The first 3D Final Fantasy was released for PlayStation in January 1997 in Japan and September 1997 in North America. You start out fighting against Shinra, an evil electric company, with a party that includes a black man with a gun on his arm (totally not a stereotype), a cat riding a stuffed moogle, and a quiet guy with gravity-defying hair (and an even more gravity-defying sword). Final Fantasy VII eventually turns into a fight against some pretty boy who wants to rule the world by destroying it with a giant meteor. Why are the pretty ones always insane?
Best time, PC version: 7:41 by Andrew 'Farringa' Farrington on 2007-06-04, done in 85 segments.
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I had been watching speed runs on SDA for quite some time. I enjoyed watching runs of games I had played, and one day I thought, "Hey, I wonder if there is a Final Fantasy VII Speed Run." To my disapointment, there wasn't. However, there was a topic on it, and I created an account, just so that I could encourage anyone who wanted to do one. This is how I came across GarlandG. I followed the Speed Run Discussions on GameFAQs for quite some time, before I decided to make an account there too, so that I could try and help progress the run in any way I could. I even decided I would use the FAQ that GarlandG had made, and make a speed run, in order to check the FAQ for errors, and test the strategies, as well as for my own personal enjoyment.
And that's how I began this project. I decided I would follow the FAQ's strategies, and try to do the run as quickly as possible, while saving more often, so that the run would take less time to complete, but would still give a relatively accurate display of the game being pushed to its limits. I started recording it so that I would have proof of my accomplishments, as well as give me something to watch later, and brag to my friends about.
But just before Cosmo Canyon, something funny happened. After realizing it would be a long time yet before GarlandG's run is completed (at the time of completion, GarlandG is on the second segment), even though I had been waiting for the start of the run since May, 2006. I realized, that a lot of others were still waiting to see a run of this game on SDA, and here I was, doing a run, and recording it as well. I decided that I would try to have my run posted on SDA, so that all those fans waiting for GarlandG's run would have something to watch. After that, I put much more effort into the run, and began working on the run much more frequently. I'm glad I did.
If I had it to do over again, I would have started the run with the tenacity that I finished it with. With that said, I am extremely proud of what I have accomplished. In all honesty, I am not sure how much faster I could have gone. This run is far from perfect, but most of the imperfections are masked by the enormous amount of luck involved in the running of this game. I may run a segment perfectly, doing everything humanly possible correctly, and still achieve a slower time, because of something seemingly insignificant, like the number of times I am attacked in random encounters, or the length of the animations for the attacks used. Luck plays a huge factor in each and every segment. I assure you the segments I kept were the fastest I was able to get, while still keeping my sanity.
Also, please be aware that this run was made using the PC version of Final Fantasy VII. There are some very peculiar differences between the PC version and the Playstation version of the game. If something I do in the run seems weird, and you ask yourself, "Why on Earth did he go out of his way there?" or something to that affect, check the In-Depth Comments for that segment. It probably has something to do with the PC version of the game.
First and foremost, I would like to thank GarlandG. Nearly every strategy I used was taken directly from GarlandG's FAQ on GameFAQs. You can find the FAQ here:
GarlandG's Speed Run FAQ: http://www.gamefaqs.com/console/psx/file/197341/31141
This run was originally only planned to find mistakes in the FAQ, so that when GarlandG made his run, he would not run into the problems I did. I'm glad I was able to help, and I can't wait to see GarlandG's run of this game.
Lolo26 deserves his own section as well. When I had a question about anything, he was the first person I asked. Always helpful and encouraging. He was a major developer of the strategies used in the FAQ as well.
I would also like to thank:
Thank you all.
IV. In-Depth Comments
On to the more detailed comments. Most of the reasoning for the things I do can be found in GarlandG's FAQ on GameFAQs. But I will elaborate on some of the things I feel the FAQ doesn't go in-depth on, and also point out some of the reasoning for things I do in the run, as well as any mistakes I made. I will also give a general outline of the strategies used in major battles, so that if you don't want to go look at the FAQ, you don't have to. I've divided the sections up the way GarlandG has in the guide, to make it easier to follow, as well as by segment.
-- The First Mission --
First battle went as fast as possible. I renamed Cloud to Andrew... at the time I wasn't considering sending the run to SDA, and I figured it would be more personal if the main character and I shared a name. Also a way to prove to my friends I was the one making the videos. I make a slight bobble before saving, but I had had enough of the opening FMV.
Ah, Guard Scorpion. The strategy for Air Buster requires both Cloud and Barret use Limit Breaks, which means I need to finish the Guard Scorpion battle with both having limit breaks. Cloud doesn't completely get his limit, but he gets it in the 3rd Segment, on the way out of the reactor.
-- The Aftermath --
It took some luck to keep Cloud alive, and get his limit in the process. Running to talk to Jessie in the train was a part that caused me to restart a lot, as you have to be careful not to go too far and provoke the conductor, but you have to go far enough to talk to Jessie, and not Wedge. I saved in the sector 7 Slums because I hated that part.
I saved earlier than the FAQ, because I didn't want to have to go through the memories again. I know, lazy, but again, at this point I wasn't thinking about submitting the run.
-- The Second Mission --
Getting the High-Potion from the man on the train wasn't mentioned in the FAQ... cost me a couple seconds, as I had to pick up the one in the Train Graveyard instead. Note that if I were following the FAQ exactly, this is where I would have saved for the second time.
Short segment. I save to keep from having to hit the buttons again. If I had it to do over again, I wouldn't save here, but oh well.
-- Back to the Slums --
The strategy for Air Buster is pretty self explanatory. I saved earlier than the FAQ, because I didn't want to have to play the church scene again. I probably wouldn't have saved here, had I known I was sending in the run at the time, but oh well.
Pretty short segment, and pretty self explanatory.
Another pretty short segment. I save here because the Wall Market segment is pretty difficult, and I wanted to be close so that I wouldn't have to wait too long to try again.
-- Wall Market --
Its 30 seconds faster to have Don Corneo choose Cloud for his date, than it is to go through the battles, and not have to get more than the minimum items. This is just going through and getting the fewest items needed for Corneo to choose Cloud.
It may not look like it, but I must have had to restart 30 or so times doing this segment, because I got caught on those stairs in Don Corneo's Mansion just after entering. I made a slight running mistake in the sewers.
-- Slums Revisited --
Saving here eliminates the first random encounter on the way up, making it a time saver to save.
It actually takes more time to break Cloud out of the pyramid than to just leave him in it.
Just have to get through Elmyra's flashback. I saved here because I was sick of watching it.
Watching the run now, while I do the comments on it, I just said to myself, "Really, Andrew? You saved here too?" That would have never happened, if I had known I was submitting the run.
I make a slight bobble climbing down a cord, but the rest of the segment went splendidly, so I kept it.
-- Shinra Headquarters --
For the battle with the 3 Grunts at the top of the stairs, apparently you can use the wait trick, and save big time, but it wasn't in the FAQ when I went through. Also in the FAQ, it describes being able to get through the statue area much quicker than I did, but I'm not sure how. I feel like I went at the earliest possible moment each time. The single book I read, is because it is the only book that is unique to each of the four possible passwords, and the Elemental Materia is needed for the run. I made 3 minor running mistakes, but nothing too major, especially for this long and difficult of a segment.
In this battle, I needed to make sure Cloud had a limit break afterwards, and that no one died. It was extremely difficult, and took a ton of restarts. As you can see, I started slowing down my movements at the end of the segment, because I thought it was another failure, but I got very lucky before the last two grenades. I saved to keep from having to do it again.
Pretty boring segment, but you get to see me run around in circles during the talking.
Two really close calls in this segment. First, Aeris is put to sleep, but Heli-Gunner's next attack wakes her up, so it didn't waste any time. The other is the fight with Rufus. You probably didn't notice, but I was trying to be too fast after the battle with Rufus, and hit cancel in the item collection screen. This caused me to not get the items from the battle. I didn't notice this until I got to Corel, and needed to sell them. Luckily, as you'll see in that segment, after I buy the Gold Saucer ticket, I'm left with a paltry 7 Gil.
The red bikes avoid your swings, so the goal is to get three red bikes behind you, and then just keep swinging, and they will never get near you. I knocked out a few red bikes on accident though. Oh well, it's not like it cost any time. It's also interesting to note that I finished the battle with Roller Ball using my very last grenade.
-- The First Continent --
First half of a really boring segment. Looking back, I shouldn't have attacked the dragon, but at the time, I did it to show the relative weakness of Cloud to Sephiroth. It didn't waste much time though. That, and the save in the middle of the flashback would both be things that wouldn't happen if I had known I were sending in the run. Neither is that big of a deal though... They don't waste much time.
This is the harder half of the Kalm flashback, and why I saved in the middle. I was sick of having to watch all 20 minutes of this, just to restart.
Short segment. I save to avoid a random encounter on the World Map. You'll see this a lot. I also use the opportunity to make some equipment changes. Equipment changes are almost always at the end of segments, so that you don't waste time opening the menu unnecessarily.
I restarted and restarted until I got lucky enough to get across in one segment. I have problem getting up the root, but it took so long to get across the Marsh that I didn't mind too much.
Saved to avoid a random encounter.
-- Junon --
Quick shopping segment. I didn't want to have to shop every time I had to do the battle with Bottom Swell, so I made a save after the shopping spree. I wouldn't do that now, but that was my reasoning at the time.
Battle with Bottomswell. Then I have to save Priscilla. She needs 41 breaths to revive, so I use the 9-9-9-9-5 technique. I make a couple fumbles running around in the house, nothing too major though.
The quickest way up to the top is to just blow the whistle twice. I save here before the marching, because the marching is hard.
The 5000 Gil was needed. I get warmed up in the locker room, because I had a lot of time off, just click the action button, so I needed a little practice before the real thing. I need the President's Mood to be between 60 and 90, so I just goof around, and make sure it's between 60 and 90 at the end, so I get the HP Plus Materia.
This is the segment is just going to each of the characters and talking to them.
Jenova-BIRTH. If the second stop had missed, I would have defeated her without JB getting in the last two Lasers... so it would have saved 3-5 seconds.
-- The Second Continent --
Saved to avoid a random encounter.
Now, in this segment, I'm supposed to get in a battle with two bombs on the bridge, and steal two Right Arms from them. However, in the PC Version, the random encounters aren't random. I always got the same battle on the bridge... So I had to figure out another way to get all 5 Right Arms quickly.
I found that there were always 2 bombs on the second battle. I got 2 right arms in 2 attempts, so I saved, as there is about a 1% chance of this happening.
Now I finally go the rest of the way across the train tracks. It was very rare to have Red XIII survive this segment. This segment shows how tough it is to get those stupid Right Arms. But since I got 2 in 2 attempts on the previous segment, I was a little more lenient with stealing them in this one. If I had known I was sending it in, I wouldn't have been.
I save so that I don't have to buy things every time I did the Gold Saucer segment. Do I need to say "I wouldn't have done this if I knew I was sending it in," again?
Not really a whole lot too this segment, as far as difficulty. I save with 7 Gil. I barely made it.
This segment is just the second half of the Corel flashback. I save because the save point is close, and I didn't want to watch the FMV any more. I regret saving here.
Battle with Dyne went perfectly. You can see the power of the Right Arms, and why they are worth the trouble of getting. You can't end the Chocobo Race until someone places second. Also, for some reason, sometimes when you are in the buggy, the action sound get high pitched. It happened at the end of this segment.
Almost every time I went through the forests here, my battle was with Yuffie. Too bad it's a waste of time to see her. Saved to avoid a random encounter.
Saved to avoid a random encounter.
-- Cosmo Canyon --
While working on this segment, I was comparing my times to Lolo26's times for his PC Final Fantasy VII Speed Run, and I noticed that he was only slightly faster. I realized I was doing a lot better than I thought I was, so I decided I would try and get the run posted on SDA. So from here on out, I buckled down, and really tried to do my best on every segment. It stopped being a project for testing purposes, and personal satisfaction, but a project to break records.
This segment itself is one of the most annoying in the game, I think. It's 6 and a half minutes of text skipping, and I had to redo it way more than I thought I would have to. That's why I ended up breaking it in to two segments, right before the campfire sequence. You practically have to run through the save point anyway, so it didn't seem like such a bad idea at the time. This is the last of those "Wish I Hadn't" saves.
Second half of one of the most annoying segments in the game. Saved to avoid a random encounter, and to keep from killing myself during the next segment.
This is was the hardest segment of the run, at the time. I have to run around in the first area with the lava, because of the random encounter problem of the PC game. The second battle was always with 3 x Sneaky Steps, which I needed to learn Death Sentence from, so I needed to run around a little extra to make sure I got that battle in this area. One of the Sneaky Steps had to cast Death Sentence on Tifa, and then I also needed to win at least 1 M-Tentacles from the battle. The M-Tentacles is then used against Stinger #1. For whatever reason, the Stingers don't counterattack with Sting Bomb when hit with an M-Tentacles. I got very lucky with the second Stinger deciding to attack Red XIII twice, as the other two got Sting Bombed, and wouldn't have been able to survive too many attacks. So many people ask why me why I don't use a Phoenix Down on Gi Nattak. To quote GarlandG's FAQ, "Throw an Elixir at him and the battle will be over. Phoenix Downs work as well, but there's a chance they'll miss. Elixirs never miss." With as much luck as this segment already requires, using a Phoenix Down is nutty. I saved immediately after the segment, because I did not want to get unlucky with the random encounters, and have to redo it.
Saved to avoid random encounter. Also some equipment changes are made.
-- Nibelheim & Mt. Nibel --
The FAQ currently says that Cait-Sith should get hurt a lot on this segment, so that he is close to his Limit, so that he can use it for Palmer. I either missed that part, or it wasn't there when I went through.
Probably the segment I spent the most time on. What happens is this: Materia Keeper has 8400 HP. Bio does 78 damage, and Tifa's attack does 21 damage. This leaves Materia Keeper with 8301 HP. Each poison deals 262 damage. He takes 2 from poison, dealing 524 damage, leaving him with 7777 HP. This is known as "lucky 7's" causing everything MK does to cause 7777 damage... including poison! So he dies instantly. I grab the Counter materia because one time, I got stuck on it, and I didn't want that to happen again. I spent probably 3 weeks on that segment.
Saved to avoid random encounter.
-- Rocket Town --
Shopping and plot line segment. I saved because the cutscene is so long and boring before Palmer, I didn't want to have to do this every time I had to fight him. This save, I do not regret. It saved my sanity.
This gun would have gone faster if Cait had his limit break, but not a whole lot faster, unless I got really lucky with the Dice. I didn't realize I needed him to have his limit until now, and there was no way I was redoing the Materia Keeper battle. This way wasn't much slower any way.
-- Before the Temple --
Saved to avoid a random encounter.
This Segment includes some shopping, the date, and Cait's betrayal. I saved at the end to avoid a random encounter.
I run around in a weird way because I have the PC version of the game. This was the pattern I found gave me the best chance at getting to fight 3 x Flapbeats. I spent nearly 5 man-hours trying to get this short segment right. I needed Cloud to have his Limit at the end of it, and I needed to get 2 T/S Bombs from the Flapbeats.
I stop by Gongaga to pick up the Deathblow materia. I save to avoid a random encounter. I know I was really close to the ship, but not once was I able to make it all the way there. I almost never made it as far as I did, actually. And if I did make it, I would have had to save in front of the Temple of the Ancients to avoid a random encounter any way.
-- The Temple of the Ancients --
Looking back on it, his is probably the segment I am the least happy with in the entire run. For as little luck as it requires, I make too many small mistakes in my opinion. None of them add up to much time, but it just doesn't feel like a very clean segment to me.
This is the first segment that utilizes the power of Tifa. When Tifa has the Powersoul, she does more damage when she is in danger. She does:
2x damage for being in critical health 4x damage for having Death Sentence on her 2x damage for Deathblow
This gives her 16x damage, making her quite powerful. The first attack must be Red Dragon Breath on Tifa, to put her in critical health. Then I cast Death Sentence on her, and use Deathblow, and use Cross Slash. This paralyzes Red Dragon, so that Tifa can attack twice more before Red Dragon gets to. I restarted until none of Tifa's Deathblows missed. It took me 5 hours to get this battle right, which is why I didn't restart when I made a slight fumble in the menu at the end of the segment (cost maybe ~1 second).
This is the battle with Demon's Gate. Demon's Gate must open the battle waving his arms, meaning that Demon Rush will be his next attack... that is unless I do enough damage to him. The segment really just involves trying to do enough damage to him, while staying alive. Interesting note, these are the only 2 Deathblows in the entire run that I allow to miss.
-- Bone Village & The Forgotten City --
The Lunar Harp is always in the same place, so you don't need to place any diggers to find it. The rest of the segment just involves not getting caught on anything, which happens a lot, as there are two fairly difficult running areas in this segment, especially in the area with the beds. I do make a running mistake, costing maybe 1/2 a second.
Sad segment. I throw the Molotov at Tifa in order to get her health into critical condition. I watched that FMV a lot, because I didn't want to let any Deathblows miss.
-- Adventures in the Snow --
Pretty simple segment.
Saved to avoid a random encounter. Also made some equipment changes.
Sorry about the quality of this segment. For some reason, Camtasia doesn't like when there is a lot of stuff going on, and this is the worst it gets. It's not too bad though. This segment was another one of those really annoying segments. Not only is there snowboarding, but I have to steal a Circlet from a Snow. First of all, the snowboarding. It went pretty well, though I suppose it could have gone better. I hit the walls in a few spots, though I don't fall over. It was 3 seconds slower than my fastest time, though, so I didn't mind too much. But the big reason I kept it was because I was able to steal the Circlet on my first attempt. The reason I had to run around until I got a battle with the Snow is because I have the PC version of the game. This was the worst affect it had on me... If I had the PS Version of the game, I would have just simply restarted until I got a battle with the Snow as the first battle in this area. Unfortunately, the battles are always the same for us PC users, and the Snow is the 3rd battle in this area. This wastes just about 1 minute, exactly.
-- Gaea's Cliff --
This segment took a lot of restarts. I need Cloud to have just about full health in order to be able to survive the Stilva using Magic Breath, so I need to make sure I am fully healed when he uses it. The Elixir is needed to refill Cloud's MP.
This was another one of the most annoying segments in the run. I spent a ton of time on this segment, and it was incredibly luck requiring. If any of the Evil Heads use Ultrasound on Cloud, Cloud becomes silenced, and I have to restart. As well, Demi misses quite often. Not to mention death is a distinct possibility, and must also be avoided. This is why I saved after this segment. I'm extremely glad I did, as I had to redo segment 66 when I learned Tifa needed to be in the front row for Schizo, and it wasn't in the FAQ. I would have died if I had to redo this as well.
This segment just involves getting to the save point before Schizo, and making the necessary equipment changes.
The battle with Schizo requires quite a bit of luck. I need the Ice Head to open with an attack on Tifa to put her in Critical Condition. Then I need to keep everyone alive, and at full health for the finishing attacks, and I restarted until Deathblow didn't miss. The caped guy at the bottom of the crater that you have to talk to, made me restart more than once. For some reason, sometimes I couldn't talk to him, even though I was running straight into him.
-- Whirlwind Maze --
I actually the battle with Jenova-DEATH was worse than the battle with Schizo. Though the battle is actually as difficult, or as luck requiring, it takes a lot longer to get to the battle. I decided after I had already defeated Schizo that I would use the "perfect tactic" against Jenova-DEATH, so I needed to switch to the Power Wrist before the battle, instead of at the end of the previous segment. Unfortunate, but I did not want to have to redo the segment with Schizo. This still saved me huge amounts of time.
-- The Time Without Cloud --
After 15 minutes of text skipping, I felt saving here was ok, especially because the next segment is 13 minutes.
For whatever reason, getting out of that chair is really hard on the PC version. I think it's because my keyboard is really sensitive, and it notices slight timing differences between two buttons, that I am trying to hit at the same time. So I found that if I just held the next buttons I need to push, while she is doing the previous action, I always mess up twice on the same animation, but at least it is consistent. It is also much better than I normally did, even if it isn't perfect. It only costs me a couple seconds to do it this way, versus if I had done it perfectly.
This segment involves both shopping, and equipment and materia changes, spread pretty far apart. The equipment changes I need to make, are some of the most drastic in the entire run, and it's very difficult to do quickly without screwing up.
I'm really bad at catching the other train. I don't know why I'm really bad at it, but sometimes, I feel like I am in a good rhythm, and I just don't catch it, and other times I feel like I've screwed up a lot, and I catch it quicker than normal. That seems to be the case here. This was only 2 seconds slower than the fastest I was able to catch it. Also, there was a pretty big problem with my game at this point. When trying to slow down the train, none of my keys would work. I ended up having to connect a joystick, in order to use the joystick keys to slow down the train. I have no idea why that happened, but the PC version of this game is wrought with problems.
This is the Fort Condor segment. Once you've placed a troop, you can place more troops just below them, up to a certain point. As well, when there are no enemies on the map, the mini-game ends instantly. This demonstrates a great way to exploit this, and achieve a quick victory.
To quote GarlandG's FAQ, the goal of the battle with Ultimate Weapon is to "Survive and steal a Cursed Ring." I restarted until that happened. Then there is a lot of text skipping, and following along enough to make sure I move to all the right places. At the end of the segment, is probably the most difficult equipment and materia changes in the run.
-- Junon Underwater Reactor --
This segment required a ton of restarts. I needed to win two S-Mines from the battles in and just outside of the elevator. This only happened once every 25 restarts or so. When that did happen, I had to make sure Tifa had the right amount of health, so that she could be in Critical Condition by Carry Armor. I found the "sweet spot" to be around 650 HP. I had two faster segments, one where she finished with 150 HP, and one with 880 HP, but neither one allowed me to be in the right range by Carry Armor as often as this one. The reason this attempt was slightly slower, is because of the stupid button in the underwater elevator. It's very difficult to press on the first try, and apparently I had just too much good luck, because I missed it 3 or 4 times, costing me 3 or 4 seconds.
This segment was also really difficult. This was one of only two times I successfully defeated Carry Armor without a Deathblow missing, and the first was a practice run. The very last battle of the segment, I should have used Trine first, and then had Tifa use Deathblow. It would have saved the Added Cut animation. But with as luck requiring as this segment was, I wasn't going to restart, just to have that Deathblow miss, killing the guard with Added Cut, making the times exactly the same.
This was the quickest I was able to destroy the sub. I was never able to get a 9:47. I don't know why the camera pauses for 13 seconds after the victory, but that happened every time.
-- Rocket Town & More --
I got extremely lucky on this segment. Normally, when doing this segment, I had Cloud use Trine to kill the enemies in the first two battles. But for some reason, spur of the moment like, I decided to use Deathblow. No Deathblows missed, even though I had been on a terrible string of missed Deathblows. In the second battle, no one even got to attack. I needed to use the two Molotovs to get Tifa in the right range to beat Rude in one hit. I had trouble landing the Highwind at the end of the segment, but I saved so much time using Deathblow, it didn't matter. This is also the reason I saved here, as I didn't want to lose the work I had done thus far.
Pretty long and boring segment, followed by some equipment changes, and then waiting for Diamond Weapon at the beach. I make a slight error during the changes, costing less than a second, but I have to wait for DW any way, so it didn't really cost any time.
Diamond Weapon has physical immunity, unless you use two limit breaks against him. I do tricks in the air to land in the area with the save point.
-- Return to Midgar --
I have Tifa attack herself in order to get her into the right HP range quickly. This took many more retries than you would think. Because the PC doesn't have random encounters, the screen always zoomed to the same angle, and I wasn't able to attack Tifa, unless Cait got pushed out of the way first. Then I discovered I could select her if I were running. That's why I run and then attack Tifa.
This segment took me over 6 hours to get right. 6 straight Deathblows need to connect, and there are two sets of equipment changes to get through. I screw up on the first set, accidentally hitting no to reset Cloud's limit, before quickly selecting yes. This cost me maybe 0.5 seconds. The battle with the Turks looks a little sloppy too, but it was as fast as it could have gone. I couldn't be happier with the battle with Proud Clod.
From this point forward, since Tifa has the Mystile, it's impossible for Deathblow to miss. Thats good news... That makes the battle with Hojo require almost no luck at all. However, I restarted quite a few times, any way, until I was satisfied with the results. Guess I'm just sick.
-- The Northern Crater --
I was able to get the earthquake animation and the chest opening animation to work at the same time, saving a couple seconds. The rest of the segment is just getting to the bottom as quickly as possible, and making the final save.
Humorously, I finished this segment in the morning, before I had to leave for work. I ended up being late to work, because I had to wait and stop the recording at the end of the credits. There were two luck requiring parts of this segment. Tifa needs to be critical by Jenova, and Shadowflare must miss.
And that does it. Thanks for watching! I hope you liked it.
Andrew "Farringa" Farrington
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