(Wii U eShop)

Wii Sports Club: Golf (Wii U eShop)

Game Review

Wii Sports Club: Golf Review

Europe PAL Version

Posted by Thomas Whitehead

Definitely under par (that's a good thing)

It seems slightly odd that, nearly two-and-a-half years after it made an appearance in the big reveal of Wii U at E3 2011, we now finally get to play Wii Sports Club: Golf. Perhaps unlike its contemporaries to date — Bowling and Tennis — this is the first of the new download-only series that feels like an entirely new experience, rather than a slightly better-controlled tweak of the pack-in phenomenon on Wii.

Golf in the original Wii Sports was, in the context of the sport being represented, a rough and tumble affair. You could get into the spirit of it and swing the Remote like an actual club, sure, but it was almost as easy to slouch in a chair and waggle your arm for the same effect. The technology was primitive, as were the visuals and mechanics, but it was immediately accessible and fun which, ultimately, was all that mattered.

Wii Sports Club: Golf, on the other hand, is the polar opposite in almost every way. It's accessible in the sense that anyone can pick up a Remote and copy what the players do on TV, and it has basic visuals by modern standards; yet the technology is not as primitive, and this new entry demands more of each player. It's possible, in theory, to dupe this one with waggle while lounging on the couch, but the likelihood is that your shots will ping off into the rough or out of bounds. No, this needs to actually be played like something resembling real golf.

And it's impressive from that perspective. Not only does this version employ the Wii Remote Plus accuracy like the golf in Wii Sports Resort, but utilises the GamePad impressively, in what is possibly its stand-out application to date. The controller is placed on the floor and represents a virtual look onto the course, with your ball resting in the middle. You set your stance and, when ready, use B to centre your remote — at this stage a virtual golf club appears on the GamePad screen and it not only gauges power, but gives you a greater real-time visual indicator of the angle of the club head and, impressively, where you struck the ball. The effect is the game laying down the challenge to hone your technique, keep a straight wrist and play golf properly. In this reviewer's case that exposed some shoddy technique early on, but the literal interpretation of keeping your eye on the ball and then following it once hit — in this case focusing on the GamePad and naturally swinging into viewing the outcome on the TV — never got old.

In the case of everyone who played this for the purpose of this review, the outcome was the same — an initial round was typified by a struggling performance, before a second round showed the player naturally learning and adjusting their technique. This is impressive work from Nintendo, showing how its Remote Plus technology, aligned with the GamePad, can further enhance the experience. This feels like a more legitimate, accurate representation of golf than its Resort predecessor, so achieving a top score is a satisfying moment.

That accuracy is a strength and a weakness. The issue, perceivably, is that it'll make this all-but-impossible for some that are either not familiar and skilled with the technology, have no idea how to swing a golf club, or both. We did see — as mentioned earlier — one example online of a player tricking the title with short swings of the wrist (as evidenced by his Mii's motions) yet that seems very tough to do accurately. Yes, players can learn as they go and improve, but such is the nature of golf that this demands patience and persistence, and you may have been on the course for an hour or two before you start to master the intricacies of play. This is an issue in context, as Wii Sports is a brand representative of simple fun, whereas this is challenging, relatively complex fun.

Rather oddly, and the opposite of Nintendo's standard approach, this title doesn't offer much help, either. The tutorial is short and mainly teaches you how to interact with and use the GamePad screen, but tells you nothing about how to play golf — unlike the repetitive nature of tennis and bowling, this is a sport of nuance, which is actually represented to a startling degree. In fact, the game has little mercy at all, offering little help to those struggling — it even posts the same slightly snide 'Pro Tip' repeatedly that says, and we paraphrase but kid you not, "it's hard to play out of the rough, so just land on the fairway". Nintendo's gone from making golf super-easy and pinching you on the cheeks, to making it more realistic and telling you to get out and practice, with a hint of a growl and sneer. We love the challenge and clever technology in place, but wonder whether this game will simply be out of bounds for less experienced gamers; the lack of real assistance for these weaker players is a peculiar oversight.

If you do get into the swing of things, there is a decent amount to do. For starters there are two nine-hole courses. The Classic option recreates the original Wii Sports course, familiar to millions and charming in its slightly cleaner HD remodel. The new Lakeside course is apparently based on the good old 8-bit Golf days, and it shows in its ways; there are some devious holes here that test your skill and luck, and we'll admit to resorting to a few hit and hope strokes. These courses are tough — the top scores in Europe were just -5 and -6 for each at the time of writing, like we said, it's fairly realistic — and we're happy to finish level par or just under. With each round scores may improve, but the game giveth and it taketh away; sometimes the wind will support a bold shot, and other times it's punishing and cruel. For our part, we love the challenge.

Those courses can be played in full one-at-a-time, you can take on all 18 holes — in which case trail the GamePad charger wire to the controller, you'll need it — or you can play three holes of choice. Those are the options in local play, whereas online the formula is shaken up for shorter formats; you can play just one hole in a friendly that doesn't affect ranking, three competitive holes or nine competitive holes. Like in Tennis and Bowling you can filter searches, and in our experience we always found an online match within a couple of minutes. Due to the methodical, slow-paced nature of the sport an online game can take a little while, and in our matches opponents were often struggling to play the game properly — like we said, it's pretty difficult — while, in one case, they started messing about until they'd hit the +6 limit for each hole. Apart from the latter case the games were enjoyable enough and, as it's a turn-based affair, the online connection held up well. This experience is, we'd suggest, more suited to local play just for the sake of conversation, while we couldn't find a way to recalibrate our Remote Plus online, unlike in a local play game, which was irritating when it became erratic on one occasion.

There are also opportunities to practice in some excellent Skill Shaper games, even if they don't actually teach you how to play. Putter Madness gives you 10 balls and 10 holes to aim for on the green, and your points are based on the distance of each successful shot; it's a surprisingly strategic affair. Bingo Clubber tests your short-range pitching abilities, as you have ten shots onto the green from a variety of angles — the challenge is to successfully target areas of the scored grid on the green, completing a row of numbers for bonus points. Finally we have Target Shooter, which tests your driving ability; this challenges you to be quick and accurate with your drives as you aim to hit through a target and land near the centre of the green. All of these practice games are fun and useful for improving your range of shots.

This release also has the standard Wii Sports Club treatment with Miiverse integration, club rankings and the ability to edit custom call-outs for use when playing online. It all works as expected, and is a welcome touch that encourages players to be supportive towards each other.

Wii Sports Club: Golf is, taken as a whole, a peculiar beast. It looks unassuming and cute on the outside, yet has the challenge and complexity of a more realistic sim. We were going to complain that, with some challenging courses and greens to hit, we needed a button option to apply backspin, for example; we then realised we had to apply it ourselves with a shorter, more cutting style of swing. Impressive software and technology, again, but a million miles away from the cuddly generosity of Wii Sports.


We're not going to penalise Wii Sports Club: Golf for being realistic, well designed and challenging to play. Despite its smiling Mii aesthetic this game has the core functionality to be put to use in a more serious, full-on golf title, and that's impressive and a delight to experience; it shows what the Wii U's controllers can do when in perfect harmony. That makes clear, however, that less-skilled players will need plenty of patience and practice to improve, necessitating the ability to find fun in constantly struggling for respectable scores early on. While acceptable in itself, this game simply doesn't do enough to guide and help those that don't really appreciate or understand golf, which is a peculiar failing to attribute to Nintendo. This isn't a "just wave the Remote around" experience like the iconic Wii game.

Yet if players know what they're getting into, this is a more than worthwhile experience on the Wii U. The use of the GamePad on the floor is clever and is a must for future golf games on the system, and this is the closest you're likely to feel to actually playing golf from the comfort of your living room. Despite its light-hearted appearance this goes some way to showing the delicate balances and intricacies of the sport, an entirely different experience from the repetitive natures of tennis and bowling. For those seeking more challenge and less waggle, this is a must.

From the web

User Comments (45)



Yosher said:

I'd get this, but I still haven't gotten the others yet, either. I'm still waiting for a retail package to be announced, or an option to buy all 5 sports at once for less, because you just KNOW that's coming (once they're all available, that is).



sinalefa said:

I updated the game but did not fire it up, so I haven't used my trial yet. Maybe today since I could play it on Christmas Day.



cecesigue said:

I tried it yesterday and it was good fun all around! You need to pay more attention than in the Wii Sports version of course, and the gimmick (because is what it is) of having the ball and the golf club on the remote screen is really fun.



SavoirFaire said:

@Yosher those are my sentiments as well. As soon as there is a disc copy (which I think everyone expects) this is an insta-buy for me. I am a little concerned about putting the controller on the floor with young kids around, but it does look like a solid, fun game.



allav866 said:

I might get this, but I'd be much more intrigued if Nintendo made a Nintendo-themed miniature golf game.



belmont said:

Sometimes the rating system confuses me. So a Golf game that looks like a mini game is better than Batman Origins, Splinter Cell, Call of Duty and Ninja Gaiden...

Anyway I will try the demo just to make sure if this game is my liking or not.



Goginho said:

The innovation is impressive imo.. I'm no golf fan, but I wouldn't mind seeing a mini golf game. Make it happen N



NintyMan said:

I played this through the day pass, and it's quite challenging at first, but I was getting better at it with more practice. However, a single day is just not enough to really get the hang for a game like this. It'll probably be a while before I get this because of other eShop games like NES Remix.



sleepinglion said:

Thank you for the review, though (in the US) after buying both initial sports for 10 dollars each on the eShop I was surprised to see the local Gamestop offering download codes for 5. As such, I'll try to wait a bit and see if they do that again with Golf =)



mercurio2054 said:

hey guys i have a kid and for now my wii u is save... well i have to publish a picture of what she do some month a go.



ThomasBW84 said:

@belmont You're comparing a sports mini-game to retail titles, not to mention that different reviewers = different opinions. You can't compare genres like that, as with apples and oranges



LastLife said:

My father recently became a golf fanatic earlier in the year; buying his own clubs and going out every weekend to golf. When I showed him this game, it blew his mind. It was his first time playing a video game in over a year, and his first time trying the Wii U. Now it's his favorite game and has played it almost every day when he gets home from work.



AltDotNerd said:

About time Nintendo stopped holding your hand for tutorials.
"Oh, you're stuck in the bunker? Pro Tip: Stop sucking!"



TheRealThanos said:

@cecesigue With all due respect: it may be your opinion that it is a gimmick, but an opinion is hardly a fact. Fact is that it is no gimmick, as stated in the review, if you had read it more carefully.

'No, this needs to actually be played like something resembling real golf.

And it's impressive from that perspective. Not only does this version employ the Wii Remote Plus accuracy like the golf in Wii Sports Resort, but utilises the GamePad impressively, in what is possibly its stand-out application to date. The controller is placed on the floor and represents a virtual look onto the course, with your ball resting in the middle. You set your stance and, when ready, use B to centre your remote — at this stage a virtual golf club appears on the GamePad screen and it not only gauges power, but gives you a greater real-time visual indicator of the angle of the club head and, impressively, where you struck the ball. The effect is the game laying down the challenge to hone your technique, keep a straight wrist and play golf properly.'

Gimmicky would be a visual display of a ball and club purely for the sake of the visual display WITHOUT any real time effects on your game, which is clearly not the case here, so yeah: no gimmick...

It's called comprehensive reading...



LastLife said:

@belmont My household goes through a lot of video games, and I can truthfully say that a simplistic looking game like this has had much more of an impact on my family than any of those games mentioned (Ninja Gaiden being the only one of those we haven't tried yet.) I believe the reviewers here are accurate with their considerations.



Agent721 said:

I played this with friends at my home Christmas party over the weekend. It was very tough, but tons of fun, everyone had a blast. The addition of the gamepad is a game changer. IMO, this is the best Wii sports title to date. A must buy of you enjoy golf & a good challenge.



rjejr said:

@SavoirFaire - "I am a little concerned about putting the controller on the floor with young kids around,"

I'm a little concerned w/ older kids around as well.

"We're not going to penalise Wii Sports Club: Golf for being realistic, well designed and challenging to play."

I wouldn't use the word "penalise" but it seems like a weird design choice. Bowling and tennis were nearly the same, but like you said in the review this is a completely new game mechanic that could be used in a full retail golf "sim" rather than just friends over type game. I kept reading waiting for you to get to the part where you could turn off the Gamepad usagebut I guess not.

I suppose we'll DL the free trail at some point, but well use the 24 hours for tennis and bowling and probably 15 minutes on golf. It just doesn't sound like "fun", it sounds like a "sim", and that's not our thing.



mr570 said:

I actually left the game pad sitting in its stand on the table, safely out of the way of the kids. It actually worked just fine. You see your club and are able to make all the same adjustments. I ended up preferring to play that way and likely will in the future.



Spleetal said:

I have to say golf is my favorite so far, you actually have to try and work on your golf swing and the gamepad adds a cool view so its even more realistic. Definitely challenging and I can see how it could be hard for the little ones, but I've enjoyed it a ton



belmont said:

@ThomasBW84 Sometimes I would want the rating to go away and have, instead of a number, a summary of the review and a comparison of its key points to those of similar games or a prediction of the games that may enjoy it. You can't compare retail games to mini games but it is clear that there is market for both nowadays.

@LastLife Tetris is the first game that comes to mind that is like what you describe. However as someone grows older may move to games that take themselves more "seriously".



Gioku said:

When the Wii U was first revealed, this was one of the first things they showed - playing golf with the gamepad on the floor like that - and I always thought that looked really cool! And now it actually exists!



TheRealThanos said:

@SavoirFaire I was kind of wondering about that too, but like rjejr said not only with kids.
Imagine the horror of a full house of people celebrating and drinking, stomping around the room and ever so slightly stepping on or stumbling over the GamePad...



JaxonH said:

Perhaps "better" isn't the right word. "More fun" or "more enjoyable experience" sounds right though.



JaxonH said:

To me, the Golf from Wii Sports (and Resort) was always some of the finest gaming I'd ever experienced- I just loved it. This release has no doubt been my most anticipated.

I don't think the difficulty is a bad thing. Golf is a naturally difficult game to learn. Even back on Wii it took some getting used to (my first week playing was an embarrassment and insult to gamers all over the world lol). I don't think it matters to the inexperienced if it takes them 3 shots or 9. I remember playing with my ex and she sucked, but she loved every minute of it. It's the fun of playing, not the score at the end. Trust me on that. I really don't think scores matter to the casual players or less experienced.



element187 said:

@cecesigue Having the ball on the screen is strategic as well. You can visually see any curve in your natural swing..... And this also helps with using the angles in a way to curve your shots around, lets a say a tree directly in front of you, you can aim the ball in one direction but hit hte ball at deep angle and it will move directly around the tree. Fun stuff.



Hunto47 said:

Being a left handed golfer I'm curious if it works playing left handed. In the first one the golfer didn't switch sides but it still played fine.



ThomasBW84 said:

@Hunto47 The game asks you whether you want to play right or left handed, so hopefully it works well, I'm afraid I didn't test it.



Captain_Gonru said:

This game provides a perfect reason for the purchase model used in Wii Sports Club. This seems like a game I'd enjoy, but would totally understand someone who disagreed. The down side of full-priced games like this is all the parts you didn't want. For me, Boxing will probably be a pass, but I'm sure lots of people will be all about it.
That said, I would buy the retail copy, too. I prefer discs to downloads. Just old, I guess.



Smug43 said:

I hold many of the world records so far and I have to stress how odd it was for Nintendo to create a pro like course "Lakeside" on top of the very basic and beginners "Classic" course.. what were they thinking?? They should have made Lakeside medium difficulty and created an all new PRO 18 course.. The difference in difficulty between the two in the existing game is almost unwarranted.. especially coming from Nintendo and their recent philosophy of everyone.. way to turn people off Nintendo.. get a clue on this one!!

Also the putting controls are still a little dodgy to me.. maybe I need to experiment some more.. at this point I would agree with 8/10 however if they took my recommendations I would bump this to a 9/10 because it is exceptional for the most part!



Shambo said:

Boxing was always my favourite. Hope it'll enable 2 wiimotes per player! No cable, and very precise controls. This looks impressive though, but I'm not into golf or golf games..



WaxxyOne said:

I appreciate the attempt at a more realistic golf experience, and the amount of holes to play is nice, even if some of the ones based on NES Golf are completely unrealistic. What is weird to me is, I'm a decent amateur golfer in the real world, but I'm terrible at this game. After struggling to figure out what I was doing wrong, I arrived at the conclusion that the Wiimote's angle throughout your entire swing is measured to determine the ball's trajectory, when in reality the only thing that should count is where the head is when it makes contact with the ball. Because of this strange decision on Nintendo's part, I find the only way I can play is to abruptly stop my follow-through once the ball has been struck, which in real life would ruin a proper golf swing. I hope they fix that in a patch because it tarnishes the whole experience for me and it's the reason I'm not going to be buying that sport yet.



BestBuck15 said:

Interesting review, I could be tempted in the future to buy this. I am going to hold out to see will Nintendo release a disc version with all the sports together, that would be a better option.



aaronsullivan said:

@rjejr @SavoirFaire If you can't control people of any age around you while playing the golf game I'd be less concerned about the GamePad and more concerned about knocking them out cold when you go to take a swing.

When you are done, wouldn't you just pick up the GamePad? I don't get the concern here and I have a 4 and 8-year-old.

On the subject of simulation vs. simple fun, the Wii Sports games have always had this problem. For almost all of the games, if you are young or inexperienced enough to have not enjoyed these sports in real life you are really at a huge loss. Either you don't get the surreal feeling of hitting a virtual ball, or you need to be trained from the ground up which is best done by people who have played in real life.

Golf is particularly tricky when playing for real so anyone who hasn't is going to be the most lost.

Boxing is sort of excluded here because most kids learn to throw a punch pretty early in life.

The lasting fun in these games is that when you do start to "get it" you can really refine your skills which involves large muscle groups and fine motor skills beyond your fingers.



rjejr said:

@aaronsullivan - " and more concerned about knocking them out cold when you go to take a swing."

Been there. Done that. Well technically not out cold, they were still lukewarm. And here is a whole in my low basement ceiling form serving in tennis. I never even noticed how low it was before that.



Pod said:

Golf was my absolute favorite out of all the sports in both Sports and Resort, so seeing it fleshed out in terms of features, depth, and involvement makes me all giddy!



Smug43 said:

@WaxxyOne that's not true at all.. in real life people twist their wrists and other extremely advanced techniques in a golf swing.. it's extremely accurate in the game.. you are probably holding the wii mote wrong.. If I can shot -7 on Classic and will eventually be -9 or more in the near future, then I can guarantee you are doing something wrong.. sorry, but there are no issues with the normal swing.. if anything it's the putting that I would consider more unrealistic as it almost forces you to use your wrists to partially swing for some of the distance etc..



ACK said:

But the best way to play Wii Sports golf was with a beverage in hand... For that reason alone, this cannot be an improved experience.

Actually, I love the increased difficulty. Using the Gamepad to display the ball and club face was something I dreamed about in the old Wii Tiger Woods games... I even put tape on the floor a few times. And the bonus modes are pure gravy. One of the most enjoyable and realistic representations of golf available on any format.



biomadd said:

This game is pretty awesome! It definitely worked much better and less gimmicky than I expected. People always complain about it on miiverse because they're too stubborn to read the controls on how to re-center your freakin' golf club! Now all I need is baseball and boxing and my life will be complete.



earthboundlink said:

@AltDotNerd In this moment, I wish the comment system allowed "likes" so I could give you one for "Pro-tip: stop sucking!"

Interesting that when Nintendo holds the player's hand, they are jabbed for it, and when they drop you in with no explanation, NES Zelda/Metroid style, they are also jabbed (not that the reviewer was necessarily unfair here). Having just gotten into Wonderful 101, which also expects the player to make some effort to learn the game and provides only a basic tutorial, I like this new "pro-tip" approach. Mario 3D World and LoZ: A Link Between Worlds also each have this tendency to just let the player find their own way. 3D World actually tells you to look at the manual. There's a throwback!

As was the case in the Gamecube era and with the 3DS, Nintendo makes some of its best software when its back is against the wall, sales-wise. This new approach is the epitome of what "core" gaming should be, and anyone who plays these games and says otherwise has a view of the hobby with which I fundamentally disagree.



Proff said:

As very regular (most weekends) players of the old Wii Sports Resort Golf, this is a game that me and a couple of friends have been very much looking forward to. Despite know the 18 holes on Sports Resort Golf like the back of our hands, and being able to regularly score 15 under par or better, we always found the game fun and enough of a challenge to keep going back for another round. All we wanted was Nintendo to release one or more new courses, and we'd have handed over some money and carried on playing the game to death.

When I heard that the new game uses the controller pad screen and had at least a few new holes, I really looked forward to our "new game".

We have now played the new holes about six times, and had a couple of goes at the "original" holes. Although it's still early days with the game, I have come to a few suprising(?) conclusions.

First the good points. The control pad display of the ball takes a bit of getting used to, but now seems to add something to the game. Being able to see the head of the club, and the lie of the ball makes the game seem a little more realistic (not that we really want perfect realism, but it's a nice touch). The sharper and slightly more detailed graphics are also nice, but not essential to what makes Wii golf such a good game to play. It's also good to see nine new holes to play. The actual mechanics of the swing you have to perform have been altered (I'm not going to use the word "improved" though), which brings a new challenge to the game.

Now the not so good points. Sadly, I think that the new golf is actually a backward step in it's current form. There seem to be few "fatal" flaws with the game. I'll start with the biggest problem. When you tee off with the driver, you usually want to hit the ball hard to gain the most distance. On the old game, this involved a long, fast(ish) swing of the controller. I took real golf lessons last year and discovered (unsuprisingly) that to hit the ball a long distance, a long and fairly fast swing was required. Thinking that this new Wii U golf game might be a bit more realistic than the old game, you would think that a long swing would obtain max strength. The first few times we played the game, we all struggled to get much above 3/4 strength. Occasionally one of us would hit the perfect shot, but we struggled to discover how to do it consistently. After a lot of experimentation, it seems that the only way to hit the ball full strength is to take a very short backswing (around 1 "notch), then swing the controller as far as you can, but not too quickly. This seems to work fairly regularly, but hardly feels realistic. This ruins what otherwise would have been a very good control system. With the added controller display and seemingly more demanding challenge of keeping the shot straight, the new game should feel more realistic and be a pleasant challenge. Instead it seems frustrating and flawed.

The other main issue with the new game are the new 9 holes. New hole layouts would be more than welcome if they were well designed. These new holes might seem OK, but once you`ve played them a few times you end up realising that they aren't so clever. Yes, they are quite a lot more difficult than the original holes (even the extra nine holes that were introduced into Sports Resort). The reason they are difficult is not because there are a few extra bunkers, or the greens are more challenging (although they are). It's becuase many of the holes are too long. If the game is even slightly trying to emulate real golf, why do so many of the new holes require two, or even three driver shots ? Even if you can get a full strength shot, you are often faced with a ridiculously long second shot that requires the use of the driver. I'm pretty sure that doesn't happen on real golf courses, and certainly didn't on the old game. The other thing I notice is that the fairways are often fragmented. This means that it's pretty much down to luck if you land on fairway (enabling a longer second shot) or rough. Having a fairway split up into "stepping stones" isn't natural, and it turns many of the holes into more of a game of chance than skill. It can't be that difficult for Nintendo to design good hole layouts, and better still, more courses. We'd happily pay a few £ extra to buy an extra course. I suppose the game might not be popular enough for Nintendo to do this, but maybe the game would be more popular if there were more variety in it.

The final "problem" we've noticed with the game is with the flag on the green. Yesterday I had two putts that were seemingly going to be holed, but because the flag was left in the hole, they bounced off the pin and I missed the putt. This was never a problem with the old game, as once you were on the green, the pin was removed. There is no real need for the flag to be left in the hole when you are taking a putt in this game, but for some reason it is sometimes left in place, making the putt more of a lottery. Maybe there should be a button to allow the player to remove the flag at any point (just like a caddy would in the real game), or simply not have the flag in the hole if you are using the putter.

So, overall this new game does improve on the previous one. The problem is that there are some fairly major flaws which make me want to go back to playing the old one. If Nintendo can solve these problems with an update, and maybe even consider designing a few new courses, then I'll be more than happy to continue playing it, and maybe Nintendo will earn some extra money from it.



Proff said:

I should have typed "So, overall this new game tries to improve on the previous one."

And I'll add that in my opinion, the old Wii Sports golf was the best of the Wii golf games. It had a perfect blend of "fun" and "skill". It didn't try too hard to be realistic, yet still required you to concentrate and improve your skills. I tried the Tiger Woods games, and they just didn't have the same feel as Sports Resort golf.

If Nintendo update the game to solve the issues that I`ve pointed out, I'm sure I'd be choosing the new version over the old one. As it stands, it's OK, but doesn't have the same "one more round" that the old one did.

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