Cover art used in Asia for the original release and internationally for the Wii U release
|Publisher(s)||Sega (360, PS3)
Nintendo (Wii U)
Hitoshi Yamagami (Wii U)
|Release date(s)||PlayStation 3, Xbox 360
|Genre(s)||Action, hack and slash|
Bayonetta is a third-person action game developed by PlatinumGames and published by Sega. The game was originally released for Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 in Japan in October 2009, and in North America and Europe in January 2010. The game was later released on the Wii U alongside its sequel, Bayonetta 2, releasing in September 2014 in Japan and October 2014 in North America and Europe.
Bayonetta takes place in Vigrid, a fictional city in Europe. The game stars the titular character, a witch who is capable of shapeshifting and using various firearms. She also possesses magical attacks, and she can use her own hair to summon demons to dispatch her foes. The game features a rating system, which gives players a grade based on their performance, and a combat system that is similar to the Devil May Cry series.
Development of the game was started in January 2007, with Hideki Kamiya being the game's director. According to Kamiya, the game was completely original, though he drew some inspirations from some Scandinavian mythology, and played Devil May Cry 4 for reference. The game's theme is "sexiness", and that the characters were designed to be "fashionable". Kamiya and artist Mari Shimazaki spent more than a year to create Bayonetta's design. Several demos were released for the game prior to its launch. Bayonetta was the third project released by PlatinumGames, which was founded by former Clover Studios' employees.
Upon release, the game received very positive reviews. The game was praised for its combat, presentation and soundtrack, but was criticized for its story and quick-time-events. The game sold over 1.35 million units worldwide as of 2010, but Platinum was disappointed with the game's sales. The game was awarded and nominated for several end-of-the year accolades. An anime film adaptation of the game by Gonzo, titled Bayonetta: Bloody Fate, was released in Japan in November 2013.
Bayonetta is a single-player, third-person 3D action game. Its combat system is similar to that of director Hideki Kamiya's previous title, Devil May Cry. The player controls a witch named Bayonetta, and using both melee and long ranged attacks, complex combo strings, and multiple weapons, is encouraged to explore ways to dispatch angelic enemies with as much flair as possible. Special commands or actions are woven into events, finishes, executions, and unique "Torture Attacks" in which Bayonetta summons a variety of devices to deal devastating blows to her enemies. Such devices range from chainsaws to iron maidens. Bayonetta also has unique but limited abilities that her enemies do not possess, such as "Witch Time", which activates when the player makes a well-timed dodge to an attack. This temporarily slows time to allow Bayonetta to inflict massive amounts of counter damage before the enemies can react.
The player can double jump for extra height, perform evasive backflips, and destroy background objects and doors. Camera views can be rotated, enemy targets can be locked on, and weapons can be switched during play. With unlockable transformations, the player can make Bayonetta become a panther or one of various other living creatures to enhance her abilities. Lollipops can be used to heal her, replenish her magic, induce invincibility or increase her strength, although using these items, as well as dying, lowers the score for that chapter. By finding various component items, the player can combine them into new items. Many enemies and objects drop halos when destroyed (resembling the rings from Sega's Sonic the Hedgehog series), which the player can use to buy items, techniques and weapon upgrades. The player can also use enemy weapons, either to directly attack or as props for movement. Bayonetta's strongest attacks transform her hair into giant boots, fists or monsters that assault the enemy. Bayonetta starts the game with four guns, two in her hands, two on her feet. By finding golden LP albums, some of which are in multiple pieces, players can earn new weapons, such as shotguns, a katana and a whip. These can be customized to Bayonetta's arms and legs in various combinations.
The game consists of multiple chapters, each consisting of several verses. Depending on how well the player performs, they are given one of the following medals at the end of the verse; Stone, Bronze, Silver, Gold, Platinum and Pure Platinum, similar to the rating system of Viewtiful Joe. There are some medals that are earned off the beaten path, such as special areas with set challenges. At the end of the chapter, a final score and an award is given depending on the type of medals achieved, with the score being deducted for any items used and deaths occurred. In between chapters there is a minigame called Angel Attack, in which players use Arcade Bullets found in the main levels to shoot at angels and earn points. These points can be traded in for items, with any leftover points exchanged for halos.
The game includes five difficulty modes: "Very Easy", "Easy", "Normal", "Hard", and "Non-Stop Infinite Climax". On Easy and Very Easy, a "Very Easy Automatic" mode is made available in which the game positions Bayonetta to perform attacks on enemies, and the player only needs to press one button to execute elaborate combos, unless they wish to perform their own choice of movements or attacks. Kamiya, who first added such a mode to Devil May Cry, posted a video on the game's official website in which character designer Mari Shimazaki demonstrated the mode (which Kamiya "jokingly called 'Mommy Mode'") in Bayonetta. He expects players to first complete the game in 10 to 12 hours, but believes that its rating system (similar to that of Viewtiful Joe, which he directed) and the pursuit of high scores will provide replay value. The game has a fixed button configuration; Kamiya said "we found that there wasn't really a point to changing [it]".
Setting and characters
Bayonetta takes place in Vigrid, a fictional city in Europe. The title character (voiced by Hellena Taylor) is a witch who shapeshifts and uses various firearms, along with magical attacks she performs with her own hair by summoning demons to dispatch her foes. She awakens after a 500-year sleep near Eggman's tomestone and finds herself in an unfamiliar area with no memories of who or what she is. Over time, she begins to remember what caused her current predicament. 500 years before the incident that caused Bayonetta's memory loss, there were two factions preserving the balance between darkness and light in the world: the Umbra Witches, who are followers of darkness, and their counterparts, the Lumen Sages, who are followers of light. The factions shared two distinct treasures, the 'Eyes of the World' (separately named the 'Left Eye' and the 'Right Eye') which they used to oversee the just passage of time. Both factions mysteriously disappeared from Vigrid under unknown circumstances. Bayonetta still has an ornate piece of jewelry which contains a small red gem, and believes this gem is the Left Eye of the Eyes of the World. While searching for the Right Eye, she often receives flashbacks that make her remember what caused her current predicament.
A male character known as Luka (ルカ?) (voiced by Yuri Lowenthal) had met Bayonetta as a child, and is now a possible love interest for her. Other characters include Bayonetta's rival and fellow Umbra Witch Jeanne (ジャンヌ Jannu?) (voiced by Grey DeLisle), who wields four guns like Bayonetta; Rodin (ロダン Rodan?) (voiced by Dave Fennoy), the owner of a bar called the Gates Of Hell where Bayonetta can buy various weapons and items; an informant named Enzo (エンツォ Entso?) (voiced by Chick Vennera) who looks and sounds similar to actor Joe Pesci, and provides comic relief; a young girl named Cereza (セレッサ Seressa?) whom Bayonetta meets early in the game; and the main antagonist Balder (バルドル Barudoru?) (voiced by Grant Albrecht).
The realms Bayonetta inhabits are the game's different settings, which borrow from Dante's Divine Comedy: Paradiso (heaven), which generally takes the form of a heavenly yellow or golden valley or palace and is the home of the "Angel" enemies she faces; Purgatorio (purgatory), a metarealm that functions as an "in between" for metaphysical beings and stands alongside yet outside of the plane humans exist on (all beings in and outside of Purgatorio take on a transparent, watery appearance); and Inferno (hell), which is the game's realm that contains infernal demons of the sort that Bayonetta herself occasionally summons with her Witch powers. Further research uncovers that the Witches actually drew most of their power from the demons that exist in Inferno.
In the present day, an informant named Enzo has joined up with Bayonetta, a witch who was revived twenty years ago from the bottom of a lake and has no memories of her past. Owning one half of the "Eyes of the World", Bayonetta leaves for Vigrid when Enzo informs her of rumors the other half is there.
Afterward, Bayonetta confronts another Umbra Witch named Jeanne, as well as a young man named Luka; the former seemingly has ties to Bayonetta's past, while the latter blames Bayonetta for his father's death. Bayonetta then battles through Vigrid before encountering Fortitudo, one of the four Cardinal Virtues, and defeats him.
Making her way through the Crescent and Sunrise Valleys, Bayonetta finds Jeanne conversing with Temperantia, the second of the Cardinal Virtues; after defeating Jeanne, she then meets a lost child named Cereza. Much to Bayonetta's frustration, the child believes she's her mother and follows her; after eventually returning to the human world, Bayonetta leaves Cereza with Luka and confronts Temperantia, whom she defeats. Continuing her search for the Right Eye, Bayonetta follows Luka and Cereza down Prominence Bridge in an attempt to reach the island known as Isla del Sol; she is attacked by Iustitia, the third Cardinal Virtue, and defeats him.
The trio board a Valkyrie jet headed for Isla Del Sol, only for Cereza to become lost. After finding her and fighting Jeanne again, Sapientia, the final Cardinal Virtue attacks and downs the jet, and Bayonetta defeats him. The three then head for Isla del Sol by helicopter, and then by missile. When they reach the island, Bayonetta is confronted again by Jeanne, who explains Bayonetta was a child born from an Umbra Witch and a Lumen Sage, which was forbidden and resulted in Bayonetta being ostracized. Bayonetta defeats Jeanne, who reveals the reason Bayonetta possesses the Left Eye is because she has accepted her fate. Bayonetta hands Jeanne the gem she had been carrying, making her remember she is Cereza, and that Jeanne was once her friend; it was Jeanne who sealed her away, giving Bayonetta the gem to protect her and the Left Eye. After Jeanne then sacrifices herself to save Bayonetta, she continues through the tower with Luka and Cereza.
Upon reaching the top, Bayonetta finally meets Father Balder, the last of the Lumen Sages. Balder reveals he is Bayonetta's father, and that he plans to reunite the three universes by resurrecting Jubileus, the Creator; however, since Bayonetta could not remember her past, Cereza was sent back to her to help her remember, allowing Balder to use her as the "left-eye". After revealing he was responsible for the death of Luka's father, Balder throws him to his death, before fighting Bayonetta among rubble falling from the tower. Bayonetta ultimately manages to defeat Balder, before saving a falling Luka and Cereza.
After making a time portal to return her younger self home, Bayonetta returns to the present, only to collapse after regaining her memory; seemingly unharmed, Balder transports himself and the unconscious Bayonetta towards the statue on top of the tower, beginning the resurrection of Jubileus. As the statue launches into space, Jeanne reappears after earlier escaping both death and Balder's control narrowly. She ascends the launching statue on her motorcycle by riding along the surface; after reaching Bayonetta, she saves her, only for Jubileus to come alive. Jeanne floats away from the statue, leaving Bayonetta alone to fight the deity. Bayonetta eventually defeats Jubileus by summoning Queen Sheba, who punches the deity into the sun. As the statue left behind by Jubileus plummets towards Earth, Jeanne is revealed to be alive, and after destroying the last of the Jubileus statue, Bayonetta and Jeanne end up in a free-fall towards Earth; after surviving the descent, the epilogue shows them continuing to battle against the Angels.
Hideki Kamiya directed development of Bayonetta at PlatinumGames since January 2007, and the game was "more-or-less complete" by October 21, 2009. The group developed for Microsoft's Xbox 360 game console, while Sega—with Platinum Games's original data and support— handled Nex Entertainment to port the game to Sony's PlayStation 3. Kamiya had worked on previous games such as Devil May Cry, Viewtiful Joe, Resident Evil and its sequel, and as such, the game makes occasional references to these games, as well as other Clover Studios titles and various Sega franchises, such as a minigame inspired by Space Harrier.
Mari Shimazaki designed the game's characters to be "fashionable", with "subdued" features. She designed the titular character to fulfill Kamiya's request for a modern, female witch that wears glasses and wields four guns, and the two settled on her original concept for the character despite her work "over a year" on other concepts. Bayonetta emerged as a long-haired, black-clothed witch with a beehive hairdo (in place of the traditional pointy hat) and glasses (which Kamiya "really pushed for ... to differentiate Bayonetta from other female characters and give her a sense of mystery and intelligence"). Conversely, Shimazaki "didn't require a huge amount of effort" to design Bayonetta's short-haired, red-clothed rival Jeanne, who merely wears her glasses on her head above her eyes. She added plumes to Jeanne's handguns to add movement to the design, and thick makeup to Jeanne's face to "make [her] feel like something out of the 1960s". Though Shimazaki preferred Bayonetta, Jeanne turned out to be the more popular of the two witches among Kamiya and the development team. Still, in an April 2009 interview, Kamiya called the former "in many ways ... my ideal woman".
Though the game's director "deliberately created Bayonetta from scratch" and has called its story "completely original", he has admitted using "some names from Scandinavian mythology" and playing "about half of" Devil May Cry 4 for research. As a fan of folk music, he named Bayonetta's set of four handguns after the old English ballad "Scarborough Fair", and its individual guns Parsley, Sage, Rosemary and Thyme. Hiroshi Yamaguchi focused on composing music for the game that has a "nice up-tempo beat" and expresses femininity through female choirs, pianos, and other "'beautiful' instruments"—though some tracks also use pure orchestra or folk instruments—while Kenichiro Yoshimura transformed Shimazaki's Bayonetta design into a game model and used the digital sculpting tool ZBrush to create normal maps for its details. He worked with Shimazaki on the model's makeup, referred to foreign models with similar bodies, and said "I really wanted to get Bayonetta's backside perfect. I guess I am into that sort of thing..." The language spoken by the Angels and for all Infernal Summons is Enochian.
To Kamiya, the core theme of the game and its protagonist's attacks is "sexiness". To "her femininity and sexuality", the developers made Bayonetta bleed rose petals instead of blood when hit, and used butterfly imagery as part of her moves and outfit. Her giant boot, fist, and monster attacks reveal some of her body—her hair is magically formed into clothes but must be temporarily reallocated to forming offensive weapons—and when the player targets an enemy, red lips mark the enemy's chest; this led IGN to call the developing game a mix of "action and a great big helping of fan service". The game's sexual tone is reflected in its age rating in the United States: the Entertainment Software Rating Board rated the developing game "Mature" ("M", for ages 17 and older) for containing "Partial Nudity" and "Suggestive Themes", as well as "Blood and Gore, Intense Violence," and "Strong Language". (By comparison, Japan's Computer Entertainment Rating Organization rated the game "D", also for those ages; the British Board of Film Classification rated the game "15" for "strong language and bloody violence"; and it was rated "18" under the PEGI system used in the United Kingdom and other European countries for its use of violence and language.
At the 2009 Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3), Sega chose Penny Drake to model as Bayonetta after auditioning 100 women. The company then joined men's lifestyle website Maxim.com to run a contest to find women who looked like Bayonetta. The grand prize winner, Andrea Bonaccorso, announced on November 23, 2009, received an Xbox 360, a 50-inch plasma television, and a copy of the 360 version of the game. Sega hired Japanese pop singer MiChi to perform "Something Missing", written for a Bayonetta commercial. The commercial, which has since been shown on the game's official Japanese website, touts the game as "non-stop climax action (∞クライマックス・アクション?)" and features a model dressed as Bayonetta with a lollipop. In the U.S. and the UK, commercials have featured La Roux's "In for the Kill".
Release and merchandise
Demos of Bayonetta were released on Xbox Live and PlayStation Network in Japan on October 8, 2009, and internationally on December 3, 2009. The full game was released on October 29, 2009, in Japan, and was later released in other regions in 2010: January 5 in North America, January 7 in Australia, and January 8 in Europe. An update for the PlayStation 3 version was released on January 28, allowing players to install the game on their hard drive, dramatically reducing load times.
A 150-song, five-CD soundtrack for the game was scheduled for a November 4 release. Another soundtrack CD, Rodin's Selection, was created for inclusion with pre-ordered copies of the game. It comes packaged in a brown jacket styled as a menu from Rodin's bar "The Gates of Hell". Sega of Europe released an ∞ Climax Edition (or simply Climax Edition) of the game in the UK, France, Spain, and Australia, which included the game, the Rodin's Selection tracks packaged in a black-and-red jacket with the game logo, and an artbook. Pre-orders in Australia and "most European territories" included a replica of one of Bayonetta's "Scarborough Fair" guns.
Bayonetta Witch of Vigrid, a book with pictures of the title character and an "interview" with her, was released on October 22, 2009. By then, a Bayonetta theme had been made available for the Google Chrome browser. A song entitled "Reaping Beauty" by MC Lars and featuring Beefy, Random, Tina Root of Small Halo and SMP was included on the second re-release of Lars' album 21 Concepts (But a Hit Ain't One). The song is directly inspired by Bayonetta, and heavily references the title character and many of the game's aesthetic and gameplay elements.
The Bayonetta Original Soundtrack was released in Japan on November 4, 2009. The album contains five discs with 150 tracks used in the game, composed by Hiroshi Yamaguchi, Masami Ueda, Rei Kondoh, Norihiko Hibino, Erina Niwa, Takayasu Sodeoka, Takahiro Izutani, Yoshitaka Suzuki, Naoto Tanaka, and Mitsuharu Fukuyama. It was also released on the North American iTunes Store on the same day, spanning 5 Volumes in total. The North American release of the soundtrack does not include any version of "Fly Me To The Moon". Helena Noguerra provided the main vocals for the theme of Bayonetta.
Bayonetta: Bloody Fate
An anime film based on the game, titled Bayonetta: Bloody Fate (ベヨネッタ ブラッディフェイト Beyonetta Buraddi Feito?), was directed by Fuminori Kizaki and produced by Gonzo, with screenplay by Mitsutaka Hirota and character design by Ai Yokoyama. The film was announced at Tokyo Game Show 2013 and released in ten Japanese theaters for two weeks from November 23, 2013. It was then released on Blu-ray Disc and DVD in Japan on January 24, 2014. A manga adaptation illustrated by Mizuki Sakakibara was published in two parts in Kodansha's Bessatsu Shōnen Magazine on November 9, 2013 and December 9, 2013 respectively.
Cam Shea of IGN Australia praised the developing game in March 2009 as "absolutely stunning-looking" and "a balls-out action game set amongst glorious European architecture", and called its titular witch their "new favourite videogame character ever ... even cooler than [Devil May Cry's main character] Dante ... she has the playfulness and versatility of Dante, but wrapped up in some of the most visually inventive combat we've seen in a long while". Similarly, GameSpy's Gerald Villoria praised the game in July that year as highly original to the point that it could end up like the poor-selling Ōkami (another Kamiya-directed game) for it—"the premise, the characters, the action sequences, they're all entirely different from anything else I've ever seen," he wrote—and called its lead a "constantly moving", "remarkably multi-faceted" character "presented in an ultra-stylish way".
Matt Leone of 1UP.com said of a pre-release version of the game's PS3 port at E3 2009: "The first thing I noticed was that, at the end of a normal combo, you can hold down the final button in the string to continuously fire gunshots—which looks incredibly cool when you kick someone and then keep your leg pointed at their face as your foot pours bullets on it." He added, "I'll be amazed if Bayonetta doesn't end up being one of the best action games this year." Staff at GameSpot UK were also generally impressed with the PS3 port, which they played on June 3. They called the "Witch Time" mechanic a "cool move" and one of the two boss battles they fought were "pretty intense", and said "it's easy to see the similarities between the two over-the-top action games [Bayonetta and Devil May Cry]". They added, "Rampant violence and sexism is par for the course" in the game. 1UP's staff again played a PS3 version for 15 minutes on the weekend of August 31 that year, at Platinum Games's "Feel Bayonetta" event in Tokyo's Roppongi district. They said that it "was very blurry" compared to a 360 version displayed there, and that its frame rate "was all over the place. ... it was often hard to keep track of the action [in one scene] because of the graphical issues on PS3."
Bayonetta was one of twelve games to receive a Japan Game Awards 2009 "Future Division" award at Tokyo Game Show 2009. At the show, Daniel Feit of Wired News played both versions and felt the 360 version was "a little brighter and more colorful ... while the PS3 version cut scenes feel like you're watching a movie through a sepia filter." He found the game's commands easy to learn and perform, but criticized the camera angles sometimes used in the game in both versions: "When Bayonetta runs too close to the edge of a scene, the camera can automatically focus on her and the wall instead of showing the enemies cornering her. Some of her larger hair-based attacks can also obscure the action."
Sinobi, a Japanese blog known for its early sales data, reported Bayonetta sold 138,000 copies—93,000 for the PS3 and 45,000 for the 360—on its day of release in the country. Media Create reported the PS3 version sold 135,242 copies and was the top-selling game during its week of release there, while the 360 version sold 64,325 copies and charted at number seven. Phil Elliott of GamesIndustry.biz called the 360 version's lower sales figures "a very strong performance for the Microsoft platform, relative to installed base". The two releases fell to number eight and number 15 respectively the following week. By March 31, 2010, Bayonetta sold 1.35 million units worldwide. In retrospective, Platinum's president Tatsuya Minami stated Bayonetta was their best-selling title but commented the sales did not beat their expectations.
A few days before Bayonetta's release, Japanese gaming publication Famitsu awarded the Xbox 360 version a perfect 40 out of 40, a relatively rare occurrence that many consider prestigious. The PlayStation 3 version received a slightly lower rating, criticized for its lesser visual quality, frame rate and control problems compared to the Xbox 360 version. Edge awarded the game a score of 10 out of 10, praising the game's combat system for being both deep and based around clear rules which are immediately accessible and well-taught to the player. Edge singled out the upgrade from Normal to Hard difficulties as "where Bayonetta transitions from the great to the legendary," concluding, "it's difficult to recall another third-person actioner that feels so worth mastering." GamesRadar's Nathan Irvine also gave the game 10 out of 10, calling it "nails ... the epic scale of everything that unfolds before your eyes and the manner in which it's delivered", believed it was better than God of War Collection, Devil May Cry 4, and Ninja Gaiden Sigma 2, and praised its "superb action" and humor (such as "Luka doing his best Assassin's Creed impression by looking moody in an Altair/Ezio style hood"). However, he said "the only time anything makes sense with Bayonetta's story is right at the end", and complained about some of the game's "insanely frustrating" Quick Time Events (QTEs).
In contrast to Irvine, IGN UK's Martin Robinson said "it's not Devil May Cry, Ninja Gaiden or God of War that's the best point of reference but Super Mario Galaxy": he felt Bayonetta, like the Nintendo game, "loves to tinker with the player's sense of perspective, and fights that begin on street surface often wind their way up the surrounding walls." Ryan Clements of IGN called the game "stylish, entertaining", and "unique", and its voice work "a bit campy but still extremely enjoyable", but said its "plot is all over the place" and "isn't as skillfully told as game stories like Mass Effect and Uncharted. In his 360 version review, Clements called the game an "incredible work" with "final moments ... alone worth the price of admission", but said it sometimes exhibited minor "screen tearing and slowdown, which happen during explorative sections and intense action sequences, respectively." He said the PS3 version was "still a fun game" but had "a lot of problems, primary among them being the excessive slowdown and loading". Eurogamer commented that "the result is a game that exemplifies so much of what commentators claim has died in the Japanese game industry. A blast of creative brilliance, both technically accomplished, strategically deep and infused with rare imagination, Bayonetta represents the pinnacle of its chosen niche."
However, Gamearena criticized the depiction of the heroine and the game's lack of mass-market appeal: "Many people found DMC too campy and over-the-top, and Bayonetta makes it look monochrome in comparison. If you don't like the genre, Bayonetta will not change your mind." GameSpot's video review lamented duller graphics and inconsistent frame rates for its PS3 port. The Associated Press review opined that "Bayonetta feels like a game that would have blown me away 15 years ago. (It even pays tribute to Sega arcade classics like Space Harrier and Hang-On.) While it introduces an exotic new vision, it doesn't give us anything to do except fight, and its strictly linear story prevents you from exploring its distinctive universe. It's high on style, but less than satisfying."
IGN UK announced that Bayonetta was their pick for the 2010 Game of the Year (GOTY). Cliff Bleszinski, former design director of Epic Games, has stated that he is a fan of the game's "crunchy" game design. Later on, when asked what game in history he would liked to have worked on, he said Bayonetta.
Daan Koopman at Nintendo World Report, reviewing the Wii U version, rated the game an 8/10. Koopman stated "The original Bayonetta is still a glorious action game and time has not really changed that one bit." He also praised the addition of the Nintendo-themed costumes, for their humor and functions.
A sequel, Bayonetta 2, was announced in September 2012 as a Wii U exclusive title to be published by Nintendo. The game, released in Japan in September 2014 and released in North America and Europe in October 2014, features a port of the original Bayonetta, which adds exclusive costumes based on Nintendo properties including Super Mario Bros, The Legend of Zelda, Star Fox and Metroid, as well as touch screen controls and dual audio tracks.
Bayonetta appears as a playable fighter in the Nintendo game Super Smash Bros. for Nintendo 3DS and Wii U. The game features her original outfit from Bayonetta as an alternate outfit and incorporates most of her combo-esque attacks and wicked weaves, though faced moderate censorship as to keep with the game's age rating.
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