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One-minute reviews

Unread postby icycalm » 28 Feb 2017 19:11

Everyone else can post theirs here too, and I might pick some to use on the frontpage (sometimes edited for length and/or content). Make sure to reference the version of the game you played in the parenthesis, along with the correct year in which that version was released. As for length, don't count words, but try to follow my example.


*** Livelock (2016, PC)
This is a sharp-looking sci-fi themed overhead shooter for up to three players in co-op mode that released with very lacklustre difficulty modes. The new Transcendent mode, however, fixes the problem with its lack of respawning and general increase in challenge, and the game shines when played with it and with a full team. All three characters available are unique and useful, and the first half of the game is a delight to play while figuring out the team's tactics in a variety of well-designed and challenging levels. Stat progression, however, stops for the last third of the game, due to a relatively low level cap, and stage design stagnates, and finishing the game becomes a chore beyond that. Still not many quality games in this genre that offer co-op, so worth playing with a full team on Transcendent (and remove a star from my rating for any other setup).


I might amend the review when we get to finishing the game with recoil and danjiro, but we are already quite close to the end and I don't see things changing appreciably in the few stages we have left, either for the better or for worse.
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Unread postby icycalm » 28 Feb 2017 19:31

** Helldivers (2015, PC)
This game annoyed the hell out of me because in screenshots it looked like a sweet arcade-style overhead shooter with 4-player co-op, while in fact being a dumbed-down quasi-diablolike with the worst level design ever in the genre (box-like arenas ad infinitum FTW), and the worst story ever (smarmy ironic pop culture referencing bullshit), and the worst campaign progression ever (no campaign to speak of: it's just a collection of disjointed levels that you can play in any order without the game even indicating to you which ones you've already played and/or finished). The combat mechanics are solid, however, and I liked the skill tree powers you activate with the d-pad and the JSR-inspired objective-completion mechanic, with your teammates guarding you while you furiously try to input the correct button sequence, so it's ok for a laugh for a few hours with a full team if you can get it on deep sale. A deep, deep sale, mind you.
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Unread postby icycalm » 28 Feb 2017 20:07

***** Planetary Annilation: Titans (2015, PC)
Ultimate version of the genre-defining RTS that adds tons of cool new units (including five wildly differentiated "experimental" super units a la SupCom), elevated terrain that was sorely missing from the original, and unit wreckage that was removed from the game for release because it was breaking pathfinding at the time (though I think the version that's been added is not as extreme as the one that was previously removed, which is a slight disappointment as I love massive wreckage that complicates the tactics). Simply put if you are not into this you are not into strategy — or you lack the mental cojones to deal with it in real-time. So stick to the turn-based stuff brah, while knitting a sweater or something between turns, I guess, and leave this 100-carat diamond of a game for the true supreme commanders.
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Unread postby icycalm » 28 Feb 2017 20:22

The reviews should be discussed in the games' individual threads, by the way. Just bump the thread in question (or make it, if it doesn't already exist) and quote the review in there (or the relevant part of it, if the review has already been quoted in full in the thread), and then respond to it in as much detail as you want. If the author doesn't seem to be responding, you can bump this thread with a link to your post, after a few days.
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Unread postby icycalm » 01 Mar 2017 07:20

** Astebreed (2014, PC)
I see where they were trying to go with this, I really do, and I have indeed never seen a 2.5D shooter that does so much with the 3D effects, panning and zooming around all over the place every five screens, and in the process turning the game from a hori STG to a vertical one to a Space Harrier-type deal to Senko no Ronde, and back again. But that means tackling four genres, instead of one, and the inexperienced devs here are not up to the task, failing terribly compared to the greats in each of these genres. On top of that, the game is quite aesthetically unappealing, despite the relatively high fidelity of the graphics, and the difficulty is non-existent for the couple of stages I played until I couldn't stand the glossy metallic sheen of every uninspired design in the game against a backdrop of brown mud and empty space. Avoid.

** Crimzon Clover (2011, PC)
Absurdly overhyped attempt at a sort of mixup of Cave aesthetics with Ikaruga mechanics that's so ugly it is depressing not only to play, but even to look at in screenshots — a far cry from the aesthetically immaculate games it tried to copy, which shows you how little the designer understood of what these games are all about. As if I could give a fuck about your mechanics or — worse still — your stupid scoring system, if I can't bear to look at your game at all! But even mechanically it sucks, since top play involves neither shooting nor dodging: the very essence of the shooting genre! And yes, Ikaruga was like this too, to an extent, but I am sorry Yotsubane — your game is not Ikaruga.
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Unread postby icycalm » 01 Mar 2017 08:02

** Chivalry: Medieval Warfare (2012, PC)
Amateurish melee-focused versus multiplayer game with no thought at all given to customizing the mechanics of the FPS model the developers obviously based their game on to the demands of close-quarters combat. The result is a chaos of wild sword-swinging and ineffective arrow-shooting, because this sort of combat simply doesn't work with the limited field-of-view available to first-person games without VR headsets. Couple that with the lack of a campaign and braindead lobby system in which player numbers between sides are rarely balanced, or where players can enter a battle after it has begun, or switch sides more or less at will, and you have a game that's only worth playing with friends for a few hours for laughs, merely for the novelty of the experience.
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Unread postby icycalm » 01 Mar 2017 09:28

I'd like to give an explanation of why I have decided to write a lot of mini-reviews from now on, and take a step back from in-depth reviewing: because the Videogame Art reviews are a million times more important than any conventional in-depth review I could ever write, and those require so much energy to be written that unless I focus my complete attention on them they never will be. I have written maybe a dozen of them in the ten or so years since I got the idea for the project, and that rate is simply unacceptable. AFTER I have written all of them, I will return to in-depth reviewing, but until then any effort expended in that direction is effort taken away from my goal of reviewing in depth all the most important games ever made: both the bad important ones and the good important ones, and we are talking about several hundred multipage reviews here, so it's not like you won't have any game analysis to read from me: we are talking a thousand pages easily, by the time this project is finished. Just ask yourselves whether you'd prefer to read an in-depth review of Yaiba: Ninja Gaiden Z from me, or one of Ninja Gaiden, and you'll see that my plan is a sound one. And besides, I'll also give you my opinion on the Z game once I am done with it, in a brief paragraph that I can churn out in five minutes with essentially no effort, so you'll get the best of both worlds in the end.
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Unread postby icycalm » 02 Mar 2017 05:42

**** Raiden IV (2007, AC)
A huge improvement over III; with Raiden IV Moss made a proper entry into the STG genre, and this remains one of the best high resolution shooters I have played, even after all these years. Great graphics and music, fantastic pacing and difficulty, and that elusive whiff of epicness that only an expert combination of all the above elements in correct proportions can create. All it is missing, aesthetically, is a tad more imaginative ship designs, and mechanically a tad more complexity; but these are issues the series has always had, and this is a faithful sequel. Play this to take a break from more modern and complex stuff, and to enjoy old mechanics with modern aesthetics on current hardware not properly set up to run the old stuff faithfully.
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Unread postby immersedreality » 02 Mar 2017 17:46

* Night in the Woods (2017, PS4)
I saw a couple screens from Night in the Woods a few years back, and it caught my eye because it reminded me of the classic anime film Ginga-tetsudô no yoru. I like surprises, so fast-forward to 2017 and I'm booting up the game not knowing a thing about it. Fifteen minutes later, I knew I wasted twenty bucks. The primary interactivity of the game lies in choosing which friend you want to hang out with every day. That's the entire game apart from some boring rhythm mini-game and a pathetic 'knife fight' sequence. The writing also tries way too hard to be quirky, and it gets obnoxious fast. There are no losing conditions, no tension, no immersion. I thought I was getting a platformer with some neat art; I got a side-scrolling knock-off of The Catcher In The Rye starring an androgynous cat.
Last edited by immersedreality on 03 Mar 2017 06:04, edited 2 times in total.
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Unread postby icycalm » 02 Mar 2017 21:52

Nice review, it's definitely going on the frontpage, though I will probably have to shorten it by a line or two. Try to be a bit more succinct, and to load your sentences heavily with meaning. You don't have the space here for the lengthy preamble you used for example. Try to see if you can convey the same meaning in fewer words. It definitely takes practice. If you can edit your review to cut out a line or two, do it at some point, otherwise I can fix it when the time comes for the frontpage update.

If you conclude that the preamble is central to your message, then cut some words from elsewhere. With the one-minute reviews you only have space to deliver one or two major points, and very little to no space for argumentation. So for example if a game is ugly I say the game is ugly without explaining why, unless its ugliness is its defining feature, in which case I shortchange other aspects of it in order to add a line explaining why it's ugly.

You'll get the hang of it if you keep trying, and you are already doing great.
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Unread postby immersedreality » 02 Mar 2017 23:01

Excellent feedback, thanks a ton. I had a feeling my preamble was a bit ambitious. I edited it down a bit to get to the meat more quickly.
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Unread postby Helios » 02 Mar 2017 23:24

All 2D metroidvanias.

* Alwa's Awakening (2017, PC)
This game begins with a message from that developers that they "poured their heart and soul" into it and it took two years to develop. It's kind of sad. I only played this for 20 minutes and the last five or so minutes were only out of pity and shock. The game recreates Famicom aesthetics nicely, anyone hoping the game actually plays like them would be deceived though. The level design is slow paced, boring, with lots of empty space and no pressure on the player. All the enemies I found just pace back and forth dying in one hit. Also the keys cannot be remapped and they thought "n" was a good attack button. The first item you find is a wand that spawns a green block used for block pushing puzzles. That's really the best they could think of? That's how they want to augment a character that only has one attack option? What few puzzles I did with it were the most cliched, stock, easy, block puzzles imaginable. The type of thing that real games put in at you when they are completely out of ideas. And that is what they did for their first fucking level! And not just one or two of these filler puzzles but like three of 'em in a row! Have these people ever played a videogame? Oh and the avatar you play as is dull and boring with a wimpy attack animation. Even if most of these problems were fixed the game would still get one star. Three words: save-state platformer.

** Shantae: Risky's Revenge (2014, PC)
There's no reason for this to be a metroidvania. They should have just thrown the dungeons on a level select screen and would have had a better game with less work. The overworld section is tedious and repetitious even during your first visit to each area and you will backtrack a lot to do fetch quests. There's very little to actually discover and the secrets that do exist are practically a check-list. It's obvious they are trying to pad out the game, since almost half the game is spent backtracking to do fetch quests. The game is also pretty much completely devoid of challenge and doesn't even have anything to give variety. Combat options are some of the worst in the genre, you're basically stuck with one attack and three generic subweapons. The upgrades are just glorified keys. The dungeons are forgettable. The sprite work is good which is why the game gets two stars. Avoid.

** Shantae and the Pirate's Curse (2015, PC)
It's better than Risky's revenge. The sprite work is significantly improved and the levels are pretty fun at times. There's still no reason to make it a metroidvania, there's still not enough content to justify it. The checklist item collecting is now a literal checklist and the item count is inflated with no added depth. If they just cut out all the bullshit fetch quests, the backtracking, the insane need to track down 50 mcguffins to open the last stage, all the other crap and made it a linear game it would be 3-star game. There's so much filler they actually put in a mandatory mini-game where you guess the outcome of a coin-flip. I really enjoyed the dungeons, especially the later that really make use of the multi-jump power up. The character upgrades and different attack options are actually fun even if there are't enough. The series still lacks challenge even if you are doing a no-item playthrough. Good for a few hours if you are starved for something in the genre. If you haven't played every Igavania or Metroid though don't waste your time.

** Rabi-Ribi (2016, PC)
Apart from the girls the selling point of this game is bullet-hell style patterns for boss fights in a platformer. There's a lot of these boss fights, like probably around 20+. The limited control of vertical movement in a platform doesn't lend itself well to these sorts of patterns and only only challenge you in one dimension. There's little variety in the bosses yet the game keeps throwing more and more at you. The game is fun until you get tired of them. Than you should uninstall, that's what I did. Also the characters attacks are entirely inappropriate for these boss fights. You have a pointless stamina meter for melee attacks, depleting it doesn't affect movement and being in melee range of bosses isn't dangerous so you just stand waiting for energy to restore. Annoying. The carrot bomb restores energy but it's too awkward to rely on. These boss fights are the only challenging or memorable part so once you stop enjoying them the game has nothing to offer. The enemies outside of stages often die from ranged shots before they can act and stages are basically straight lines. Most of the upgrades are found in the first quarter of the game and their uses are unremarkable. Almost all of the character development is done through currency which encourage grinding. Worst, currency drop is tied to a scoring system so the money earned from exploring is deplorable compared farming certain rooms. Aesthetics besides character design is uninteresting. When Erina does a combo attack the game zooms which forces you to look at ugly blown-up pixels.

*** Pharaoh Rebirth+ (2016, PC)
The sprite work is excellent and adorable. There's very little recycling of assets, each new zone is distinct and filled with new beautiful enemies and environments. Your bunny avatar uses his ears in all sorts of neat ways. He attacks by whipping enemies with them, can turn them into a sail to help him glide or have them transform into a chain to grapple onto nodes. The nice aesthetics help cover for having few mechanics. The levels are designed pretty tightly both in terms of enemy/platform layout and minimizing backtracking. Like most small team metroidvanias the game is short so there is very little in the way of collectables and you have a very small toy box of different attack options. The few secrets are at least hidden well. Since the game doesn't pad itself out though it's not much of a determent. A no healing-item playthrough, as I did, is essential if you want any challenge. Story is surprisingly good for the genre and got me hooked. I couldn't think of a moment where I wasn't enjoying myself. Charming at everything it does. Highly recommended for any fan of the genre.

**** Momodora: Reverie Under the Moonlight (2016, PC)
A little spoiler for you. If you defeat a boss without taking a single hit they will give you a new item or spell. The game is already challenging with likely deaths occurring even in the first zone. After barely beating a boss by the skin of your teeth, it's great that the game will tempt you to reset and do it better. You can't take many hits even if you use healing items and save points are far apart which makes planning out your exploring meaningful and rewarding. The game is also fairly open with four zones that can be tackled in any order and plenty of forks in the road. It's refreshing to play a metroidvania that doesn't railroad you. Basic combat already gives you both ranged and melee options neither of which overshadows the other. A higher number of melee attack options would have been nice. You have a roll move which you will need because the enemies are very aggressive. The sprite work is absolutely gorgeous, you'll want to stop moving once in a while just to take all the scenery in. The avatar sprite work is also really pleasant with all actions having a nice feeling of impact. A real gem. Let's hope for a sequel!
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Unread postby icycalm » 03 Mar 2017 00:02

Haven't read them yet but they are all way above the length limit, some of them twice as long. Also, I fixed your formatting, so pay attention to that next time. It shouldn't be hard to reproduce the formatting in my examples. (One space between the stars and the title, title line in bold, space after commas, etc. Also, stop adding spaces after the end of a review. Your post formatting in general is very sloppy. Let me know if you are dyslexic or something.)

If you want any of these to be considered for publication, you need to do some heavy editing. If you don't care about that, leave them as they are.
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Unread postby icycalm » 03 Mar 2017 00:11

"Highly recommended" on Insomnia means five stars, and yet you give Pharaoh Rebirth+ three. What sort of recommendation is that? Read the "How Good Exactly is Perfect" essay.

http://insomnia.ac/commentary/how_good_ ... s_perfect/

I wrote:***** Highly recommended
**** Recommended
*** Good, but has been done before, and much better
** Playable, but without much merit
* LOL


You don't seem to be taking this seriously enough, or you are not capable of taking it seriously enough. You see me critique the length in immersedreality's review, but you don't give a shit about that.
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Unread postby icycalm » 03 Mar 2017 00:17

Helios wrote:There's very little to actually discovery and the secrets that do exist or practically a check-list.


Try to correct this horrible attempt at a sentence. Make a new post only with this sentence and try to correct it. I want to see if you are dyslexic or just stupid.

And that's just in terms of grammar, because the sentence will still not make sense after it's been grammatically corrected.

I don't think your reviews are a good match for Insomnia. If I have to fix retarded shit like that every other line I might as well write the reviews myself, not to speak of whether an English-speaking person who can't write in decent English would be capable of insightful critique. Merely the fact that you play so many metroidvanias is a huge red flag on that account.
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Unread postby Helios » 03 Mar 2017 10:24

icycalm wrote:
Helios wrote:There's very little to actually discovery and the secrets that do exist or practically a check-list.


icycalm wrote:Try to correct this horrible attempt at a sentence. Make a new post only with this sentence and try to correct it. I want to see if you are dyslexic or just stupid.


Holy shit. That is horrible.

There's very little to actually discover and the secrets that do exist are practically a check-list.

icycalm wrote:"Highly recommended" on Insomnia means five stars, and yet you give Pharaoh Rebirth+ three. What sort of recommendation is that? Read the "How Good Exactly is Perfect" essay.


I've read that and understand the rating system. I just sucked at conveying my message. What I meant to convey is that it's extremely good for a 3-star game. It excels at everything it attempts, but the standards for the genre nowadays just ask for more exploration and combat options than the game is willing to attempt. That's why I said it is highly recommended "for any fan of the genre", and not highly recommended in a broad sense. Someone that is a fan of the genre would really love the polished experience and overlook its shortcomings. Someone that only likes the genre in passing (not a fan) wouldn't think much of it. These shortcomings exist in all the games I reviewed but Momodora has the least of them and offers a real challenge, that's why it gets 4 stars. The other games not only are unambitious but aren't even polished in the basic aspects they do attempt, that's why they get below 3 stars.

icycalm wrote:You don't seem to be taking this seriously enough, or you are not capable of taking it seriously enough.


Between the two it would definitely be the second. I've read a lot of your criticism for other people's reviews and I missed a bunch of obvious stuff. I also proofread that stuff multiple times before I posted it. I'll edit the reviews for clarity and length.

icycalm wrote:Merely the fact that you play so many metroidvanias is a huge red flag on that account.


I looked through the 2D metroidvania on Steam for my own needs. These games I reviewed by the way represent everything in the genre I've played since Order of Ecclesia. I'm trying to recommend games I thought were good and give warnings against things that looked promising but are disappointing. Since I have played every Metroid and Igavnia I can judge them well. You have to love a genre to review its games well right?
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Unread postby icycalm » 03 Mar 2017 10:40

Learn the difference between "its" and "it's". Right now. Google it. Then edit all your posts to fix it. Also, if I see you post "2d" again I will ban you. It's 2D. I've already fixed it in one of your posts and I won't spend my life following you around the forum and fixing it for you. So fix it right now. As for your Igavania comment, you could have played every title in the genre and still be a shithead who can't compose a decent sentence or think a straight thought. (And if you've played every title in that shitty genre you probably are a shithead.)

I am tired of explaining every little thing to do you, dude. That is not the purpose of this thread. So start another thread titled "Helios's one-minute reviews" and post as many as you want in there, as long as you manage to adhere to the rules of decent grammar. I won't bother checking them for content because it would take far too much effort. I still have no idea what that sentence of yours that you corrected means, and that's only one of five sentences of yours I read.

Everyone else keep using this thread unless I instruct you to start your own. And Helios, make sure that before you start the new thread you have edited your posts above as I have instructed you. Not for length -- don't bother with that now -- but for all the other things.
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Unread postby zinger » 03 Mar 2017 11:08

* Bad Omen (1992, MD)
Bad Game! The soundtrack is incredible and the intro (which tells the story) is hilarious: "'Y' turned the prince and the princess into 2 stone paddles. Suddenly, a mysterious blue sphere fell from the sky." But obviously: paddle game = instant fail. I mean in the age of bitmap graphics, and when the game has a fantasy setting, why give us stone paddles instead of something cool like... I don't know, knights and throwing axes? The unusual STG-esque approach of having the stages scroll upwards and sideways doesn't help, neither does the super-bizarre dual-paddle system, and certainly not the fact that the ball physics feel all off. Watch the intro, get the soundtrack, but otherwise: stay away!
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Unread postby icycalm » 03 Mar 2017 11:15

The Igavanias are worth 3/5, by the way. The "indie" ones are worth 2/5 AT BEST, i.e. the worst Igavania is 10 times better than the very best of the best "indie" one. You are the kind of person who LOVES this dreck, and goes as far as to hunt down amateur efforts that look like shit, but would write entire essays about "the swamp level" in Far Cry and how he hates that game. And lo and behold, your grammar is shit, your attention span zero, and your reviewing attempts rambling and boring. Pharaoh Rebirth+ looks like utter shite, but for you its spritework is "excellent and adorable". You begin the Momodora one-minute review by giving the reader a hint that doesn't even belong in a full review. Etc. etc.

I am just waiting for zinger to make the post he has been writing since yesterday to get the thread back on track. I can't stand all this ugliness. Ugliness in the games you play, ugliness in your reviews, ugliness in your shitty writing.
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Unread postby icycalm » 03 Mar 2017 11:15

Oops, he posted. Good to have you back zinger. Thanks for getting the thread back on track.
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Unread postby icycalm » 03 Mar 2017 11:22

And zinger, do you really think the generic bleeps and blops of the Bad Omen soundtrack are "incredible"? What would you call the Planetary Annihilation soundtrack then? Or real music?
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Unread postby icycalm » 03 Mar 2017 11:23

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=46-mGN1D9z8

I listened to the first minute-and-a-half. Tell me if I missed the good stuff.
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Unread postby zinger » 03 Mar 2017 11:29

I'm working on several different reviews at the same time, and I want to get them perfect, so that's what's taking time.
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Unread postby zinger » 03 Mar 2017 11:32

icycalm wrote:I listened to the first minute-and-a-half. Tell me if I missed the good stuff.


Keep listening! Stage 1 song starts around 1:40!
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Unread postby icycalm » 03 Mar 2017 11:37

I listened for another 2-3 minutes. Maybe it sounds decent-ish in the game, but outside of it is unlistenable. It sounds terrible outside the game. And even in the game, there is no way it sounds "incredible".

We need to do something about your music critique. We can't be telling people that stuff like the Bad Omen OST is "incredible" and to send them off to hunt them down. It's a giant waste of the reader's time, and it reflects very badly on the site. I remember from before that your taste in music is bad, which is strange considering your own music is pretty good, from what I remember. What can we do about this? Either you'll have to stop discussing music, or try to raise your standards while I personally investigate every soundtrack on which you make a remark to ensure you know what you are talking about. In this case, even changing "incredible" to "decent" would be pointless, since most games have a decent soundtrack. The music in this game seems entirely unexceptional and unworthy of comment, and the part where you tell the reader to go look for the OST should be removed completely. There is no way I can feature such advice on the site.
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