The logo of the Professor Layton series
|Platform(s)||Nintendo DS, Nintendo 3DS, Android, iOS|
|First release||Professor Layton and the Curious Village|
February 15, 2007
|Latest release||Layton's Mystery Journey|
July 20, 2017
Professor Layton[a] is a puzzle adventure game series and multimedia franchise developed by Level-5. Consisting primarily of seven main video games, an animated theatrical film, and an anime television series, the franchise also incorporates a crossover game with Capcom's Ace Attorney series and a mobile-only spinoff.
The first three games follow the adventures of Professor Hershel Layton and his apprentice Luke Triton, while the subsequent three games and the film are prequels, focusing on how Luke and Layton met and their original exploits. Later installments follow the escapades of Layton's children and their respective allies. Each title features a series of puzzles and mysteries provided by the citizens of locales that the main characters visit. It is not necessary to solve all the puzzles to progress, but some are mandatory, and at certain points in the game a minimum number of puzzles must be solved before the story can continue.
The main character in the Professor Layton games is Professor Hershel Layton, a renowned archaeologist and professor at Gressenheller University, as well as a polite and well-spoken gentleman. He is called to solve various mysteries in different places, due to his connections to various people and his wide range of expertise. Professor Layton is always accompanied by his apprentice, Luke Triton, a cheerful and curious boy who brings a touch of humor to the story of Layton. According to Hino, Layton is partly inspired by the character of Phoenix Wright of the Ace Attorney series. Wanting to improve over what he saw as "bad points" in Phoenix's character, he developed Professor Layton.
- Professor Layton and the Curious Village (レイトン教授と不思議な町)
- Professor Layton and the Diabolical Box/Pandora's Box (レイトン教授と悪魔の箱)
- Professor Layton and the Unwound Future/Lost Future (レイトン教授と最後の時間旅行)
- Professor Layton and the Last Specter/Spectre's Call (レイトン教授と魔神の笛)
- Professor Layton and the Miracle Mask (レイトン教授と奇跡の仮面)
- Layton Brothers: Mystery Room (レイトンブラザーズ・ミステリールーム)
- Professor Layton vs. Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney (レイトン教授VS逆転裁判 )
- Professor Layton and the Azran Legacy (レイトン教授と超文明Aの遺産)
- Layton's Mystery Journey: Katrielle and the Millionaire's Conspiracy (レイトン ミステリージャーニー カトリーエイルと大富豪の陰謀)
Japanese audiences have also received several revisions of previously released games. Both Curious Village and Diabolical Box were afforded a "Friendly Version", in which all weekly puzzles were unlocked and furigana added. Diabolical Box was also included in the "Level-5 Premium Silver" and "Gold" collections on Nintendo DS alongside another Level-5 game, Inazuma Eleven. Miracle Mask also received a "Plus" edition, featuring both mechanical improvements already seen in the international releases as well as exclusive puzzles and cutscenes. An enhanced mobile port of Curious Village featuring additional cutscenes, subtitled "HD for Mobile", has also been released, while Layton's Mystery Journey DX, an enhanced Nintendo Switch port boasting new puzzles, exclusive costumes, and all previous DLC, was released on August 9, 2018.
The games employ an integrated structure of adventure-style exploration and dialogue and regular story-prompted puzzle solving. The player (as Professor Layton, Luke and other characters) explores their environment in a point-and-click adventure game fashion by using the touch screen to talk with non-player characters, learn more about the environment, move between different areas, or to find hint coins that are used during puzzles. Often, when interacting with a person or object, the player will be presented with a puzzle, valued at a number of "picarats", a type of currency within the game. Solving the puzzle correctly will earn the player that many picarats, but a wrong answer will reduce the value a small amount on subsequent attempts down to a minimal picarat number. In order to progress the plot, the player is required to solve specific puzzles, or to solve a minimum number of puzzles. If the player permanently leaves an area or otherwise significantly progresses the plot, puzzles they have yet to find and/or solve are regularly compiled and placed into a collection, often in the form of a "Puzzle Shack" owned by a character known as "Granny Riddleton", or with the aforementioned Riddleton’s cat, "Keats", which they can return to and attempt to resolve later. Curious Village contains a total of 135 regular puzzles, while Diabolical Box contains 153, Unwound Future 168 (the latter two having another special puzzle obtained via the use of codes found in the previous game), Last Specter 170, Miracle Mask 150, Azran Legacy 165, and Mystery Journey 185.
The puzzles take the form of brain teasers and are only loosely tied to the plot. All puzzles for the first six games were created by Akira Tago, who is famous for his best-selling Mental Gymnastics series. They take the form of math problems, logic puzzles, mazes, sliding-block puzzles, and various forms of brain teaser. The games give the player the opportunity to bring up a translucent memo screen they can write on using the stylus to work out their answer before submission. If the player is stuck, they may spend one hint coin to receive a hint. Each puzzle has three hints available, and from Unwound Future onwards, the games feature "super hints" that nearly solve the puzzle for the player but which can only be bought with two hint coins and after the three other hints have been revealed. The puzzles are not timed, though for puzzles such as mazes or sliding blocks, the player may be challenged to complete the puzzle in a limited number of moves.
Each game features an additional set of three unique meta-puzzle minigames that can be accessed at any time through "Layton's Trunk". These minigames generally require the player to complete specific puzzles in the game to receive items and/or challenges within the minigame. For example, as a reward for some puzzles, Curious Village gives the player furniture which then must be placed within a set of apartments to Layton's and Luke's exacting desires; the minigame cannot be completed until all the furniture has been collected. Completing the story and minigames also unlocks a series of especially difficult puzzles, known as "Layton's Challenges". Until its cancellation in 2014, players of the four DS games could use the Nintendo Wi-Fi Connection service to connect to the internet and access a "weekly puzzle" service, whereby they could download a new puzzle each week for a set period after each game's release, while the mainline 3DS games feature a year-long daily puzzle service via the Nintendo Network.
Setting and characters
While the series' protagonists are all based in and around contemporary London, each story features one or more original locales, each with their own unique aesthetic and local population.
- Professor Hershel Layton (エルシャール・レイトン Erushāru Reiton) is the title character and protagonist of the series. He is a stereotypical English gentleman, who enjoys solving puzzles and drinking tea. He is a professor of archeology at London's Gressenheller University. Because of his prowess at solving puzzles and mysteries, he is well known throughout London. He wears a black top hat, along with an orange shirt under a black high-collared coat with matching pants. As he became a professor at age 27, and is 34 in The Last Specter, he is around 37 years of age in the first trilogy. Katrielle Layton would later become his adoptive daughter, who he had guardianship over before he later disappeared; "10 years ago" before the present day of the anime. Layton is voiced by Yo Oizumi in Japanese and Christopher Robin Miller in English.
- Luke Triton (ルーク・トライトン Rūku Toraiton) is a young boy who accompanies the Professor on his investigations. Though he aspires to be a gentleman just like his mentor, his intelligence belies his age, and he can be hasty in his judgement and prone to let a cheeky remark slip out. He is fond of puzzles, teddy bears, and the color blue, and exhibits the ability to understand and converse with animals, as well as an appetite he can never seem to quench. While he consistently wears a sweater and unfastened suspenders throughout the first trilogy, he wears his suspenders fastened in Last Specter and Eternal Diva, adds a buttoned vest in Miracle Mask, and swaps it for an open cardigan in Azran Legacy. He is confirmed 12 years of age in Curious Village and Azran Legacy, 10 in Last Specter, 11 in Miracle Mask, around 12-14 in Unwound Future, and around 33-35 by his return in the anime as a fully grown adult. Layton is an old friend of Luke's father, Clark. After his return as an adult in the anime, he is revealed to have a partner; Marina, who he met in college while studying abroad. Luke and Marina often went on adventures together similar to the ones Luke went on with Layton in the past. However, upon initially reuniting with Layton, the two would then disappear; Layton noted missing since 10 years ago; an unknown amount of time passing since. Luke is voiced by Maki Horikita in Japanese, Lani Minella in US English and Maria Darling in other English-speaking territories.
- Flora Reinhold (アロマ・ラインフォード Aroma Rainfōdo, Aroma Reinford in Japanese version) is the orphaned daughter of the wealthy Augustus Reinhold and his wife, Viola. After the events of Curious Village, she "self-proclaims" herself Layton's "bride candidate" (changed to "follower" in Western adaptations; also "protege") and she follows him and Luke, occasionally joining them on their investigations. She also loves to cook, but, to Layton and Luke's dismay, cannot cook well at all (though improves slightly as of Unwound Future). Her official age is never given, but due to the aforementioned "bride candidate" status, one can assume she is of "marrying age", or very close to it (however, it is unknown if this would be "marrying age" in the United Kingdom, Japan, or otherwise). Despite this, she is also commonly referred to as a "woman" (also instead of "young woman") in Japanese editions and promotions. Flora is voiced by Mamiko Noto in Japanese and Lani Minella in English.
- Emmeline "Emmy" Altava (レミ・アルタワ Remi Arutawa, Remi Altava in Japanese version) is Professor Layton's assistant as appointed by the President of Gressenheller University and one of the main characters of the prequel trilogy and movie. She loves photography, taking her camera everywhere she goes, and demonstrates impressive martial arts skills. However, she had some hidden secrets of her own, which would come to be revealed in Azran Legacy, where her past is detailed. After breaking away from said circumstances of her past, she later becomes a cameraman for the World Times, also travelling the world and now living "proudly" as a "normal girl". She is officially 34 years old in Last Specter, making her around 36 in Azran Legacy. The Japanese website for Last Specter also describes her with the phrase "アジア系の美女" (lit. "an Asian beauty" or "an Asian descent beauty"), implying her to be of half-Asian descent. Emmy is voiced by Saki Aibu in Japanese and Lani Minella in English. Emma Tate voices her in Eternal Diva.
- Clive (Klaus Albatross), also known as "Future Luke", makes his debut in Unwound Future. He claims to be Luke Triton himself from 10 years into the future; however, the larger mystery surrounding him begins to unravel. Throughout the game, "Future Luke" joins Professor Layton, Luke Triton, and Flora Reinhold, as the group travels through the mysterious "Future London" to stop who "Future Luke" claims to be Professor Layton himself, seemingly gone evil.
- Katrielle Layton is Professor Layton's adoptive daughter, who makes her debut in Layton's Mystery Journey and the anime Layton's Mystery Detective Agency: Kat's Mystery-Solving Files. She is confirmed by the game and anime to be 21 years of age. She has a liking of sweets. After meeting the "talking" dog, later named "Sherl", Katrielle begins to solve mysteries at her agency, and begins to search for her missing adoptive father, Professor Layton, who disappeared 10 years before the series began. Her assistant (and friend) is 19-year-old Ernest Greeves, and her "rival" (later, also friend) is Emiliana Perfetti.
- Don Paolo (ドン・ポール Don Pōru), Layton's self-declared nemesis and a recurring antagonist in the original trilogy, is a brilliant scientist and inventor banished from the scientific community (and the "society of scholars", as noted by "The World of Professor Layton") for performing unethical experiments. A mechanical genius and master of disguise, Paolo was in fact a fellow student of Layton's at Gressenheller University, and his unrequited love for Layton's then-girlfriend Claire Foley caused his hatred for the professor. When he is not plotting evil, Don Paolo enjoys making and listening to music. Paolo is voiced by Minoru Inaba in Japanese and Christopher Robin Miller in English.
- Jean Descole (ジャン・デスコール Jan Desukōru), a masked scientist and archaeologist, is a recurring antagonist in the prequel series. In each of his appearances, he competes against Layton, and later with a crooked archaeology organization called Targent, in search of historic sites connected to the ancient civilization of the Azran. Like Don Paolo, he is also a master of disguise and even spends most of Azran Legacy hiding as peaceable archaeologist Desmond Sycamore to deceive Layton. He is secretly Layton's long-lost older brother, who gave him the name Hershel after their father was abducted by Targent and before the brothers were adopted by separate families. As a result, Descole's ultimate goal is to revenge himself on Targent for destroying his family. Descole is voiced by Atsuro Watabe in Japanese and Walter Rego in English. Jonathan Keeble voices him in Eternal Diva.
- Inspector Chelmey (チェルミー警部 Cherumī Keibu) is a shrewd detective with London's Scotland Yard, reputable for striking fear into the hearts of London criminals, even though that fear seems to be misplaced. Despite this, it seems that Layton and Luke always manage to be one step ahead of the inspector. When not working, he enjoys his wife's cooking (in the European releases of the games, his favourite food is cakes, while elsewhere it is sweet potato fritters). Chelmey's assistant, Constable Barton, is a timid man prone to making mistakes, though he often complements Chelmey’s investigative style and has covered up for some of Chelmey's oversights in the past. By the time of Mystery Room, he had been promoted to Commissioner. Chelmey is voiced by Shiro Saito in Japanese and Christopher Robin Miller in English.
- Inspector Clamp Grosky (クランプ・グロスキー Kuranpu Gurosukī) is a police inspector from Scotland Yard who plays a role in the prequels similar to Chelmey's in the first. The energetic Grosky has a fiery passion for mysteries that require his expertise and is also very athletic, apparently able to run faster than cars and swim faster than sharks. His most distinguishing features are his chest hair and his pompadour hairstyle. He also has a younger sister named Amelie who goes on to marry Chelmey, making Chelmey Grosky's brother-in-law. Grosky is voiced by Houchu Ohtsuka. Stuart Organ voices him in Eternal Diva.
- Granny Riddleton (ナゾーバ Nazōba), self-described clairvoyant, is a recurring character throughout the entire series, first appearing chronologically in a cameo in Last Specter. Most characters view her as a witch, presumably due to her pointed hat and distinctive laugh. She gathers all the puzzles players could potentially miss as they progress through the games, storing them in a small hut to solve later. In the prequel games where she does not perform her regular function, Riddleton's pet cat, Keats, appears in her place while she holidays. In Miracle Mask, however, she appears wearing thick eyeglasses and calls herself "Nana Grams" (a portmanteau of "nana" and "anagrams")/"Elizabeth". In Unwound Future, she retires, and is soon succeeded, after a brief intermediary period where she is supplemented by a talking bee named Beasley, by her granddaughter, Puzzlette. Riddleton is seen enjoying her retired life in Layton's Mystery Journey.
Each set of games and media (original, prequel, sequel) feature narrative threads connecting the stories together, but only the prequel series of Last Specter, Eternal Diva, Miracle Mask and Azran Legacy features a plot-important arc. Other games and media in the Professor Layton series do not have any overarching structure, but do follow a chronological order through the appearance and development of recurring characters.
- Professor Layton and the Curious Village: The first game in the series, released for the Nintendo DS in Japan on February 15, 2007, and localized elsewhere during 2008. Professor Hershel Layton and his young apprentice Luke Triton are invited to the remote village of St. Mystere by the family of late Baron Augustus Reinhold to figure out the secret behind his last will and testament, in which he stated that anyone who found the Golden Apple hidden within the town would be entitled to his entire fortune. Upon entering the town, it is clear to both of them that the curious village holds many more secrets than they had expected. They encounter 138 puzzles in their pursuit of the truth behind St. Mystere.
- Professor Layton and the Diabolical Box: The second game in the series, released for the DS in Japan on November 29, 2007, and localized elsewhere during 2009. It is known in PAL regions as Professor Layton and Pandora's Box. The story begins with the Professor and Luke receiving a letter from Layton's old mentor, Dr. Schrader, detailing his procuring of the Elysian Box, a chest rumored to kill anyone who tried to open it. Fearing for his safety, the pair visit Schrader's apartment, where they find him lying on the floor, dead, with the box nowhere to be found. The only clue left behind is a train ticket for the high-class Molentary Express with no discernible destination, which sets the duo on a journey to discover the truth behind the fate of Dr. Schrader, and the whereabouts of his diabolical box. During their search, they are faced with 153 additional puzzles. The Japanese release featured an exclusive prologue, Professor Layton and the Holiday of London (レイトン教授とロンドンの休日), including twelve puzzles, several of which are from the first game, and a short storyline set in Professor Layton's London office, in which he reminisces about his previous adventures around the world.
- Professor Layton and the Unwound Future: The third game in the series and final part of the original trilogy, released for the DS in Japan on November 27, 2008, and localized elsewhere during 2010. It is known in PAL regions as Professor Layton and the Lost Future. The game starts with Luke and Layton in conversation over the former's receiving of a letter purportedly sent by himself, ten years into the future, only a week after an accident in which Dr. Stahngun's failed demonstration of a time machine caused himself and the Prime Minister to vanish. Luke and Layton travel to a desolate part of town to investigate a clock shop as directed, but upon walking out, find themselves to have been thrust forward into the future London, ten years from then. In their efforts to find the truth of their unwound future, they are challenged to solve 168 new puzzles, and to remember a forgotten past. This game is currently the last game in the series to feature the Professor, chronologically.
- Professor Layton and the Last Specter: The fourth game in the series and first instalment of the prequel trilogy was released for the DS in Japan on November 26, 2009, and elsewhere in 2011. It is known in Europe as Professor Layton and the Spectre's Call, and is, chronologically, the first game in the series. Layton is called by Clark Triton, an old friend, to the mysterious, foggy town of Misthallery, where legends exist of a great, shadowy giant who protects the region whenever a special flute is played to summon it. Recently, however, the "specter" has seemingly turned against the village, becoming violent and destructive, and it is up to the Professor, a young boy of the village named Luke who can predict its appearance, and Layton's new assistant, Emmy Altava, to figure out why. Together, they investigate the incidents and unearth the town's history, whilst attempting to solve another 170 puzzles. In Australasia, North America and Japan, the game also includes an RPG called Professor Layton's London Life, which was co-developed by Brownie Brown. It was excluded from the European version due to "time constraints" surrounding translation.
- Professor Layton and the Miracle Mask: The fifth game in the series, released as a launch title for the Nintendo 3DS on February 26, 2011 in Japan, releasing in Europe and Australasia on October 26, 2012, and in North America on the October 28, 2012, and taking place after Eternal Diva chronologically. Professor Layton, Luke, and Emmy travel to the city of Monte d'Or in search of clues to the meaning behind the Masked Gentleman, a mysterious figure who has wrought chaos upon the city with so-called "miracles" attributed to the seemingly magical powers of a mask said to have created Monte d’Or. Professor Layton is forced to recall his past in order to uncover the secret of the mask in the present. The truth is hidden deep within the Miracle Mask. The game featured a continuous daily puzzle service available through the Nintendo Network via SpotPass for a full year.
- Professor Layton and the Azran Legacy: The sixth game and conclusion of the prequel trilogy, taking place after the planned second film chronologically, in which the Professor, Luke and Emmy face off against an organisation known as Targent who are in search of the relics of an ancient civilisation possessed of powers far beyond anything seen in the present. In a Nintendo Direct presentation on August 29, 2012, it was revealed by Level 5 CEO Akihiro Hino to be the final Layton title to star the Professor himself as the protagonist. It was released for the 3DS in Japan on February 28, 2013, Europe on November 8, 2013, and North America on February 28, 2014.
- Layton's Mystery Journey: Katrielle and the Millionaire's Conspiracy: The seventh entry in the main Layton series follows a new protagonist, Katrielle Layton, who establishes the Layton Detective Agency in the hope of locating her missing father, the Professor. The game was released worldwide for mobile devices and on 3DS in Japan on July 20, 2017, with the North American/European 3DS release on October 6, 2017.
- Layton Brothers: Mystery Room: A mobile spin-off game featuring Alfendi Layton, son of Professor Layton, and his assistant, Lucy Baker, as a crime-solving duo based at Scotland Yard. It was released on the iOS App Store on September 21, 2012 in Japan, and on June 27, 2013 in Australia, Europe and North America, and received a worldwide September 9, 2013, release for Android systems. It marked Level-5's first foray into iOS games.
- Professor Layton vs. Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney: Announced on October 19, 2010 at Level-5's annual vision event, this game was a cooperative project between Level-5 and Capcom, and a crossover between the Professor Layton and Ace Attorney series. In it, Professor Layton, Luke, Phoenix Wright, and Maya Fey find themselves in a medieval world separate from their own, known as Labyrinthia. This world is controlled by a man known as the Storyteller, who can make anything he writes down a reality. The land also speaks tales of witches, who hide in the shadows. It was released in Japan for the Nintendo 3DS on 29 November 2012, in Europe on 28 March 2014, a day later in Australia, and on 29 August 2014 in North America.
Level-5 have confirmed that another entry in the Layton series is planned, originally for late summer 2018 , although at the moment there have been no more news about new games or launch dates.
A feature-length anime film, titled Professor Layton and the Eternal Diva, was produced by Masakazu Kubo, mainly known for producing the Pokémon films, and animated by P.A. Works, the same company that developed the animated cutscenes for the initial six games. It contains an original story which takes place between the events of Last Specter and Miracle Mask chronologically. The film was released in Japanese theaters on December 19, 2009, and was a general success both there and in Singapore where it was also released. Manga Entertainment released a full English dub of the film on home video in the United Kingdom on October 18, 2010, while Viz Media released it in North America on November 8, 2011.
An anime television series based on the characters of Layton's Mystery Journey: Katrielle and the Millionaire's Conspiracy, titled Layton Mystery Tanteisha: Katori no Nazotoki File, began airing in Japan on April 8, 2018. The series is directed by Susumu Mitsunaka at Liden Films, with creative direction by Akihiro Hino and character design by Yoko Takada, and will consist of 50 episodes.
Humour manga intended for child audiences was first serialized in February 2008 in the special edition of Bessatsu CoroCoro Comic. The series has since ended. The title of this manga is Professor Layton and the Cheerful Mystery (レイトン教授とユカイな事件 Reiton-kyōju to yukai na jiken), covering many mysteries in the story. Several chapters are based on the games; most of the others are original stories with little relation to the game canon. The chapters also included puzzles for the readers to solve. The series was collected into four volumes, with the final volumes coming out in June 2012. Tokyopop has released all four volumes in German under the name Professor Layton und seine lustigen Fälle. The series has also been released in Spanish under the name El Professor Layton y sus Divertidos Misterios by Norma Editorial, in French as Professeur Layton et l'étrange enquête by Kazé Manga and in Italian as Il professor Layton e i misteri buffi by Planet Manga.
Three books based on the Professor Layton series were also made, though they are still in Japan only. They consist of Professor Layton and the Wandering Castle in 2008, Professor Layton and the Phantom Deity in 2009, and Professor Layton and the Illusory Forest in 2010.
The Professor Layton series has been generally successful in the UK, the US, and Japan. Professor Layton and the Curious Village sold over 700,000 units in Japan in 2007. The game was also the top selling game for the Nintendo DS in the United States in the first three weeks after its release. After it was restocked in the UK, sales of Professor Layton increased 54%, moving it from 10th place to fourth place.
Curious Village received generally positive reviews from critics. On the review aggregator Game Rankings, the game had an average score of 86% based on 48 reviews. On Metacritic, the game had an average score of 85/100, based on 57 reviews. The combination of the adventure game and "brain training" genres received mixed appreciation. Some reviewers praised the game for the successful combination with 1UP commenting on how the game's approach is much better than games where the puzzles were integrated into the environment. Other reviewers felt that these two genres do not merge well within the game; Game Informer noted that while the player is given numerous small puzzles to solve, the mysteries of the main plot are basically solved for the player. The game was noted to have little replay value; once all the puzzles were solved, there was no point in playing through them again. The presentation of the game, including both the general European animation style and cutscene animations, was appreciated by reviewers. Hyper's Darren Wells commends the game for its "clever concept, with plenty to solve and unlock as well as its fantastic presentation". However, he criticizes "some puzzles feeling tacked on and the music can get annoying".
Professor Layton and the Diabolical Box was considered to be a major improvement from the original. In Japan, the game has sold 815,369 copies, according to Famitsu, as of July 9, 2008. The UK's Official Nintendo Magazine awarded the game a score of 92% (and consequently their Gold Award medal), praising the increased number of puzzles, animated scenes and voice acting, but complained that it could be slightly repetitive at times. IGN gave the game a score of 8.5 and also their Editor's Choice Award.
The series was popular enough to have a movie called Professor Layton and the Eternal Diva made. It has been released in Japan, Singapore, France, Germany, the UK, Spain, America and Canada. It received positive reviews from the first six countries, but has not yet been talked about in reviews in America and Canada. It was released in the UK on the 18th of October, with a full English dub.
The series has gone on to be one of the most successful Nintendo DS exclusive series, with the lifetime cumulative sales of Professor Layton games standing at 10 million units sold as of October 2010. Level-5 reported 11.47 million unit sales worldwide for the franchise ahead of the release of Professor Layton and the Miracle Mask in February 2011, and over 13 million copies sold in March 2012. In August 2013, Level-5 reported 15 million unit sales worldwide, making it the company’s best-selling game franchises. The series had shipped over 17 million units by June 2018.
- Known in Japan as Reiton-kyōju (レイトン教授)
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