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Super Smash Bros. Melee

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Within Nintendo, we've had a lot of discussion about which of our most popular characters should be ready to appear in games when Nintendo GameCube comes to market. We think we've got a great answer.
Shigeru Miyamoto moments before the Melee trailer was unveiled to the public at E3 2001.
Super Smash Bros. Melee
SSBM JP Box.jpg
Developer(s) HAL Laboratory
Intelligent Systems
Publisher(s) Nintendo
Designer(s) Masahiro Sakurai
Released Japan November 21, 2001
North America December 3, 2001
Europe May 24, 2002
Australia May 31, 2002
South Korea December 14, 2002
Genre(s) Fighting game
Mode(s) Single-player, Multiplayer (2-4)
Ratings ESRB: T
ELSPA: 11+
ELSPA: 3+ (re-rating)
PEGI: 3+
Platform(s) Nintendo GameCube
Media GameCube Optical Disc
System requirements 11 blocks of memory (an additional 2 or more blocks are needed for each snapshot saved)
Input methods GameCube controller
"Melee" redirects here. For the game mode, see Versus Mode.

Super Smash Bros. Melee (大乱闘 スマッシュ ブラザーズ DX, Great Fray Smash Brothers Deluxe), often shortened to "SSBM" or "Melee" (スマブラDX), is the second installment in the Super Smash Bros. series published by Nintendo. The game released for GameCube on November 21st, 2001 in Japan, and December 3rd, 2001 in North America, shortly after GameCube's launch, and then on the following year in Europe and Australia on May 24th, 2002 and May 31st, 2002 respectively. The game was directed by Masahiro Sakurai and was primarily developed by HAL Laboratory.

Like its predecessor Super Smash Bros., Melee features gameplay unique from that of other fighting games. Compared to characters in other fighting games, Melee characters have simple movesets and lack complicated button inputs and lengthy natural combos. Instead, Melee emphasizes movement and ringouts. Indeed, edge-guarding in Melee takes on much more significance than it does in most other games due to copious mid-air jumps and other methods of reaching the edge unfettered. Melee is also one of the two games in the Super Smash Bros. series to be rated T by the ESRB, with the other being its sequel, Super Smash Bros. Brawl.

Melee received universal acclaim, with many critics praising the game's expansion and refinement from its N64 predecessor, Super Smash Bros., as well as its visuals, tight controls, multiplayer mode, and orchestrated soundtrack, although its single-player modes, lack of originality, and similarity to its predecessor received criticism.

Opening movie

The opening movie of Melee mostly uses FMV scenes from its E3 2001 trailer along with some scenes of actual gameplay.

The FMV scenes were given particularly high attention by the developing team; according to Sakurai, the team wanted to create an entire, high-quality FMV sequence in the game to highlight the then newly-released GameCube console's graphical power in comparison to previous consoles. The development team worked in three different animation studios in Tokyo, Japan to finish the FMV opening.

In addition, continuing the trend started in the previous game, the opening also directly segues into the title screen with the announcer calling out the game's title.

The E3 trailer has also been found: early opening. In this sequence, the clips of actual gameplay had been considerably changed from the final version.

It is the first pre-rendered cutscene in the series.


The character-selection screen of Super Smash Bros. Melee (which includes all 26 characters unlocked).

The cast of 25 playable characters, 26 if including Zelda's alter ego Sheik, includes all 12 characters from Super Smash Bros. and 13 newcomers (14 counting Sheik). Of these, 14 are available from the start of play (15 if Sheik is included), including all the veteran characters except Jigglypuff and Luigi and 11 more which can be unlocked.

The entire cast of Melee, excluding Sheik, Zelda's alter ego.

Of the new characters, the greatest number are from The Legend of Zelda universe if Zelda/Sheik are counted as two characters to go with Ganondorf and Young Link, although the Mario series also takes three new character slots for Bowser, Princess Peach and Dr. Mario added. On top of these, two universes add two characters each, with the Fire Emblem series making its Smash Bros. debut with Marth and Roy (with Roy making his debut in any game), and the Pokémon universe adding Pichu and Mewtwo to its two existing characters. The three other characters added are Falco, a second character from the Star Fox series, Mr. Game & Watch, and the Ice Climbers from two highly venerable Nintendo series.

Veterans (12)
Mario SSBM.jpg
Luigi SSBM.jpg
Yoshi SSBM.jpg
Donkey Kong SSBM.jpg
Donkey Kong
Link SSBM.jpg
Samus SSBM.jpg
Kirby SSBM.jpg
Fox SSBM.jpg
Pikachu SSBM.jpg
Jigglypuff SSBM.jpg
Captain Falcon SSBM.jpg
Captain Falcon
Ness SSBM.jpg
Newcomers (14)
Peach SSBM.jpg
Bowser SSBM.jpg
Dr. Mario SSBM.jpg
Dr. Mario
Zelda SSBM.jpgSheik SSBM.jpg
Ganondorf SSBM.jpg
Young Link SSBM.jpg
Young Link
Falco SSBM.jpg
Mewtwo SSBM.jpg
Pichu SSBM.jpg
Ice Climbers SSBM.jpg
Ice Climbers
Marth SSBM.jpg
Roy SSBM.jpg
Mr. Game & Watch SSBM.jpg
Mr. Game & Watch

Bold denotes unlockable characters.


The stage select screen in Melee

There are 29 stages in Melee that can be played in VS. Mode, 18 starter stages and 11 more which are unlockable stages. Three stages return from Super Smash Bros. as Past Stages, all of which are unlockable. Each universe, except for the Fire Emblem universe, has a stage. The EarthBound and F-Zero universes, which previously did not have any stages, receive stages for their respective universes. Most universes have two stages, the exceptions are the Ice Climber and Game & Watch universes which have only one, and the Mario universe which has four. Counting Past Stages, the Donkey Kong, Kirby, and the Yoshi universes have three stages. For the first time in the series, Battlefield and Final Destination can be played in VS. Mode, previously they were restricted to single-player modes.

Starter stages (18)
Mushroom Kingdom: Princess Peach’s Castle
Mushroom Kingdom: Rainbow Cruise
Mushroom Kingdom I Melee.png
Mushroom Kingdom
Yoshi's Island: Yoshi's Story
Yoshi's Island: Yoshi's Island
DK Island: Kongo Jungle
DK Island: Jungle Japes
Great bay.jpg
Termina: Great Bay
Hyrule Temple SSBM.png
Hyrule: Temple
Planet Zebes: Brinstar
Dream Land: Fountain of Dreams
Dream Land: Green Greens
Lylat System: Corneria
Lylat System: Venom
Kanto: Pokémon Stadium
F-Zero Grand Prix: Mute City
Eagleland: Onett
Infinite Glacier: Icicle Mountain
Unlockable stages (11)
Special Stages: Battlefield
Final Destination Melee.png
Special Stages: Final Destination
Mushroom Kingdom II Melee.png
Mushroom Kingdom II
Yoshi's Island Melee.png
Super Smash Bros. Past Stages: Yoshi's Island
Super Smash Bros. Past Stages: Kongo Jungle
Planet Zebes: Brinstar Depths
Super Smash Bros. Past Stages: Dream Land
Kanto Skies: Poké Floats
F-Zero Grand Prix: Big Blue
Fourside Melee.png
Eagleland: Fourside
Flatzone copy.jpg
Superflat World: Flat Zone

1-player stages

These stages cannot be unlocked, and can only be played under certain circumstances.


The main menu.





The game featured several points to be unlocked, most of which include the trophies, unlockable characters and stages. Some of them are unlocked by a special way, like achieving a certain distance on the Home-Run Contest, while others are obtained by the Lottery. For a full list, see List of unlockables (SSBM).

Some unlockable elements in SSBM were left out, but can be seen with an Action Replay cheat disc. See Debug menu for more details.


Conceptualization of Super Smash Bros. Melee began almost immediately after the previous entry released, even before Nintendo GameCube development kits were widely distributed. Masahiro Sakurai was quietly tinkering with the design plan mostly by himself with no knowledge of what the final hardware specifications would be. He publicly denied that he was working on a new Smash title until the 1999 Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) event, where he announced he was working on a "Smash game for the GameCube."[1] HAL Laboratory returned as lead developer of Melee, with Sakurai as the head of production. When final GameCube development kits reached the team, they discovered that they were much easier to use then Nintendo 64 kits.[2] The optical disc format also let the team use streaming playback for the first time, which allowed the use of real musical instruments for music tracks. The final soundtrack ended up using a mix of real music recordings and synthesized instruments, though Sakurai assured that the differences would be nearly unnoticable. These tracks are an inspiration for the founding of the Press Start: Symphony of Games concert series, which was an annual orchestral concert hosted by game industry veterans that featured arrangements of video game music that ran from 2006 to 2015.[2]

The game was one of the first games released on the GameCube and highlighted the advancement in graphics from the Nintendo 64. The developers wanted to pay homage to the debut of the GameCube by making an opening FMV sequence that would attract people's attention to the graphics.[3] HAL worked with three separate graphic houses in Tokyo to make the opening sequence, with Sakurai personally storyboarding the intro instead of spending the New Year with his family.[2] On their official website, the developers posted screenshots and information highlighting and explaining the attention to physics and detail in the game, with references to changes from its predecessor.[4] The game was in development for 13 months, and Sakurai called his lifestyle during this period "destructive" with no holidays and short weekends.[5] Unlike the experimental first Super Smash Bros., he felt great pressure to deliver a quality sequel, claiming it was the "biggest project I had ever led up to that point". Despite the painful development cycle, Sakurai proudly called it "the sharpest game in the series... it just felt really good to play", even compared to its successor, Super Smash Bros. Brawl.[5] Sakurai also felt pressured to make the game as content-rich as possible to help it stand out from both other games at the time and its predecessor. Trophies were born out of this desire for content. Since the team was only able to make a limited amount of playable characters, trophies acted as representation for characters and franchises that did not make the cut otherwise as fanservice and a history lesson with background information attached to each trophy.[2]

On the game's official Japanese website, the developers explain reasons for making particular characters playable and explain why some characters were not available as playable characters upon release. Initially, the development team wanted to replace Ness with Lucas, the main character of Mother 3, but retained Ness in consideration of delays.[6] The game's creators later included Lucas in the game's sequel, Super Smash Bros. Brawl.[7][8] Video game developer Hideo Kojima originally requested the inclusion of Solid Snake to Sakurai, but the game was too far into development. As with Lucas, development time allowed for his inclusion in Brawl.[9] Similarly, Sonic Team head Yuji Naka confirmed that Sonic was ultimately not added due to time constraints;[10] like Snake and Lucas, he later became playable in Brawl. Wario was strongly considered for Melee's roster; while Sakurai expressed that he would have included Wario if he had time to add one more character,[11] he explained that he had opted to instead allocate the team's limited development time to implementing other characters such as Mewtwo or Marth and Roy, and also wanted to avoid having an excessive number of Mario characters.[12] Marth and Roy were initially intended to be playable exclusively in the Japanese version of Super Smash Bros. Melee. However, they received favorable attention during the game's North American localization, leading to the decision for the developers to include them in the Western version.[13][14] This decision is often credited for popularizing the Fire Emblem brand outside of Japan to the point of convincing Nintendo to release the series internationally starting with Fire Emblem: The Blazing Blade, localized as simply Fire Emblem. Additionally, Sakurai stated that the development team had suggested characters from four other games to represent the Famicom or NES era until the developers decided that the Ice Climbers would be in the game.[15] The developers have noted characters that have very similar moves to each other on the website;[16] such characters have been referred to as "clones" in the media.[17]

Nintendo presented the game at E3 2001 as a playable demonstration.[18] The next major exposition of the game came in August 2001 at Spaceworld, when Nintendo displayed a playable demo that updated from the previous demo displayed at E3. Nintendo offered a playable tournament of the games for fans in which a GameCube and Super Smash Bros. Melee were prizes for the winner.[19] Before the game's release, the Japanese official website included weekly updates, including screenshots and character profiles.[20][21] Nintendo followed this trend with Super Smash Bros. Brawl, in which there were daily updates by the game's developer, Masahiro Sakurai.[22] Japanese gaming magazine Famitsu reported that Nintendo advertised the game in between showings of the Pokémon the First Movie across movie theaters in Japan.[23] In January 2003, Super Smash Bros Melee became part of the Player's Choice, a marketing label used by Nintendo to promote video games that have sold more than a million copies.[24] In August 2005, Nintendo bundled the game with the Nintendo GameCube for $99.99.[25]


Melee reviews
Publication Score
Edge Magazine 6/10
Eurogamer 10/10[26]
Famitsu 37/40
GameSpot 8.9/10[27]
IGN 9.6/10[28]
Nintendo Power 5/5 [29]
Official Nintendo Magazine 95%
Compilations of multiple reviews
Metacritic 92/100[29]
Game Rankings 90.52%[30]

Melee was well-received in many quarters and is the GameCube's top-selling game, selling about 7.09 million copies worldwide as of December 31, 2009. It was the fastest-selling GameCube game in Japan and sold 358,525 copies within four days of its release. In North America, it sold 250,000 copies within nine days of its release. It was the first GameCube game to sell over a million copies, an achievement reached only two months after its release.

Melee has received critical acclaim from reviewers, and has received high rankings on many gaming sites, such as GameRankings, IGN, and GameSpot. GameSpy commented in their review that "you'll have a pretty hard time finding a more enjoyable multiplayer experience on any other console".[31] Reviewers compared the game favorably to the original Super Smash Bros., commonly due to the large amount of new content added to the sequel, with IGN's Fran Mirabella III saying it was "in an entirely different league than the N64 version".[32] The improved graphics were also welcomed, and GameSpot said that "the character models are pleasantly full-bodied, and the quality of their textures is amazing".[33] Planet GameCube's Mike Sklens also rated it as "one of the best sounding games ever",[34] while GameSpot's Greg Kasavin commented that "it all sounds brilliant".[33]

Super Smash Bros. Melee has received many gaming awards. GameSpy chose it as Best Fighting GameCube Game in their "Best of 2001" awards[35], IGN's reader choice chose it as Game of the Year,[36], Electronic Gaming Monthly chose it as Best Multiplayer and Best GameCube Game,[37], and GameSpot chose Melee as the Best GameCube Game and tenth best game of the year.[38][39].

Despite overall positive reception, common criticisms of gameplay included the controls' over-sensitivity[31] and "hyper-responsiveness", with characters easily dashing and precise movements difficult to perform,[33], as well as the fast-paced gameplay, with Nintendo Spin's Clark Nielson stating that "Melee was too fast for its own good".[40] Many gamers additionally criticized the game for being too similar to the original, and's Caleb Hale called it "every bit as good as its Nintendo 64 predecessor. The game doesn't expand much past that point".[41]

Changes from Super Smash Bros.

While Melee mainly follows the same formula introduced in the original game by retaining most elements, several differences exist between the two games. The following list, while not all-inclusive, notes several of the changes. Note that this list does not include obvious changes, such as a different button scheme/controller and Melee-only characters and items.


  • The general pacing of the game has been increased; hitlag has been reduced, KOs off the top blast line finish sooner, and characters move faster in general, as gravity and falling speed values have been made higher, and more forward momentum is now conserved from a dash when jumping.
  • Hitboxes now use spheres and tubes instead of rectangular prisms.
  • Damage is now dealt and tracked with decimal numbers instead of integers, making moves of any damage equally vulnerable to staleness.
  • Stale-move negation has been redesigned; moves now feature a gradual drop in power if used repeatedly instead of a single large drop in power when used once, and using a move less frequently gives less of a penalty than using the move the same number of times consecutively. For consecutive hitting attacks, once the first hit connects, all others become one-level staler.
  • Weight differences have been made less drastic; characters heavier than Mario are lighter, while characters lighter than Mario are heavier, so overall weight is slightly less of a factor in knockback.
  • The amount of hitstun a character suffers has been decreased, being reduced from x0.533 the amount of knockback to x0.4.
  • Midair characters can now drop through soft platforms by holding down on the Control Stick, improving aerial movement.
  • Directional influence revamped: in addition to shifting into a direction while in hitlag (SDI), characters can also alter the angle they are launched into by holding into a direction, as well as get a weaker additional shift into the direction the Control Stick is held (ASDI).
  • Most aerial attacks have been decreased in damage. All of them now have unique landing animations, and L-canceling now just halves the landing lag of an aerial rather than making the character assume their regular landing animation. Characters can now, however, fast fall at any time during aerials, so they can be L-canceled earlier, introducing the highly competitive SHFFL and allowing the character to perform more extensive combos within Melee's new physics.
  • Smash attacks can now be charged for extra damage and knockback. Most smash attacks have received a power decrease to balance this out.
  • Meteor smash knockback can now be cancelled via using an up special or jumping (with the audio and visual indicators being a loud swishing sound and the character glowing briefly white while doing so, in addition to a sparkle), though certain moves "fall through the cracks" and cannot be. Moves that can meteor smash are also generally much slower in all aspects.
  • Angling forward tilts and smashes now either increases or reduces their damage, depending on the angle, but most of them now have fewer angles.
  • Characters now have a side special move, bringing the total number of special moves per character to 4. Some veterans gain a new move for their side special, while others (like Link, Ness and Jigglypuff) gain a new neutral special, with their old one becoming the side special.
  • Shields now last for a shorter time, and characters now take longer to drop them, though they receive less shieldstun from attacks. The game now uses two different sounds for when a shield is broken by either an opponent or the character itself, the former being higher-pitched.
  • Characters can now sidestep dodge and air dodge, which results in the addition of wavedashing, as well as making shield platform dropping more difficult.
  • Characters can now powershield and lightshield (the latter function makes a character`s shield bigger than usual, but they slide farther from shielding attacks).
  • Characters can now tech on walls, ceilings and ledges.
  • Characters hanging on ledges can now get up by jumping from them, and they can also be sweetspotted during the ending lag of recovery moves. Characters can prevent grabbing them by holding the Control Stick down.
  • Characters now have a unique animation for running grabs, which is generally slower and farther reaching than their standing/walking grab.
  • Character pose animations are removed in Melee’s character selection screen. Instead, when the player is selecting a character, they showed the full portrait of the character on the bottom screen in the character selection screen.
  • Jump-canceled grabs are implemented: dashing characters can now use their regular grabs by preparing a jump and then grabbing before leaving the ground, making them faster and with a longer reach, depending on the characters' dash speed and traction.
  • Grabs can be escaped should the grabber wait too long before throwing, with the time until escaping dependent on the grabbed character's damage (the more damage they have, the longer they can be held). Grabs now have increased ending lag, so they cannot be used in repeated succession as effectively.
  • Characters now have an up throw and a down throw in addition to a pummel. Some veterans have had throws reassigned (for example, Kirby and Jigglypuff's old forward throws are now their up throws, Captain Falcon's old forward throw is now his down throw, and they have gained new forward throws).
    • Throws are additionally weaker in general, with less damage and knockback, and most throws are now meant to start combos instead of being KO moves. This, combined with the introduction of up and down throws, introduces many more options for chain throws. The majority of throws now also have variable speed depending on the opponent's weight (lighter characters are thrown faster), and many others also consist of two hits, with the first hit being able to damage nearby opponents.
  • Certain characters can now use their extended grab in midair to wall grapple.
  • Certain characters like Mario can now wall jump.
  • Moonwalking is possible (with Captain Falcon being the most prolific user of it).
  • If an already struck character is hit by another attack 10 frames afterwards while still in hitstun, the knockback power and angle of both attacks is scaled for the second hit, rather than being completely replaced.
  • Tumbling can be stopped by quickly tapping the Control Stick sideways.
  • Characters can now only be KO'd by the top blast line if they are in hitstun when sent upwards, and foes on extensive team battles (such as in Multi-Man Melee) now cannot be Star KO'd nor Screen KO'd, making them significantly faster.
  • Items can now be grabbed before coming to rest, and can also now be grabbed by aerial characters.
  • All characters can walk while holding a heavy item, though very slowly; Donkey Kong remains the only one who can jump and walk at a normal speed while carrying them. They can also be thrown upwards and downwards, like regular items.
  • Healing items can now be consumed while wielding a battering item, such as the Beam Sword.

Game modes

  • A stock match can now have a maximum time limit set. Many other additional rules have also been added, such as removing stages from random selection, controlling how stages are chosen, and altering the battles' damage ratio.
  • Bonuses can now be earned in both single-player modes and multiplayer matches. Some old bonuses have been removed while many more have been added, bringing the total from 57 to 249.
  • 1P Game is now known as Classic Mode, with the opponents before the final stage now being random rather than always the same, and various other single-player modes such as Adventure Mode and All-Star Mode have been added.
  • Training mode now has many more options, such as battling with more than one CPU, adjusting their damage percentage, or even controlling them by a human player if additional controllers are plugged in. The longest combo achieved with each character is also saved afterwards.
  • Special Smashes have been introduced, which include battling with giant or invisible characters, using hit points as opposed to damage, and even battling at a faster or slower speed.
  • A Tournament mode has been added.
  • The Board the Platforms bonus game has been removed, with the Snag the Trophies bonus game being introduced, and Race to the Finish being revamped.
  • The Board of Platforms mini-game has been removed from the stadium mode, with the Home Run Contest mini-game being introduced.
  • Trophies have been added, which can be collected in the Lottery, 1P modes or by specific means, then viewed in detailed ways. All characters also have three trophies of themselves, replacing the previous game's biographies.
  • Coins are now used for continuing on 1P modes and earning trophies: these are obtained by winning battles on either regular 1P or Versus modes, the amount depending on how long they take.
  • Records are not saved if a match is forfeited.
  • More complex records are saved by the game, such as the total of times it has been turned on, current characters with the most KOs, falls and SDs, or even the total distance walked by all characters.


  • Most characters, such as Mario and Luigi, use updated designs.
  • Most items are now 3D models, rather than animated 2D sprites like the original game.
  • The pre-match countdown by the announcer and unique on-screen appearances for each playable fighter are absent. Instead, the announcer says "Ready... Go!" at the start of a match, and all fighters share the same animation of a trophy coming to life.
  • The camera controls on the pause screen have been extended to allow freedom of focusing on other characters. A Camera Mode has been introduced where players can additionally slide it across the stage and take snapshots, which are saved into the Memory Card occupying additional slots.
  • Players can now use personalized names for battles, which also get records saved.
  • The match timer will now show hundredths of a second (XX:XX.xx). In addition, the final five seconds of the match will appear on-screen, and while the announcer counts down, the numbers will get bigger. Also, except in Japanese, the announcer will call out "Game!" and "Time!" when the match ends.

In competitive play

Melee is widely known for its large and intricate tournament scene. The birth of the tournament scene occurred with the creation of the Tournament Go series in 2002. Melee has since been featured in the championships of many grand-scale fighting game tournaments, such as Major League Gaming in 2004, 2005, 2006, and 2014, and EVO in 2007 and from 2013 to 2018.

The community has constructed a set of standard tournament rules to regulate tournament play. While rulesets may vary between different tournaments, generally universal gameplay rules include all matches being played via timed stock (four stocks and eight minutes), and restrictions on legal stages. These regulations are enacted to ensure that gameplay at the highest level remains fair and interesting.

Competitive Melee has historically had a rocky relationship with Nintendo. Due to a combination of reasons, such as cultural differences and company policies, Nintendo is very strict with permission to broadcast competitive Melee, and has had streams or even whole tournaments shut down for what players view as unfair reasons. This was exacerbated during the years of online-focused or online-only play, as Melee (being a GameCube game) cannot be played online without emulation and modding, two things Nintendo is very adamant on disallowing.


Main article: List of staff (SSBM)



  • Melee is the only Super Smash Bros. game to:
    • Not have unique on-screen appearances for each playable character. Instead, all playable characters share the same animation of a trophy coming to life.
    • Not have separate announcer voice clips for free-for-all and team battle, instead collectively announced as either "Melee/Battle Royale", "Survival", "Grab/Get the coins" and "Decision" (in time, stock, coin and bonus battles, respectively), or in cases of Special Melee, respective announcements for each rules.
    • Be a sequel that contains a roster with a greater amount of newcomers than veterans, with newcomers making up more than 50% of the playable roster.
  • As a near-launch title for the system, Super Smash Bros. Melee marks the first appearance on the Nintendo GameCube for 23 out of the 26 playable characters; the exceptions being Mario, Luigi, and Bowser, who had appeared in Luigi's Mansion (the latter after a fashion, as his appearance in said game was actually an elaborate animated suit controlled by King Boo). As only Luigi was playable in said game, he is also the only character who was playable on the GameCube in a game before Melee.
  • Gameplay of Melee, in particular Marth and Roy fighting against each other on Temple, was shown nineteen years after the game's debut for the Fire Emblem: Shadow Dragon and the Blade of Light reveal trailer.[3]


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External links