The comp.sys.sinclair crap games competition 2015 -

it's crap! In a funky skillo sort of a way.

Month: May 2015

Wizzard

There are many things you can do in under thirty seconds. Here’s a few of them, interspersed with screenshots from unclechicken’s latest game, Wizzard…

1. Listen to the Napalm Death song, You Suffer, fifteen times.

Roy Wood has really let himself go, hasn't he?

Roy Wood has really let himself go, hasn’t he?

 

2. Run 100 metres, three times. If you’re Usain Bolt.

Wizzard2

Spoiler: the letter “t” doesn’t actually do anything, presumably because your wife isn’t listening.

 

3. Google “things you can do in under 30 seconds”, and decide they’re all a bit crap.

The Wizzard goes off on his epic quest to find his lost love...

The Wizzard embarks on his epic quest to find his lost love…

 

4. Play unclechicken’s latest game, Wizzard.

...oh, there she is.

…oh, there she is. Those pointy things in the background are either the pyramids of Giza, or The Point, Milton Keynes.

 

5. Write a CSSCGC review about unclechicken’s latest game, Wizzard.

Whaaaaaat?! That’s the whole review? I hear you cry. Well, back in the early 00s you’d be lucky to get a paragraph or even a sentence. One of my entries’ reviews consisted of three words – “Argh! My ears” – which was probably more than it deserved, but still poor compensation for the sweat and toil I’d put into the game. So think yourselves lucky I’ve got to 200 words already!

Score: 1 zeptosecond out of 100 aeons.

Download here.

Total Clint

MatGubbins returns with the last Keyword Challenge entry for now (although apparently he has about 70 more ideas waiting in the wings), based around maths – yes, you heard me correctly. It’s reminiscent of all those dull-as-ditchwater educational games your parents used to buy at Christmas “to help with your homework“, which you loaded up precisely once to keep Mum happy, before going back to more exciting stuff like Captain Kill-O-Zap Blasts The Aliens or something. I was a bit of a geek at school and quite liked maths, but once we were allowed to use calculators and spent whole lessons typing in 81980085 there wasn’t much point in learning how to do long division, and I only lasted a year in A-level maths before ditching it for a far more useful subject – sociology. Stop laughing.

Bak to skool!

Bak to skool!

The usual Chunk-O-Vision (can’t remember the code for the trademark symbol) title appears. It’s 1986, Clint’s back at school, and he’s been singled out by the teacher to solve some maths problems. Don’t you hate it when that happens? You sit there at the back of the class, trying to look as inconspicuous as possible without staring out of the window too much, sending subliminal messages to the teacher: “Don’t pick me, pick Gary!” It never worked though. Now I always thought “sums” meant addition, but there’s also some division and multiplication thrown in, which made my brain go into meltdown…

TotalClint3

231, Shirley?

Mat has devised a cunning way to input the number. Rather than simply typing it, you use the Q and A keys for up and down, you start with the lowest number (units), then press Space to move on to the tens, and so on. This all reminds me of the SMP – Scottish Maths Project – which I seem to remember placed great emphasis on thousands, hundreds, tens and units, and for some unearthly reason was forced upon the children of Bedfordshire in the early ’80s, despite Bedfordshire being closer to Belgium and France than Scotland (citation needed). This also means that there’s no way of starting again if you get it wrong… and I had lots of practice at getting it wrong.

So many ways to be wrong, but only one to be right.

Haaa-haaa! – W. Shakespeare, 1982

One redeeming feature is the rather fetching (and not remotely Chunk-O-Vision) Miss Natalie Red – if she’s based on one of Mat’s teachers from thirty-odd years ago, then all I have to say is lucky old Mat. My maths teacher in 1986 was 57 years old, completely bald, and had a luxuriant handlebar moustache. I think she’s retired now though.

To be fair, this is all very well programmed (I think there may even be some machine code involved) and it did make me use my brain, feeble though it may be. But just like those educational games from back in the day, I don’t think I could ever bring myself to play this again. Now where did I put my copy of Captain Kill-O-Zap Blasts The Aliens?

Score: 2112÷33 percent.

Download here.

BEEF II

The only chicken-based relative I’m aware of is Knife from Knife and Wife. Oh, and there’s Mr Chicken of course, who may or may not be related to unclechicken, although I strongly suspect Mr Chicken would cook unclechicken and put him in a burger were he forced to play BEEF II, and not purely because as a chicken merchant he would be unhappy to play a game where the player’s character’s name is based on his arch-nemesis food product.

Commander Beef reporting for duty, sir!

Commander Beef reporting for duty, sir!

After a brief departure into playability and sensible keyboard controls for BEEF!, unclechicken has regained at least some of his lost sanity for the sequel, which picks up a few minutes after the first game left off.

Upon loading, the author’s now trademark “custom font with slightly ambiguous plot” title screen appears, and pressing a key gets you straight into the heart of the action… at which point you’ll die trying to figure out how to use the key controls even a masochist would write a letter of complaint about.

This is the only splash of colour you'll see - the game is entirely "black & white TV compatible".

This is the only splash of colour you’ll see – the game is entirely “black & white TV compatible”.

It’s a sideways scrolling shooter, like R-Type, although actually nothing like R-Type which I’ve done a disservice to by even mentioning it in the same sentence. Instead I will compare it to my fifteen-year-old effort Mothership One, which I can’t be arsed to load back up, but my memory tells me was appalling (although technically it wasn’t a *scrolling* shoot-’em-up), and at least I remember it unlike a lot of the CSSCGC entries I’ve apparently submitted over the years.

The aliens have cunningly disguised themselves as priceless ming vases.

The aliens have cunningly disguised themselves as priceless ming vases.

Sooo… you know the drill with these games. You get a puny pea-shooter with a spaceship attached to it and are expected to take down wave after wave of ships sent by an alien civilisation whose economy and defence budget isn’t in the toilet like ours (note to potential invading nations: our army is the best in the world, don’t even think about it). And the reason you’re attacking them? Well, usually it appears to be just for the hell of it, something to do on a Sunday afternoon:
“What shall we do Tarquin?”
“Let’s borrow Daddy’s spaceship and take down some Jerrys*, Elizabeth, and then celebrate with tea and scones.”
“Oh, Tarquin! Mother will be most proud if we get our photograph on the front page of the Biggleswade Chronicle! We must set off at once!”

(etc.)

The particle effects are pretty good.

The particle effects are pretty good.

In this game, however, you’re being chased by the aliens who hate you, because leaving the planet in BEEF! cheesed them off, and they’ve clearly sent for reinforcements, as they all appear in front of your ship rather than shooting from behind. Other than that, it’s business as usual – identical attack wave after identical attack wave of enemy ships who can kill you just by being vaguely in the vicinity of your ship (and bizarrely appear to have no guns, so they just kamikaze into you), but if you try to shoot at them you discover there’s about a three second delay between pressing fire and actually seeing any, erm, fire. Couple that with the insane finger gymnastics and you’re going to fly straight into them anyway. And, just as in Mrs Pickford, you don’t get a chance to see your score before you are rudely thrown back to the title screen, and then back into the game and then shot at or flown into or crashed and back to the title screen, and those aliens are getting on your wick now and you don’t remember what it was that made them hate you but it probably has something to do with chickens not getting on with cattle, and they’re going to hate you even more once you manage to get your fingers in the right place to both control the spaceship and shoot at them, and maybe it’ll be easier if you get Jeeves in here to hold down the shooty thing whilst you concentrate on not flying into the alien coming right at you and…. Elizabeth, dear sister, is that a gentleman from the press at the door?

There's another wave after this then you're done.

There’s another wave after this then you’re done.

Score: One cucumber sandwich short of a picnic basket full of cucumber sandwiches. (that’s not really a score, more a psychiatric assessment – Ed)

Download: .tzx

* or whatever the correct colloquial term for aliens is

BEEF!

Unclechicken (who may or may not be both an uncle and a chicken, but his real name is Jonathan, so I’m going to call him that from now on) is back with yet another flagrant abuse of AGD in BEEF! Now with a title like that, I was expecting this to be a game in which you stick your hand up a cow’s arse (Are you sure? Ed.), pull out a baby cow, force feed it until it’s nice and fat, kill it, and eat it for Sunday dinner. The perfect game for me, as I’m a vegetarian. I’ll just leave a space below for the awkward silence and silly questions that always follow this statement.

 

 

(So do you eat fish? Ed.)

 

 

(Are you allowed to eat normal bread? Ed.)

 

 

(What, not even bacon?! Ed.)

Looks more like a spaceship to me.

Looks more like a spaceship to me.

Beef it turns out has nothing to do with dead cows and everything to do with spaceships. Commander Beef (it’s not explained why his name is Beef) has crashed on some planet or other and needs to escape. “Avoid the enemies, they hate you” says the title screen. D’you know what, in 35 years of avoiding (virtual) enemies I’ve never once stopped to wonder why they hate me. Perhaps they don’t like my haircut, or my glasses, or something.

Unclejonathanchicken immediately wins some crap points for the misleading loading screen. I was expecting a shoot-em-up, but no, it’s the first platform game of the competition! Hurrah!

Almost too good for the CGC. Almost.

Almost too good for the CGC. Almost.

What have we here? A custom font, some half-recognisable graphics, and an actual playable game, that’s what. The eponymous spacesuited hero Commander Beef wanders around the screens collecting money, avoiding the enemies (they hate you) and collecting a tool spanner (F’nar! Ed.) so he can get away. And the game isn’t half bad – after a couple of minutes I was even starting to enjoy myself. I can only assume this is an unwanted side effect of AGD or whatever Unclechickathan used to write the game.

Beef4

I’m sure I’ve seen this before

However, the game does have one or two flaws. When you die, you’re dumped onto another screen seemingly at random. And it’s far too small, only seven screens or so, and pretty easy to complete. But its biggest flaw is these flaws aren’t, erm, flawy enough to make an average platformer into a truly crap game. In short, Unclechickajon needs to try much harder to write a crap game next time… but fear not, I hear a sequel to BEEF is in the pipeline! Can’t wait!

Score: 1984%

Download here.

Fracas

As the BBC are still toying with a replacement Top Gear line-up* it’s been over two months since the original bust-up on which this game is based and nearly a month since Sqij Tower’s finest; Chris Young actually submitted it.

The game begins with an Unsatisfactory logo followed by the proud exclamation; “presented in Chunk-o-vision… a trademark of MatGubbins, used under license.” Tricia from Accounts tells me that MatG’s cheque is in the post, however, can I ask that he lets us know before he cashes it as we’ll be a bit short this month after leespoons took ‘advantage’ of completely inappropriate web-marketing opportunity.

* My money is on Coleen Nolan, Janet Street-Porter and Jamelia from Loose Women.

Offensive? Oo-eck!

Title screen

 

Back in 1985 Pete Moreland (then still at Beyond Software) bet Mike Singleton that he couldn’t get the Speccy to move around screen-sized sprites convincingly. Two years later Dark Sceptre was published, at least one Sinclair mag reviewer was rushed to hospital with palpitations and Commodore briefly considered recalling early Amiga 500 models in order to completely overhaul the graphics chip.

A few years later and Pit Fighter, followed by the even more commercially successful Mortal Kombat, popularised the use of poorly digitized sprites in arcade fighting games. In fact, when the home computer ports appeared, CU Amiga’s John Sloan nearly wet himself after seeing Sonya Blade’s pixelated bouncing bits!

So, as you can imagine, when this entry appeared in the Sqij inbox featuring poorly-digitized-full-screen sprites I went stark raving mad and had to go into therapy for several weeks – hence the delay in this review (Clever – Ed.)

Croeso i Gymru

Welcome to Wales

 

The screen fills with multi-coloured Chunk-o-vision™®©(pat. pending) blocks which, it turns out, are meant to represent Wales. I’m guessing it’s South Wales specifically because I’m originally from the North and it’s pretty much shades of brown and grey up there!?

A positively monolithic Jeremy (or is it Ian ‘Lovejoy’ McShane?) introduces the scene causing a perfectly measured quantity of offence finished off with a topical quip.

As the game-proper begins we find ourselves (for we play as Clarkson) on the left about to face off against an oddly orange and pink member of the production team. Disappointingly there’s no verbal exchange between the two before the ‘fight’ breaks out.

The keys are O, P and Space**, but you’d best hold them down (or turn up your emu speed) because the price we pay for such large sprites is that things move pretty sluggishly.

** O and P do what you’d expect and Space initiates the one and only fighting move in the game – a sort of lazy prod to the opponent’s abdomen.

Punch Out!

Jeremy gets one in

 

Much like my own UDG Fighterz effort, as long as you get the first punch in, you can pretty much get away with holding down the Space key until your opponent is KO’d – resulting in some hot FLASH action and a verbal warning!

We also get to visit Italy (featuring a vaguely recognizable Tower of Pisa, no less!) and then Canada before, inevitably, Mr C gets his marching orders from Sally in HR…

Victory in Wales!

Victory in Wales!

 

Now I don’t mean to brag, however, I completed this one-handed on my first go whilst drinking a cup of tea. (Okay, okay, form a queue and I’ll sign autographs at the end.)

Curious as to whether it was even possible to lose I tried to experiment (slowly) by walking into my opponent (and not attacking,) and edging back from him one step at a time in an effort to make him feel comfortable enough to put a jab in.

Occasionally he would land a punch, however, if I have one criticism of this game it’s that I’m not even sure the producer is up for this fight? In the end I had to stand there, motionless, for nearly 5 minutes before he finally put in enough hits to floor me. What a wuss!

Oinsin's Revenge

Lost in Italy!?

 

I would have liked a BEEPER rendition of the Top Gear theme and a food-themed Pirate Insult-esque mini game prior to each bout to set the scene – but I’m just greedy.

I don’t think there’s any denying that Mat Gubbin’s Chunkels™ are gathered together in an altogether more attractive manner***, but for sheer ambition I think Chris has done us proud on this one.

*** Translation: He does prettier pictures

 

Score: More Kelly Clarkson, than Jeremy!

Download .tap here.

Guess My Wait

“Whispering” Bob Harris is a DJ on Radio Two who plays folk music. I spent the first 10 years of my life listening to folk music, and I bloody hated every second of it. I think that’s why at the age of 13 I rebelled and got into house, hip hop and Bros (although at least I didn’t actually buy the Bros album, just borrowed it off my mate, honest). With the benefit of hindsight I will concede that folk music isn’t actually all that bad, in fact I like quite a lot of it, apart from Mumford and Sons, who are (in my humble opinion, and I’m sure they’re really nice people once you get to know them) crap. Anyway, Bob Harris started his radio career in 1970 presenting a programme called Sounds Of The Seventies, but it was axed in 1975, because nobody thought the Seventies would catch on. He then became a presenter on The Old Grey Whistle Test, in which he was the chief tester of old grey whistles. After that, Bob became a creepy Australian didge-fiddler (That’s Rolf! Ed.), a ventriloquist with his fist up a duck’s bottom who sadly died recently (That’s Keith! Ed.)  and an American actor who played Jackson Pollock (That’s Ed! Ed.) before the Radio Two folk show and now the pinnacle of his career – writing this crap game for the CSSCGC 2015.

Right, now I’ve padded out the review with a “ha ha, this bloke’s got the same name as someone famous” bit (see also sunteam), here’s the game. Guess My Wait – do you see what he did there? – is a guessing game. The computer waits for a bit, and you have to guess how long it waits for.

GuessWait1

Mmmmmm, currants. Might try them in my French biscuits next time I run out of raisons.

It’s a bit like Watching Paint Dry, but even more boring and crap, which is what we like here at Sqij Towers. Pick a number from 1 to 120 and find out if you’ve guessed correctly. As a bonus, you get a BEEP every time the computer waits. Somehow Bob has managed to find a BEEP that gets more and more dirge-like the longer it goes on… and bugger me, it doesn’t half go on.

GuessWait2

If I was any more excited I think I’d wet my pants in two different ways.

As with Watching Paint Dry the joke soon wears thin, particularly as yet again no RANDOMIZE function has been employed, so the sequence of numbers is the same whenever you load the snapshot. On the other hand, it’s marginally more interesting than waiting for actual real life things… like buses, sex, or the latest CSSCGC review to be finished (or all three at the same time, if you’re really lucky! Ed.)

Score: 119 annoying dirgey BEEPs out of 120.

Download .z80 here.

Come Come, Mrs Pickford. Its Only A Vegetable.

So… it’s Bank Holiday weekend, Sunday afternoon and I’m at a loose end already. I could write some crap games to annoy Lee with, but I don’t have any inspiration for that sort of thing at the moment. I could help Lee out and review one of the games on the pile. Preferably the one at the top, as if I remove the one that has been sitting there longest it’ll knock the whole lot over, just like those giant pyramids of baked beans you don’t see in supermarkets and probably never existed except in cartoons and adverts, and maybe Supermarket Sweep with Dale Winton.

Or I could take a leaf out of Mrs Pickford’s book and do a spot of gardening. I hate gardening.

Mrs Pickford goes down the market.

Mrs Pickford goes down the market.

I decided to see what Mrs Pickford was up to. She’s been out in the garden all day but I think I spotted the nasty garden shite fairy, so I should probably w…. hold on, is that a CUSTOM FONT????!

Yes, unclechicken (not Uncle Chicken, never that) is showing a dangerous amount of technical competence with his entry “Come Come, Mrs Pickford, Its (sic) Only A Vegetable”. The loading screen itself is a well-rendered colourful menagerie of vegetables, with the bottom screen area curiously left out.

Thankfully the plot is minimal, at best, and the controls are ridiculous.

This game employs the sociopath's favourite keyboard controls.

This game employs the sociopath’s favourite keyboard controls.

You play Mrs Pickford and need to avoid the stuff the NGS Fairy has sent to kill you. I assume this is the fairy equivalent of a gladiatorial contest, Mrs Pickford merely being used for entertainment rather than a personal vendetta. But maybe there is some deep-seated rivalry, and in the sequel unclechicken will flesh out the NGS Fairy’s backstory and we discover that she used to be Mrs Pickford’s guardian angel until Mrs Pickford did something unimaginable.

Anyway, I digress.

So, there’s a steaming pile of dog shite (and that’s just the game), a lawnmower (or is it a pram?), a smiley face(??) and something that could be an unexploded WW2 bomb, a carrot or a molotov cocktail. Either way, I’d suggest to avoid it. You don’t mess with carrots.

I'm going to put a sheet over this screenshot, and you have to name the objects... actually, let's not bother with the sheet.

I’m going to put a sheet over this screenshot, and you have to name the objects… actually, let’s not bother with the sheet.

Everything moves very very quickly. So quickly, in fact, that I wasn’t sure this was written in BASIC. It isn’t. Beyond the instruction screen, it’s just over 7K of pure machine code. As I said, unclechicken is displaying an extraordinary amount of technical competence. However, he has harnessed the machine code for the power of good, and managed to make the game even more unplayable than it would have been in BASIC. If you can survive for more than five seconds you’re doing well.

When you die you’re sent straight back to the title screen and invariably back into the action because you’re still holding down 8 or 6 or whatever key moves you AWAY from the freaky grinning bodyless face, so you have no idea what score you attained but you are sure you can last for six-and-a-half seconds this time, then the lawnmower runs you over and you’re still not sure whether that’s a vegetable or something the Germans sent over during the war, or maybe it’s that vase of flowers Mr Pickford bought you on Thursday, and it’s getting dark and you’re not sure how long you’ve been running but you think you might have missed Poldark, or did that finish last week, and if you ever see that fairy again she’s going to get acquainted with the underside of your boot.

Score: Ten steaming piles of dog shite out of ten.
Download: .tzx (128K Spectrum only)

Paint The Line Red

Paint the Line Red” is (we at Sqij Towers are really hoping!) the last entry into the 10 character competition.  I’m actually quite impressed by the title as I couldn’t work out how MatGubbins actually did it (‘the’ and ‘red’ are written out in full leaving only 4 chars left).

So after the brief diversion of MatGubbins last entry, we return to the tried and tested Gubbins game style and quality.  Lovely artwork on the opening title screen as per usual but nothing particularly new.

Paint The Line Red - Opening Title

Title Screen

Two keys – I can manage that (just) – for Left and Right controls.  At this point, I had in mind one of those games where you had to walk around the rectangles and paint the squares but two keys is two too few.

Instead, we’ve got ourselves a ‘Horace Goes Skiing‘ type affair…

Paint The Line Red - Start of Game

Ooh, Chunk-O-Crowd™?

This game is pretty playable although keyboard responsiveness is a bit poor on account that this is a game written in BASIC, requires full screen scrolling, a delay between the scroll and redrawing of your red line and the use of a sadly lacking INKEY$ in the middle of it all.  Pretty hard stuff when you come to those tricky spots where holes appear in the course – they can be pretty tricky to navigate.  At every 50 steps a chequered line is passed which helps towards your sense of achievement, however no bonus appears to be given for passing one. Still, I did manage to score 115 and for once the high score is shown and retained on the title screen.

Paint The Line Red - End of Game

Darn those non-bright attribute squares!

Personally, I think this game is a more polished version of Bobsleigh from The Spectrum Book of Games although I wouldn’t have fancied typing in all of that Chunk-O-Crowd stuff from a book.  That would’ve have been a bloody nightmare!

Score: 80% (would’ve given 82.5% if it was a BLUE line!)

Download: Paint The Line Red.tap

PRINTs LINEd PAPER

Hello Crapsters!  Missed me?  No? Oh well… on to the review.

Next one sitting inconspicuously at the bottom of the crap game pile is another one (yawn!) from the now legendary MatGubbins.  With a notable departure from Mat’s usual Clint/cat fetish releases, this one is very minimal.  Even the featured Chunk-O-Vision™ is “black and white” only…

prints-lined-paper-titleAnd there is a reason for that I suppose – the clue is in the title.
So what does it do? DON’T LOOK AT THE SCREENSHOT YET!!! – IT’LL GIVE IT AWAY!  Oh too late!

After dusting off the ZX Printer...

After dusting off the ZX Printer…

Yes, it basically allows you to print pages and pages of lined paper on your trusty ZX Spectrum.  I assume this software is aimed at the 80s school kid for writing out 50 lines of “I must do my homework instead of playing on my Spectrum all night“.  I can however think of much cheaper ways of procuring such stationary.  I mean, who would want to write on silver ZX Paper?  The spacing between lines is far too small for god’s sake!  In fact, I’ve got a good mind to actually brush off my ZX Printer, plug it in and run this software just to show you how crap the output is – except for the fact that my one and only ZX Printer doesn’t work quite right and actually massively overspaces the line feeds anyway, thus nullifying my argument!

Oh, and if you think this program qualifies for the 10 character compo, this again, only 7 characters were actually used in the Program: title!

Score: On the lines of 22!

Download here: PrintsLinedPaper.tap

Jeremy Clarkson’s Punch A Top Gear Producer Simulator

Never let it be said we don’t have our collective finger on the pulse here at Sqij Towers. Only seven weeks since the Punchygate incident and two-and-a-half weeks since Andrew Green sent in this highly topical game, and here’s the review!

Unlike Dave R-Tape and his “Geff Capes”, Andrew doesn’t pussyfoot around – this really is Jeremy Clarkson. Look!

Jezza1

The effect is better if you stand on the other side of the room and take your glasses off, but that’s definitely the best Chunk-O-Vision rendition of Jeremy Clarkson I’ve seen all day! And as if that wasn’t enough, there’s a short beepy rendition of the Top Gear theme (a.k.a. Jessica by the Allman Brothers) which contains more bum notes than, erm, a load of five pound notes with butt-cheeks drawn on them. (Nice anal-ogy! Ed.)

If only the game was as enjoyable. You are Jeremy Clarkson, and you’re hungry and angry – hangry in fact – because some selfish producer hasn’t managed to rustle up the half a cow’s arse in between two bread vans you ordered for lunch. There’s only one way to settle this – act like a spoilt three-year-old and punch them in the face. The producer is sensibly cowering over the other side of the screen, but luckily you’re armed with one of those boxing gloves on an extendable arm you’ve only ever seen in cartoons. All you need to do is whack him in the head and you’ve won – perhaps if you hit him hard enough you can have produceur a l’orange for dinner.

Jezza2

This started out as an enjoyable BASIC game – I particularly liked the oversized Clarkson head graphic – but it’s actually quite tricky, as the producer has the astounding ability to teleport up and down at will. Punching him in the legs has no effect either, and when I first played the game I couldn’t land a single blow to the head, making me wonder if it was possible to complete it at all. However I kept going for a full minute, and finally felt the immense satisfaction of socking some poor sod in the face for no good reason apart from the size of my ego/bank balance/willy (delete as appropriate).

I could get used to this! *clicks fingers* Oi, Chris*! Fetch me my dinner NOW!

Score: 376 inaccurate punches out of 377.

Download .z80 here.

*either of the Sqij Towers Chrises will do. Or Myke. Not sure about deKay though, the last time he made me a cup of tea the milk tasted a bit off…

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