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Guest Post: Andy Robertson

Video games are often about playing the hero who saves the day. There’s nothing like scoring that winning goal in Rocket League or saving civilization from destruction in Call of Duty. 

However, my kids seem to enjoy them for a different reason. They love playing the bad guy. It’s something we were talking about over dinner when I started to realize just how many games let you do this.

Then, as well as the games where you have a choice to be good or bad there are those designed with the sole intention of you making other people’s lives a living hell. By the end of the meal I had half a dozen of these games scribbled on an envelope, so I thought I’d share them for you here. If you want the full list I pulled it together on the Family Video Game Database I run.

Sneaky Sasquatch – is an adventure game where you sneak around campsites and try to find food from coolers and picnic baskets without getting caught. There’s an ever-increasing list of things you can do and most of them focus on causing havok. The game even has a day-night cycle so you can go on night raids. It’s brilliant.

Rain On Your Parade is an upcoming game for Switch and PC where you quite literally have to rain on people’s happy days. “You are a cloud jerk,” says the trailer and that pretty much sums it up. As you travel across the world you unlock more methods of causing bedlam. Use thunder and lightning to scare people out of hiding and set things alight, tornados to suck up everything that gets in its path, rain explosive material that you can blow up and even entire meteors and much more.

Untitled Goose Game is perhaps the most famous bad-guy-game of recent years. You make your way around a small village terrorizing the locals. But this isn’t about blowing them up, it’s something much worse. Hiding their keys, stealing their toys, and generally getting under their skin. It’s dastardly in a brilliant way.

Among Us is the game of the moment. You enter a ship with a bunch of online comrades and set about fixing it up. Only, a couple of the crew are tasked with sabotaging the ship without the others noticing. By sabotaging I really mean killing the other crew members. If you suspect someone you can call a meeting. If the other players agree you can eject the culprit. There’s nothing quite like getting innocent crew members tossed into space when you are the Impostor.

Donut County is a game about many things. There’s a complex narrative with lots of characters. But at bottom, it’s a game about wrecking people’s worlds. You control a hole that sucks in anything big enough to swallow. The more things you grab the bigger you get. By the end of most levels, you have destroyed the lives and livelihoods of anyone in your path.

Andy Robertson runs the Family Video Game Database (taminggaming.com) and has written the book Taming Gaming, out in January.

What do you think? Sound off in the comments and let us know your thoughts!

Make sure to keep your eyes on Engaged Family Gaming for all of the latest news and reviews you need to Get Your Family Game On!

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We talk a lot about ESRB ratings on all of our reviews and podcasts. Savvy parents are quick to check the game box for the rating to make sure their kids are playing games that are appropriate for them. ESRB ratings aren’t limited to just a letter though. There are, in fact, three different parts to every rating.

The three parts are listed below:

Rating Categories

This is the part we all know about. Each game reviewed by the ESRB is assigned a “Rating Category” that suggests its age appropriateness.

  • E
  • E10+
  • T
  • M

Content Descriptors

These descriptors are short phrases that identify what elements of the game caused an age rating to be assigned. Some examples might be Violence, Drug use, etc. These are, in my opinion, the most important part of the rating. Every family is different and every parent has different priorities regarding the kinds of content they want to let their kids see. These categories help with that!

Interactive Elements

These are point of interest in the mechanics of a game that are noteworthy, but don’t necessarily impact the age appropriateness of the game. Some examples of these types of elements are:

  • Online interactions
  • Online purchases
  • User information being available to other users

These three components make up an ESRB rating, and all of them are important for parents who want to control the games their kids play.

What do you think? Sound off in the comments and let us know your thoughts!

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This week Stephen and Amanda are here to catch up on video game news!

This podcast is sponsored by:

The Virtual Economy Podcast

EFG is proud to announce the newest podcast in its growing podcast network: EFG LFG PST! It’s a podcast all about World of Warcraft!

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Stephen

Avengers Beta

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Fall Guys

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Sony

Spider-Man is exclusive to PS4/PS5 in Avengers

State of Play

Xbox

HALO Infinite Delayed

Xbox Series X in November

Nintendo

Sales Numbers are BANANAS

Pikmin 3 Deluxe

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Music from https://filmmusic.io

“Android Sock Hop” by Kevin MacLeod (https://incompetech.com)

License: CC BY (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/)

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Here are all the family-friendly video games video game releases rated E-T by the ESRB that are releasing between August 16th and August 22nd.


Monday, August 17th


Cecconoid- Switch


Tuesday, August 18th


Helheim Hassle- Switch
Mortal Shell- PS4, Xbox One
My Universe: My Baby- Switch
Pathfinder: Kingmaker Definitive Edition- PS4, Xbox One


Wednesday, August 19th


Beyond Enemy Lines 2- Xbox One
Norman’s Great Illusion- Xbox One, Switch
Stones of the Revenant- Xbox One


Thursday, August 20th


Battletoads- Xbox One
Bunny Adventure- Switch
Chinese Parents- Switch
Ellipsis- Switch
Gleamlight- Xbox One, Switch
Kids: Farm Coloring- Switch
Kwaidan: Azuma Manor Story- Switch
Phoenotopia: Awakening- Switch
Retro Tanks- Switch


Friday, August 21st


4X4 Dirt Track- Switch
Dungeon Scavenger- Xbox One
New Super Lucky’s Tale- PS4, Xbox One
One Line Coloring- Switch
PGA Tour 2K21- PS4, Xbox One, Switch
Samurai Jack: Battle Through Time- PS4, Xbox One, Switch

Pick of the Week

I have GOT to give the nod to Battletoads! I never really got into the original on the NES, but I LOVE the Brawler genre. There is just something about running around and beating up cartoon enemies that brings me joy. They are also great couch co-op experiences. The fact that it’s coming to Xbox Game Pass is the icing on the cake for subscribers.

What do you think? Sound off in the comments and let us know your thoughts!

Make sure to keep your eyes on Engaged Family Gaming for all of the latest news and reviews you need to Get Your Family Game On!

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This week Stephen and Linda are here to talk about board games with Gwen and Sam from Runaway Parade Games. It’s all about Fire Tower and the upcoming expansion coming to Kickstarter.

This podcast is sponsored by:

ReadyPlayerMom – mixer.com/readyplayermom

The Virtual Economy Podcast

Around the Horn

Galaxy Trucker

Aerion

Topic

Rising Flame – the expansion to Fire Tower

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Music from https://filmmusic.io

“Android Sock Hop” by Kevin MacLeod (https://incompetech.com)

License: CC BY (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/)

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Here are all the video game releases rated E-T by the ESRB that are releasing between May 3rd and May 9th.

Tuesday, May 5th:

  • Pushy and Pully in Blockland- Xbox One
  • Tonight We Riot- Switch

Wednesday, May 6th:

  • Zombies Ruined My Day- Xbox One

Thursday, May 7th:

  • 80’s Overdrive- Switch
  • Cloudbase Prime- Switch
  • Fledgling Heroes- Switch
  • Gerritory- Switch
  • Ghost Files: Memory of a Crime- Switch
  • Infinite: Beyond the Mind- PS4, Xbox One, Switch
  • Jay and Silent Bob: Mall Brawl- Switch
  • Lonely Mountains: Downhill- Switch
  • Monochrome World- Switch
  • Relic Hunters Zero: Remix- Switch
  • Slayin 2- Switch
  • Spirit of the North- Switch
  • Tennis Club Story- Switch

Friday, May 8th:

  • Dark Burial- Switch
  • Feathery Ears- Switch
  • Fury Unleashed- PS4, Xbox One, Switch
  • Mecho Wars: Desert Ashes- Xbox One
  • Megabyte Punch- Switch
  • Sin Slayers: Enhanced Edition- Xbox One
  • SuperMash- PS4, Xbox One, Switch

Saturday, May 9th:

  • Highrise Heroes: Word Challenge- Switch

Jeff’s Pick of the Week

My pick of the week goes to SuperMash. This game was announced back in December during a Nindies World Showcase by Nintendo and I have been waiting patiently for it to be released. In SuperMash, you take two genres of games and combine them into a game that is generated by SuperMash. There are countless options of games to play. You can play a stealth JRPG, an action-adventure metroidvainia (called metrovania in the game). Or maybe you just want a simple platformer shooter. All of these can be created through the algorithms of the game. I cannot wait to see what games will be created! You can even share your game codes with a friend to try and beat!


What do you think? Sound off in the comments and let us know your thoughts!

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Here are all the video game releases rated E-T by the ESRB that are releasing between April 5th and April 11th.

Tuesday, April 7th

  • Disaster Report 4: Summer Memories- PS4, Switch
  • Grimvalor- Switch

Wednesday, April 8th

  • Convoy: A Tactical Roguelike- PS4, Xbox One, Switch
  • Galaxy of Pen and Paper +1 Edition- Xbox One, Switch
  • Pen and Paper Games Bundle- Switch
  • Towertale- Switch
  • Ubongo- Switch

Thursday, April 9th

  • Beholder 2- Xbox One
  • Bridge! 3- Switch
  • Fight of Animals- Switch
  • Gunbrick: Reloaded- Switch
  • Monster Viator- Switch

Friday, April 10th

  • BQM: BlockQuest Maker- Xbox One
  • Braveland Trilogy- Xbox One
  • Final Fantasy VII Remake- PS4
  • Obduction- Xbox One
  • Retro Tanks- Xbox One
  • RMX Real Motocross- Switch

Saturday, April 11th

  • Space Engineers- Xbox One
  • Tharsis- Switch

Jeff’s Pick of the Week

Finally! After almost five years since it was announced, Final Fantasy VII Remake will be in our hands. I cannot wait to dive into Cloud’s story and interact with all of the other characters along the way. I am not a huge fan of the original game and I do not think it aged very well, but I do respect its importance to gaming history. I tried to play the original on Switch last year, but could not get myself to finish it. I only got out of Midgar, which is where this game is going to end. I cannot wait to see the upgraded graphics and what they have included to fill out the story of Cloud, Barret, and Aerith.


What do you think? Sound off in the comments and let us know your thoughts!

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Another decade has come and gone. We played more games than we could ever name, but there were ten of them that stood out above the rest. Take a look below for our list of the best family friendly video games of the 2010s!

Minecraft

Minecraft

The number one game on our list of the best family games of the decade is Minecraft!

It stands at the top, not just because it is one of the best selling video games of all time, but because it has managed to be the default game for so many of our kids for almost the entirety of the last decade.

Minecraft manages to be a learning game, a creative tool, and a survival horror game all at once. This is an unbeatable achievement.

Even more surprising is the fact that Minecraft has been continually evolving the entire time. Fans who step away from the game for any considerable amount of time return to find new systems and features. They added bees and beehives just this past month!

Minecraft is, without question, the only game that could sit at the top of this list. In fact, it’s arguable that it could hold a place at the top of the list if we extended it back to the beginning of video games. It is just that good.

Fortnite

Do I think Fortnite is a better game than some of the others on this list? No.

But, is stands at number two because of its unquestionable impact on the games industry and on our kids since it’s release.

Fortnite has provided a digital playground for millions of kids and let them connect with their peers in a more family friendly environment than in Call of Duty lobbies.

Our kids play the game. They do the dances. They compare achievements. And they have all collectively created a new language while they were at it.

Detractors will say it’s a bad game, but they are wrong. It’s a great game that commits to providing a consistent stream of content with a fun core mechanic. I’d say that everyone needs to give Fortnite a shot, but I have a feeling that everyone already has.

Pokemon Go

Pokemon Go Logo

There is, arguably, no other game in history that has had the real world impact that Pokémon Go has.

Millions of players have caught Pokémon since its release and, while it has slowed down, it shows no signs of going away.

The summer launch of Pokémon Go caused huge crowds to assemble at parks, historical sites, and even businesses.

Pokémon Go players, in short order, logged enough miles walking to catch and hatch Pokémon that it equaled the distance to Pluto! (Which is very far away, obviously).

This kind of release will likely never happen again, and there is no doubt it was one of the best gaming experiences we’ve had this decade.

The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild

The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild

Long time EFG fans will know that this is one of my favorite games of all time and that means that the games above it have to be pretty significant in order to leave Breath of the Wild in the 4th spot. That isn’t to say that this isn’t one of, if not THE, best video games Nintendo has ever made though.

Breath of the http://engagedfamilygaming.com/reviews/family-video-game-review-legend-zelda-breath-wild/Wild was our game of the year in 2017 and it faced stiff competition from Horizon: Zero Dawn.

It earned its place because it took the Legend of Zelda franchise in a bold new direction by eschewing the linear path of item collection and temple dungeon completion in favor of an open world that could be tackled in any order. Open world games are by no means new, but this was a welcome addition to Zelda and I can’t wait to see where they take it next.

Shovel Knight 

Shovel Knight Moonshot

This wily Kickstarter from 2013 is still alive and kicking. In fact, Yacht Club Games just released the last parts of the Shovel Knight Treasure Trove this past month.

Shovel Knight does an amazing job of taking all of the things that we love about old school platformers like Mega Man, Duck Tales, and even Castlevania and smashing them together into a wonderful, cohesive whole.

Shovel Knight is a fun protagonist whose adventures are silly more often than not, but packs some serious challenge. The other games in the treasure trove are all wonderful and feature different knights from the first game in their own wild adventures; each with their own mechanics and stories.

It’s hard to find a better value than Shovel Knight Treasure Trove and it is easy to recommend it to anyone, especially folks looking for an old school challenge!

Marvel’s Spider-Man

Spider-Man was our game of the year in 2018, and would easily hold its own against other games of the year that we’ve announced in the past.

Insomniac Games was the perfect developer to bring the friendly neighborhood Spider-Man to life. They were able to capture the true essence of what makes Spider-Man a fun hero to watch and to play: the traversal.

Swinging around New York City looking for backpacks, finding crimes to fight, and battling with super villains was a blast from the very first second until It’s emotional end.

Super Smash Bros. Ultimate

The phrase, “Let’s settle it in Smash!” is very common in our house, and I can’t imagine that it is uncommon elsewhere.

The Super Smash Bros. series has been around since the Nintendo 64 era and it continually grows in scope and in popularity. Super Smash Bros. Ultimate lives up to his name and its fan base is huge as it is the best selling fighting game of all time.

There are obviously members of the Super Smash Bros. community that prefer earlier games like Super Smash Bros. Melee. But, as far as we’re concerned it is the best game in the series.

It’s often difficult to recommend fighting games to anything other than fighting game fans. Smash is the exception I can recommend this game to anyone that owns a Nintendo switch and feel comfortable that they will enjoy it.

Super Mario Galaxy 2

This is an “oldie,” compared to some of the other games on this list, but it’s no less amazing.

Super Mario Galaxy flipped the Mario formula on its head by turning every level into a sphere (or series of spheres connected through space). This created all sorts of interesting design space for the designers to mess with.

Each new “planet” was a joy to behold.

Super Mario Galaxy 2 came along in 2010 and took that same formula and turned the volume up to 11. It improved the original in every single way AND added Yoshi to the mix.

I sit awake at night wondering why Nintendo hasn’t remastered this one and put it on the Switch, because it would be an amazing addition to the systems already stacked lineup.

Mario Kart 8 Deluxe

Link Legend of Zelda Mario Kart 8

The Mario Kart series has slowly grown to be the biggest game in their stable of exclusives. Ever iteration is met with thunderous excitement and delivers fun that the entire family can enjoy!

Mario Kart 8 Deluxe is the definitive version of the very best that the franchise has to offer.

Every track is masterfully created (or recreated) and the music is jazzy and fun in all the right ways!

Not only that, but the deluxe version includes the DLC that introduced Link and Isabelle to Mario Kart and made the case for the next game to just be called, “Nintendo Kart.”

This is the first game I recommend to families who buy the Nintendo Switch. It is an absolute must own.

Skylanders: Spyro’s Adventure

It is impossible to talk about the biggest family games of the last ten years without starting with Skylanders Spyro’s Adventure and his friends kicked off the entire toys to life genre and initiated an entire generation of gamers with its light action RPG gameplay.

Countless families (including us!) still have bins upon bins of these figures just waiting for their kids to have a bout of nostalgia.

The Toys to Life craze is definitely over, and lots of parents are happy about it, but there is no denying the impact it had. 


What do you think? Sound off in the comments and let us know your thoughts!

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It’s that time of year again. Finding great gifts for people can be tough. Here are some of our Nintendo recommendations for the kids in your life!

Pokemon Sword and Pokemon Shield

The 8th generation of Pokemon is upon us! Pokemon Sword and Shield will be the perfect gifts for the Pokemon fans in your family. These games can easily provide a hundred or more hours of entertainment, and these newer games will likely include even more! Sword and Shield are the first Pokemon games released on a home Nintendo console so they look great, but, as always, they are right at home on the go.

Super Mario Maker 2

Super Mario Maker 2 is one of the best creative tools for young and adult gamers alike. This game lets you create Super Mario Levels from across the history of Nintendo, with a well made tutorial that offers plenty of new ideas. Players can browse player made content by individual creator or in an endless mode that select levels based on difficulty. Super Mario Maker 2 is easily the best level creation experience for the Nintendo Switch.

The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening

The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening is a shot for shot remake of a game (by the same name) that was released on the Game Boy Color in 1993. This version released in September with an adorable new art style and an orchestral soundtrack. This is a perfect gift for Zelda fans that are too young to have played the original AND for those of us looking for a chance to relive our glory days. 

Fire Emblem: Three Houses

If your child spent hours arranging all of their Imaginext toys in massive battles, then Fire Emblem is worth a look. Fire Emblem: Three Houses is a strategy game set in a sword and sorcery themed academy for heroes. (It’s not exactly Hogwarts for Dungeons and Dragons characters, but it’s pretty close.) Battles play out on massive fields where you move your different characters around strategically to take advantage of enemy weaknesses. This is a challenging game, and the characters are teenagers (so they come with the appropriate thematic baggage), but it ends up as a T-rated game. 

Steamworld Quest: The Hand of Gilgamech

All of the Steamworld games are amazing, but this is easily one of my favorites. Steamworld Quest is a friendly RPG where you control a team of robots during a fantasy/steampunk era.  The combat is card-based. You build a 24 card deck using a card pool determined by which robots are in your party. Every fight turns into a puzzle that is very satisfying to solve. The story is also relatively short so this will be a great game for Holiday break!

Marvel Ultimate Alliance 3

It’s tough to find a kid that doesn’t love Marvel super heroes and Ultimate Alliance 3 has a TON of them. Ultimate Alliance 3 is a celebration of recent Marvel history that has a character just about every kid will enjoy. MUA3 is a paint by numbers action RPG for up to four players. It doesn’t do anything revolutionary, but it doesn’t really need to in order to be a great gift. 

Yoshi’s Crafted World

Every year I get asked about video game gifts for younger gamers. Yoshi’s Crafted World is this year’s answer to that question. It’s adorable. It’s simple to control. And it’s engaging. This will be a great game to share with the younger siblings/cousins who might not be ready for bigger challenges just yet. 

Ring Fit Adventure

Nintendo has made fitness games before. Wii Fit (and the Wii Fit Balance board) where huge hits back when they came out. Ring Fit Adventure is their latest attempt to break into that scene on the Nintendo Switch. Ring Fit Adventure is an RPG adventure where you move around the world by running in place, and attack monsters by completing exercises using a specially designed pilates band. The story isn’t anything to write home about, but its good enough to help motivate players to complete a short workout every day. 

Untitled Goose Game

(Honk)… A PC game that charmed the Internet with its simplicity, Untitled Goose Game is best described (without spoilers) as an environmental puzzle game. You are a goose, with the mind of mischief and the talents of a… goose. You have a list of things to do, and no idea how to do them. Our advice is to pick it up on Steam as a gift for the holidays and enjoy the mayhem. 


Crash Team Racing: Nitro Fueled

Crash Team Racing: Nitro Fueled is a painstakingly crafted remaster of several Crash Team Racing games that were released on PS1 and PS2. This is a challenging cart racer that will be a big hit with fans of Mario Kart 8 that are looking for more challenge. This a feature rich remaster with 31 tracks, numerous cosmetic items, and a full-fledged story mode. It’s definitely worth looking into for your family. 

Luigi’s Mansion 3

Luigi doesn’t get the spotlight very often. That honor is normally reserved for his brother Mario. The Luigi’s Mansion series is the exception. These spooky adventures feature Luigi while he tries to rescue his lost brother from King Boo. Luigi’s Mansion 3 is out now for the Switch and includes a lot more variety in the environments because it takes place in a massive haunted hotel. This will be a great game for kids who love to explore and solve puzzles. (Note: This game is definitely more silly than it is spooky so don’t be super concerned about kids getting scared.)


What do you think? Sound off in the comments and let us know your thoughts!

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What is it?

Disney+ is the Walt Disney Company’s newest streaming platform that will have movies and television shows from all of the different brands that Disney owns. This includes Marvel, Star Wars, National Geographic, Pixar, and of course the Walt Disney Studios. Disney+ will even have movies and shows from their newest acquisition, 21st Century Fox. 

How much does it cost?

You can sign up for Disney+ for $6.99 a month or $69.99 a year. There were also deals that you can find if you are Disney Visa Card holder or a D23 member. If you are a Verizon Wireless Unlimited member you can receive a year of Disney+ for free with your membership. You can also bundle Disney+ with Hulu (with ads) and ESPN plus for $12.99 a month. 

What devices can I get it on?

Disney+ has been said to be streamed on many major platforms including Roku sticks and televisions, Apple TV, iPhones, iPads, Xbox One, and PlayStation 4. At this time, Disney+ has not been announced to work Fire TV Sticks, but Disney has said that they want to bring it to all major streaming devices. 

What features are included with Disney+?

Disney+ allows up to 4K digital streaming and every Disney+ account will be able to stream on up to 4 devices at a time with no additional cost. The app will also allow for downloading of titles so that you can watch them without an internet connection. 

Now for the most important question…

What will be available on launch day?

Disney+ will launch with over 300 movies and shows available on day one. Included in the bunch are almost all of Disney Animation movies (what happened to Tarzan), Disney television shows including the Disney Afternoon shows from the 80s and 90s, every Pixar movie released up until Cars 3, every Star Wars movie up until Rogue One, and a handful of shows from National Geographic and Marvel. 

What are the new shows being released on the app?

Along with Disney’s back catalog of shows and movies dating back to the 1920s and 1930s, Disney also plans to have steady releases of new content as well. Some of the new shows and movies announced that will be released on day 1 include The Mandalorian (Star Wars), a Lady and the Tramp live action remake, The Imagineering Story, and High School Musical: The Musical: The Series. Disney has announced that their new releases will forego the Netflix model and instead of releasing the whole season at once, they will release each episode separately. 

Is this only for kids?

Disney+ can be enjoyed by the whole family. Disney did say that nothing rated R will be available on the service. To watch more adult based shows and movies (like Deadpool), you will have to turn to Hulu. But there are shows that adults can enjoy as well. Most of the National Geographic documentaries are catered towards adults. Also, every episode from the first 30 seasons of The Simpsons will be available. You can also find more adult orientated movies like 3 Men and a Baby and 10 Things I Hate About You on the service. 

What do you think? Sound off in the comments and let us know your thoughts!

Make sure to keep your eyes on Engaged Family Gaming for all of the latest news and reviews you need to Get Your Family Game On!

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