Man collection, and I bought those again when they were released on current systems, so why not do the same with the Mega Man X games?
When the Mega Man Legacy Collection was released back in 2015, I was a bit disappointed that they stopped with the NES hexalogy and didn't give us all ten games that fall under the Mega Man banner, especially when you consider just how amazing Mega Man 9 is.
But the Mega Man X series is the real deal. I had fallen off of Mega Man after the NES, but having gone back and played a first few entries in the X series, their superiority is evident. Everything got better: the music, the boss weapons, the bosses themselves, the level design, and an added incentive to explore each level for upgrades.
Some might say the series eventually took a wrong turn and just kept going, but when you look at Metacritic scores, only one game in the series (Mega Man X7) received below average scores, while most hover in the 70s or higher.
I have no knowledge of how the original Mega Man Legacy Collection performed for Capcom, but I would imagine the cost to produce the game was fairly low, and I can't imagine the amount needed for this collection would be much greater, so perhaps it's worth the risk.
The good news is that there are several ways to play these games outside of their original means, which is a good thing, as Mega Man X2 and X3 are two more games that will put a decent hole in your bank account, but it would be great to have them all in one place with some bonus material.
The Castlevania Saga
Few series hold as special of a place in my heart as Castlevania. The original game was one of the first video games I ever played, and even though I didn't beat for the first time until last year, it's a game that I revere as highly as games like Super Mario Bros. 3 and the aforementioned Contra. The only problem here is that Konami hates us. With a fiery passion, they hate us.
There are two problems this collection faces. First, there are nearly 20 games in the series chronology, and a lot of them play exactly the same. As much as I enjoy the 'Metroidvania' genre, I try to abstain from playing too many of them in short periods of time. They eventually become cumbersome. Secondly, if we're trying to get every main entry in one collection, we're looking at 3D games that wouldn't work too well on a handheld, or a console release with three titles designed for the Nintendo DS hardware. Of course, the latter of those two seems like an easier fix, especially when only Dawn of Sorrow made any real use of the DS touch screen.
We'll forego the Lords of Shadow series, as it's a different timeline and two of the three games therein are mediocre if I'm being generous.
It's a shame that Konami doesn't look upon their franchises with the same lens as their fans, and I hate to think of this once mighty series of games going out with zero fanfare. The last canonical Castlevania game in the original timeline was Order of Ecclesia, which, despite being one of my personal favorites, isn't the unintended sendoff the series deserved.
I can only hope Igarashi doesn't do with Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night what Inafune did with Mighty No. 9, and that it'll be a proper spiritual successor to the Castlevania name.
What other collections, ports, or remasters would you like to see?
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Wednesday, March 29, 2017
On a recent episode of the Error Machine Podcast, we delved deep into the world of The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. The nearly two hour episode covered everything from the hype surrounding the game to our littlest of nitpicks to the build up for the final battle. On the podcast, Erik Snedegar brought up an excellent point when he said that the entire game is just hype for the final battle with Ganon, and that couldn't be a more apt way to sum up the game.
Don't misunderstand me, there is a whole lot more to the game than just "go here, do this," and I wouldn't dare trivialize everything it does right by saying so. The ultimate goal of the game is to, of course, kill Ganon and free Princess Zelda, which is the same basic plot we've seen in many Zelda titles. But every previous game in the series required specific boxes to be checked and certain obligations to be fulfilled before facing the ultimate evil.
Here, however, your goal is singular, and that is, as it says on your Adventure Log during the entire game: "Destroy Ganon."
I did every optional piece of the main quest, and with each successive Divine Beast I tamed and every subsequent boss I bested, the anticipation and anxiety of my eventual confrontation with this supreme evil only grew that much greater. The cutscenes that would follow each "dungeon" featuring the fallen Champions were nothing more than exposition in which the Champion explained how they were too weak to defeat Ganon and that they'd been waiting 100 years for another opportunity.
Even something as small as learning recipes that could be used to make more powerful elixirs and meals that would replenish more life felt like skills that would help in the final approach. Every time I learned something new, every time I would cash in Korok seeds for a new inventory slot, every time I would use Spirit Orbs to increase my health or stamina, when I found the Master Sword, when I would upgrade my armor, every single thing that I did in the game, no matter how great or small, felt like reaching the summit of a new mountain.
The Rocky film that Breath of the Wild seems most comparable to is Rocky IV. At this point, Rocky is the champion and is considered the best boxer in the world. He's rich and famous and is living the American dream. He even has a robot, which is the easiest way to point out human success.
An amateur boxer from the Soviet Union by the name of Ivan Drago shoots up the ranks, challenges former champion and Rocky's best friend, Apollo Creed, to an exhibition fight, which results in the Russian fighter killing Apollo in the ring. Rocky has no choice but to challenge Drago and avenge his fallen comrade. The montage that takes place before the fight is pure cinematic gold.
Even though Rocky is the champion, he's the underdog. He chooses to fight Drago on his home turf in front of a crowd of hostile Russians, and even his own wife doesn't believe he has what it takes to defeat Drago. This is not unlike the story of Breath of the Wild. Link is the Hylian "Champion," he enters Hyrule castle--which has been overtaken by hostile enemies--to fight Ganon, the one who killed his friends, and even some of the other Champions and townsfolk doubt Link's ability to win the battle.
In the end, good triumphs over evil, Rocky knocks out Drago (spoilers for that, too, I guess), Link bests Ganon and seals him away, and all is well. I must say that if you take the time to tame the Divine Beasts, the beginning of the final battle is well worth that effort. It has a great build up, a satisfying payoff, and tasks you with putting all of your previous learned skills to the test. It's the culmination of an 80-hour montage
If there were anything that I could count as disappointing in the game, it's the lack of a human form for Ganon. All game long it's pounded into your head that you have to beat Calamity Ganon and that's he's the purest form of evil in the world, but you're never told exactly why or how he got to be this way. We don't get any face to face confrontation, no stare down, no villainous monologue, just a boss fight.
This does not, however, make victory any less sweet.
Thanks for reading, and don't forget to check me out everywhere else.
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Monday, March 27, 2017
For the first time in over a year (probably), Erik Snedeger returns to the Error Machine Podcast to help the rest of us heap loads and loads of praise upon The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. We don't spoil anything but still manage to talk about a lot of different aspects of the game, including experiences that no one else among us has encountered.
Thursday, March 16, 2017
Resident Evil 7 is officially a success for Capcom. The game has already recouped its development costs with 2.8 million units sold worldwide thus far. Interestingly, this pales in comparison to the amount of units sold for the two previous numbered entries, Resident Evil 5 (8.08 million), and Resident Evil 6 (7.83 million), though its still very early in the game's life.
However, there's one thing that needs to be taken into consideration when comparing Resident Evil 7 with RE5/RE6. Not only is Resident Evil 7 a success financially, but it was also a huge critical success, garnering very high and even some perfect scores from major review outlets.
After Resident Evil 5--despite being what I consider an underrated game--deviated even further from the paths set by the early games than even Resident Evil 4 did, fans started begging for the Resident Evil franchise to return to its horror roots. What we instead got with Resident Evil 6 was a game that was too big for its own britches.
This is six protagonists too many.
It was 25 hours longer than it had any right to be, was overly convoluted, and added gameplay mechanics that fans never expected to see in their beloved franchise, like swimming sections, car chases, Michael Bay levels of explosions, a cover-shooting system (expanded from the one introduced in RE5), a stamina meter, and way too many cutscenes. Resident Evil was having an identity crisis. It couldn't tell if it was Resident Evil, Call of Duty, Gears of War, or Metal Gear Solid, so it tried to be all of them and succeeded at being none of them.
I'll go on record and say that I think the Revelations spin-off games are excellent and should be played by any fan that may have skipped them. But it seemed Resident Evil was content with fading into obscurity after the abysmal Operation Raccoon City and Umbrella Corps receiving many "Worst Game of the Year" awards in 2016.
Then Resident Evil 7 breathed new life into Capcom's dying IP. As someone who has been a fan of the series since its outset, I can say that the game deserves the high praise and perfect scores that it's receiving. So many things were done right. To me, the two things that make a truly good survival horror game are making the player feel vulnerable at all times and making you not want to progress in the game.
That second one seems counter-intuitive to general videogame design, but survival horror fans don't come to the genre to feel good about themselves, they enjoy the tension and the rush of not knowing what's ahead. Several times during my playthroughs I would hear a tapping on the windows or footsteps on the floor above me, making me dread my inevitable trek up the stairs.
Mainly to avoid creepy grandma at all costs.
I could sit here and lavish praise upon RE7 all day, but what I really want to discuss is what this means for the future of Capcom.
I'm 31 years old, and the first time I picked up a videogame controller was at the age of 3 with the NES. Two game companies that I grew up with were Capcom and Konami. Contra, Castlevania, and Metal Gear are three of my favorite series of all-time, but because of the changing climate in games development, it's unlikely that I'll ever see anything outside of spiritual sequels to these franchises (don't you dare try to tell me that Metal Gear Survive is a true sequel, I'll have none of it).
So with Konami lying in the grave and waiting to have the dirt piled on, my attention turns to Capcom, who are also responsible for delivering some of my favorite games ever. Despite positive reviews, Street Fighter V left a sour taste in the mouths of fans due to all that it was lacking in terms of the overall user experience. Devil May Cry was unnecessarily rebooted with a redesigned Dante that no one liked. Conversely, Dead Rising 4 relied too heavily on the appeal of its main character and delivered a sub par open-world experience. And finally, we have Mega Man, who has been MIA since 2010.
Mighty No. 9 turned out to be a colossal flop, but the one thing it did have was a very successful Kickstarter campaign. Keiji Inafune was very forthcoming with what Mighty No. 9 was: a spiritual sequel to the Mega Man franchise. The game may have burned a lot of fans by the time it was released, but if anything, that Kickstarter should have sent a message to Capcom that we do, in fact, want to play these games and are willing to give you money to do so.
Perhaps even too much money.
Resident Evil 7 received praise for returning to its roots and giving us the type of experience that made us fall in love with the series to begin with. However, critical praise doesn't pay the bills, so it's understandable why Capcom would continue to deviate from the traditional Resident Evil formula until it eventually became a (terrible) competitive shooter. One can only hope that Resident Evil 7 winds up selling close to the same numbers as RE5/RE6, so as to prove to Capcom that what's old is new again.
There's no game that I can think of that Capcom could make that I would want more right now than a new Mega Man game in the style of Mega Man X. To me, that's when the series was at its peak, and unfortunately I've had to resort to games other than Mega Man, like the Azure Striker Gunvolt series, to scratch that itch.
From the bottom of my heart, I hope that Capcom takes the ball and runs with it. I'm truly rooting for them to make a gigantic comeback, and hope that Resident Evil 7's momentum propels them to future greatness.
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Thursday, February 23, 2017
|All aboard the hype train.|
With the impending launch of the Nintendo Switch, I figured now would be the time to rank Nintendo's home consoles. Despite the Switch being the home/portable hybrid that it is, I will primarily be playing it as a home gaming device--at least my intention--and that's why I'm ranking only the home consoles with this article.
As always, whenever I do a ranking-based writing, I feel the need to clarify that this is simply my opinion, and is based on my experiences with the consoles. Your experience was different than mine for each of these beautiful machines, so your level of love and affection will differ, so let's keep it clean.
6. Nintendo 64
Released: September 29th, 1996 (NA)
Favorite games: WCW/nWo Revenge, Goldeneye 007
Since becoming a collector, I've acquired most of the N64's more popular games, but I'll be completely honest, I'm not into those games as a lot of people are. Super Mario 64 is revolutionary, but I don't love that game. I think Ocarina of Time is just above average, and I just simply don't like Star Fox 64. I did enjoy Goldeneye 007's multiplayer mode, which outside of the aforementioned WCW/nWo Revenge was the game we spent the most time playing at birthday parties, but I was so terrible at it that I found myself becoming increasingly frustrated with each successive match.
|I spent a lot of time playing as this guy.|
If we can blame anyone for the loveless relationship I have with the Nintendo 64, it's Sony. I was so entrenched in the world of PlayStation that I didn't feel the need for any other consoles. This is where I found my now deep and abiding affection for series like Metal Gear Solid, Resident Evil, and Twisted Metal. The Sony PlayStation seemed like a much more adult console, and since I have an old brother who was approaching his teens at the time, he was adamant that the PlayStation was the way to go, and I followed.
5. Wii U
Released: November 18th, 2012 (US/CA)
Favorite games: Super Mario 3D World, Splatoon, Donkey Kong Country Tropical Freeze
For those of you who aren't familiar with this piece of hardware, let me fill you in. The Wii U was a videogame console created by Nintendo and released in 2012. To this day, many people are still unaware that the thing exists, and among those who are aware, a percentage of them don't know that it's different from the mega hit Wii console.
While that paragraph was written for humor, you'd be surprised how many people come into my store looking for Wii games, and when I ask "Wii or Wii U?" the confused patron asks "What's the Wii U?" That still happens to this day, and it's really a shame. The Wii U has some of my favorite games in recent memory and some of the best games for respective franchises. Super Mario 3D World is absolute incredible, Yoshi's Woolly World is the best game adorning the Yoshi name, Super Mario Maker gave me the ability to play and create a never ending number of Mario levels, and Splatoon is perhaps the best new IP of the generation across all consoles.
The off TV play was a great addition (though it's not something that I ever used), and laid the framework for what we'll be getting with the Nintendo Switch. It's a shame the Wii U floundered the way it did, but Nintendo really has no one to blame that on but themselves.
Released: November 18th, 2001 (NA)
Favorite games: Resident Evil 4, The Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker, Mario Kart Double Dash
Another console that I shunned in favor of a Sony system, this time with the PS2. The difference between the GameCube and N64 for me is that I actually spent a lot of time playing the GameCube in its prime. My buddy had one, and we were dating sisters at the time, so we had a lot of GameCube parties. I also played it to mentally escape the girl I was dating (I never said it was a good relationship).
I know this is going to sound like blasphemy, but I think all of Nintendo's franchises that had mediocre N64 titles had much better entries on the GameCube. I like Super Mario Sunshine more than Super Mario 64. I like Wind Waker more than Ocarina of Time and Majora's Mask. I like Mario Kart Double Dash more than Mario Kart 64. And even though I've never been high on Super Smash Bros., my friends sure were, and Melee to them is the be-all and end-all of fighting games.
Throw in some genuinely great third-party games like Eternal Darkness, Resident Evil 4 and REmake, an inferior but still solid upgrade of Metal Gear Solid, and couple those with Nintendo's new games like Luigi's Mansion, Metroid Prime, and solid sports titles in Super Mario Strikers and Mario Superstar Baseball, and you've got yourself a console that has a little bit for everyone.
Released: November 19th, 2006 (NA)
Favorite games: Super Mario Galaxy, Punch Out!!, Donkey Kong Country Returns
What's better than a GameCube? Two GameCubes duct taped together!
I don't care what anyone says, the Nintendo Wii is a fantastic system. There's a reason the thing sold over 100 million units, and it's not just because everyone's grandma bought it. 100 million Nintendo Wii systems, that's an insane amount of units sold. That's, like, three times the population of the entire planet (though I admit that fact checking is not my strong suit).
I bought one, you bought one, you probably know a guy that bought three and sold them all for twice as much as he paid. The thing was a phenomenon, and was still very difficult to find two years after its launch. These days we like to criticize the thing because of all the garbage games that wound up on it, but the system did have some truly great games. Super Mario Galaxy is my favorite game to come out this century, Twilight Princess was a top quality Zelda game (I know, it's not the "true version" of the game, please get over yourself), and many people swear by the Resident Evil 4 port as the best version of the game.
But let's not look past Wii Sports, the pack-in game. We can downplay it as nothing more than a tech demo, but I played a whole lot of that tech demo, and so did you. The motion control was such a cool thing, and while many companies tried to break that ground in the past, their results were sub par. Having motion control that worked just felt good. Was it perfect? No. Did I have to calibrate it every so often? Yes. But that's a minor annoyance. When you consider the ability to play Mario Kart and Super Smash Bros. online with friends--which I did a lot of--it only increases its value to me, despite the online not always being stable.
It's fun to take our shots at it now and try to discredit it as a viable gaming platform, and even though there's lots of third-party garbage on the system, there are a lot of really great third-party games as well, like Lost in Shadow, Dead Space Extraction, Muramasa, No More Heroes, Zack and Wiki, and many more. Looking back, I think the Wii deserves its place (as of right now) in the top half of Nintendo's consoles.
Released: October 1985 (NA)
Favorite Games: Super Mario Bros. 3, DuckTales, Castlevania
This was very hard for me. I will preface this entry by saying that the NES is my all-time favorite videogame console. It's the first system I ever owned (or played, for that matter), it's the system that began this love of videogames, and the thing owns my heart completely. That being said, I can't let it take the top spot for several reasons, which I'll comment on in the next entry, but for now, let me heap praise upon praise on this revolutionary machine.
There's a reason that I still get calls at work--every single day--asking if we have the NES Classic in stock. There's a reason why the thing is still hard to find (outside of Nintendo's lack of production). It's because the NES changed the world. That's not hyperbole. The NES was estimated to have been in 1 of every 3 homes in the United States at its peak. It's still Nintendo's second highest selling console, second only to the juggernaut that was the Wii. This console is the reason my grandmother--God rest her soul--called every videogame system "a Nintendo."
We all know that this was a very different time, and nothing in better evidence of that than the fact that we who were around for it still hold even bad games in high regard. Remember Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles? The one that confused every kid in America because the cover art depicted every turtle wearing their comic book red as opposed to the various colors we knew from the cartoon? That game is terrible. Screw the bomb diffusing section in particular, and I've still never gotten past level three. I hate that game. I love that game!
But the NES is also responsible for cementing many characters places in videogame history. Mario, Link, Mega Man, the Belmonts, Samus. The good games on the NES were more than just games to us. They were life-changing adventures. They were the topic of recess conversations. They laid the foundation of what we thought was possible in our own lives. Maybe we couldn't grow up to be a young elf boy slaying Ganon, but when we thought about The Legend of Zelda, we were inspired to conjure up new adventures in the backyards with our friends.
Very few things in this world have impacted my life as much as the NES has, and for that, I salute you, NES. God bless you. Now cue the National Anthem.
1. Super Nintendo
Released: August 23rd, 1991 (NA)
Favorite games: Super Mario World, TMNT IV: Turtles in Time, Ken Griffey Jr. Presents Major League Baseball
Every game that I loved on the NES, the SNES had a better sequel to. If you've read my writing for any length of time, you already know that Super Mario World is my favorite game of all-time, but we also got a better Legend of Zelda game, a better Contra game, better Mega Man games, better Castlevania games, better Kirby games, the best TMNT game ever, and the list continues on and on and on.
It also helped that the system actually worked when you turned it on.
The RPG really hit its stride with the Super Nintendo with the Final Fantasy sequels, Chrono Trigger, Earthbound, Secret of Mana, and again, the list just continues. The ports of games like Street Fighter II, Mortal Kombat II, Sunset Riders, and NBA Jam may not have looked as great as their arcade counterparts, and some concessions had to be made for them to be on the SNES in terms of gameplay, but as a kid, I didn't care or notice. They still played great, and many of my elementary school weekends were spent with an SNES controller in my hands, a pizza on the table, and my best friends on the couch beside me.
Even though the NES was my first console, the Super Nintendo is the one that makes me the most nostalgic for my childhood. Many of its titles I would consider some of my favorite games of all time. I already mentioned Super Mario World, but Turtles in Time is probably my favorite beat 'em up, and Ken Griffey Jr. Presents Major League Baseball is still, without question, my favorite sports game ever.
|The face of greatness.|
Many SNES games have aged beautifully, and now that I'm older and understand a little bit more about how videogames work, I'm able to appreciate them even more than I did as a young tyke. The Super Nintendo didn't perform as well as its predecessor due to the fact that it had a legitimate competitor in the Sega Genesis, and even though I still hold a bigger place in my heart for the NES, I can't deny that the Super Nintendo is the zenith of Nintendo's home console line.
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