[[quoteright:350:http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/bd126ec54688ce80b8b512ae54331484.jpg]]
[[caption-width-right:350:[- L-R: Leslie, Santiago, Owen, [=LapTrap=], and Joni -] ]]
'''''The [=ClueFinders=]''''' is a series of {{Edutainment Game}}s from The Learning Company in which the eponymous {{Kid Hero}}es have exploits which more-or-less fit into the {{adventure}} show genre of TheNineties, collecting AlphabetSoupCans on {{Fetch Quest}}s since OnlySmartPeopleMayPass. The main characters are:

* Joni Savage: TheLeader Specifically, a [[FieryRedhead Fiery]] RedHeadedHero and a FearlessFool, although the latter died down when {{Chickification}} set in.
* Santiago Rivera: TheLancer, MrFixit and a WeekendInventor.
* Owen Lam: TheMcCoy SurferDude, who talks in a TotallyRadical way.
* Leslie Clark: [[TheSmartGuy The Smart Girl]] given to SesquipedalianLoquaciousness. Owen's {{foil}}. They seem to be in the early stages of UnresolvedSexualTension, but, of course, we'll [[NotAllowedToGrowUp never find out if it goes anywhere]].
* [=LapTrap=]: RobotBuddy, DeadpanSnarker and CowardlyLion. Has the form of a floating laptop.
* Socrates: TeamPet, who only appears with any prominence in the fourth grade game. Amazingly, both an example of RememberTheNewGuy and ChuckCunninghamSyndrome.

The games are aimed at kids aged 8 to 12, with specific games for third-, fourth-, fifth- and sixth-graders (having been a follow-up to ''VideoGame/ReaderRabbit'', another Learning Company series, which is aimed at kids aged up to 7). In addition, there are four other games devoted to mathematics, language arts, logic and miscellaneous subjects.
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!!Call the [=TropeFinders=]!
* AccidentalMisnaming: This conversation in ''3rd Grade''.
-->'''Joni:''' ''(in regards to collecting sneeze berries)'' Listen Bingo.
-->'''Bongo:''' Bongo!
-->'''Santiago:''' Bongo?
-->'''Bongo:''' Bingo!
* AdultsAreUseless:
** Nobody can solve the mysteries except for a gang of children.
** In ''4th Grade Adventures'', adults were befuddled by problems that the [=ClueFinders=] solve easily.
** [[spoiler:However, Fletcher Limburger seemed to be able to reach the Lost City ''long'' before the [=ClueFinders=] did, just not the way the Numerian people intended, as he likely flew over the walls.]]
* ABirthdayNotABreak: Mild example but in ''The Mystery of Microsneezia'', Joni discovers her uncle has disappeared. This message is received in the middle of her birthday party.
* AgelessBirthdayEpisode: The book ''The Mystery of Microsneezia'' opens on Joni's birthday. No, we aren't told how old she's turning.
* AllMythsAreTrue: [[ScoobyDooHoax Subverted]] twice, applied once, and [[RealAfterAll double subverted]] in the same two games.
* AliensSpeakingEnglish: Several times over, both with aliens proper and with other things. Partially averted in ''5th Grade''--[[spoiler:the aliens use BlackSpeech, the written form of which is a CipherLanguage, but their computer speaks and understands English perfectly well.]]
* AlphabetSoupCans
* AndIMustScream: [[spoiler:Malicia's fate is to be trapped inside the amulet, which the kids then bury.]]
* AttackReflector: [[spoiler:It's a good thing the group keeps [=LapTrap=] polished; in ''Reading'', his reflective underside is as good as a mirror at blocking magic.]]
* BeneathTheEarth: ''6th Grade'''s setting, occupied by what amount to non-alien PlantAliens. Visitors beware--it's also a FisherKingdom of the "physical modification" type, slow-acting but thought to be permanent.
* BigEater: Owen.
* BigfootSasquatchAndYeti: Thought to be the villain who stole TheShangriLa's treasures in ''Math''. [[spoiler:Turns out it was actually the village elder's apprentice in disguise, who after surviving an avalanche gets subdued by [[RealAfterAll a real yeti]].]]
* BizarreTasteInFood: In the book ''The Mystery of Microsneezia'', Leslie expresses a desire for bubblegum-topped pizza, much to the disgust of Santiago and Owen.
* BlindWithoutEm: Joni is revealed to be this trope in ''The Mystery of the Backlot Banshee'', due to having had her glasses off while swimming. Interestingly the scene isn't a [[TropeNamer "My glasses! I can't see without my glasses!"]] moment; rather it's more along the lines of "I couldn't see what happened. Anyone hurt?"
* BluffTheImpostor: In ''The Mystery of Microsneezia'', [=LapTrap=] gains an EvilTwin in the form of S.N.A.I.L.L. Late in the story, the [=ClueFinders=] find themselves having to [[SpotTheImpostor figure out which "LapTrap" is the real one]]. Joni and Leslie do this by deliberately getting the location of a Mongolian restaurant the team frequents wrong and giving the wrong kind of beast of burden as their transport to the titular island.
* BodyHorror: The {{Transflormation}}s from human to plant person in ''6th Grade Adventures''. When it happens to Joni, Leslie actually truly falters in her resolve to complete her mission.
* BrokenBridge: All the time on a small scale. See also ClosedCircle.
** Lampshaded in ''5th Grade'':
---> '''Owen''': "Why is it that wherever we go, we always find large pits to cross?"
* BusmansHoliday: Whether they're going into a vacation or already on one, the [=ClueFinders=] ''will'' eventually find a mystery.
* CatchPhrase: Joni has a couple: "I dunno, but we're ''gonna'' find out!" and "Let's go, Santiago."
* {{Chickification}}: Joni, though admittedly this mostly involved her abandoning her FearlessFool tendencies.
* ChekhovsGun: It's a good thing that [=LapTrap=] yells at Owen for using him as a mirror in ''Reading''!
** Also don't forget the whole ring in ''4th Grade''.
* ChronicHeroSyndrome: The [=ClueFinders=]. Case in point, in ''The Mystery of the Backlot Banshee'', after the titular banshee shows up, the studio's equipment malfunctions, causing a fire. Joni leads Santiago and Leslie (Owen was otherwise occupied) ''towards'' the fire and the three of them work to put out all the fires.
* ClingyMacguffin: The ring in ''4th Grade''. [[spoiler:[[MacguffinDeliveryService Until Loveless steals it.]]]]
* ClosedCircle: ''5th Grade'', ''6th Grade'', ''The Incredible Toy Store Adventure'' and ''Reading'' have game-wide examples. ''5th Grade'' deserves special notice in that everyone on the island is trapped, having tried and failed to get off for generations--they say [[GeniusLoci it doesn't want them to leave]].
* CollectiveGroan: In the opening of ''3rd Grade'':
-->'''Fletcher Limburger''': Well... peanuts, anyone?... that's what folks are saying, and there's an old superstition about a monster and a lost city.
-->'''Santiago''': Superstition?!
-->'''Leslie''': Lost city?
-->'''Joni''': Monster?!
-->'''Owen''': ...peanuts?
-->'''All''': '''''OWEN!'''''
* ConvectionSchmonvection: When she kidnaps them, Malicia keeps Leslie and Santiago imprisoned in a cage over a lava pit. They're just fine afterwards.
* ContinueYourMissionDammit: In ''6th Grade'', Owen and Leslie will talk about how you are taking awhile during one challenge. But it's a reading comprehension challenge... come on guys, really?
* TheDevTeamThinksOfEverything: Check the map at the end of ''5th Grade Adventures''. "Sorry! But we are now, trapped, inside!"
* DesignatedVictim: Leslie or Santiago at first and then both of them in the later games, culminating with them ending up in trouble after showing up to save Owen and Joni in "The Amazing Toy Store Adventure".
* DoesThisRemindYouOfAnything:
** In ''Search & Solve Adventures'', a villain forces RidiculouslyHumanRobots to work as her slaves, keeping them in line by [[DeniedFoodAsPunishment denying them new batteries]].
** In ''Reading'', the kids are told to [[spoiler:throw a magical amulet into a volcano, [[Literature/TheLordOfTheRings for only then could it be destroyed.]]]]
** [=LapTrap=] is a shiny yellow piece of technology whose trademark characteristic is constant worry. [[Franchise/StarWars C-3PO]], anyone?
* TheDragAlong: [=LapTrap=].
* EnemyMine: In ''5th Grade'', the [=CrypTile=] stories you have to unscramble often have this theme. They describe how the castaways have come from all over the world and how they must overcome their difference and work together in order to escape.
* EstablishingCharacterMoment: Leslie and Owen both get these at the beginning of ''3rd Grade Adventures''. Owen is distracted from the group's mission by food, setting up his BigEater tendencies and Leslie remarks that she remembers reading about the lost city their pilot mentioned, setting up her position as TheSmartGuy.
* EvilDetectingDog: In ''4th Grade'', Socrates is growling at Loveless right in the opening cutscene.
* EvilIsNotAToy: [[spoiler:Loveless thought he could make set his slave. The reverse happens.]]
* EvilLaugh: Parodied/subverted:
-->"I swallowed my mint."
* EvilTwin: S.N.A.I.L.L. is one for [=LapTrap=] in ''The Mystery of Microsneezia''. [[spoiler:He's cured by the end of the story though.]]
* FacePalm: Santiago gets one at the end of ''5th Grade Adventures''.
* FateWorseThanDeath: Near the end of ''4th Grade Adventures'', [[spoiler:Loveless is turned into a mummy by Set. ''And he's still alive afterward.'']].
* FearlessFool: Joni in the earlier games, played as a RunningGag.
* FetchQuest
* FiveTokenBand: Joni is white, Santiago is Hispanic, Leslie is black and Owen is... [[AmbiguouslyBrown some variety of Asian]]. Possibly of Chinese extraction, judging by his last name, but this was never really confirmed in-game.
* {{Foreshadowing}}: In ''6th Grade'', [[spoiler:before you "officially" get the clue about the plant kingdom being polluted, the "Recipe for Disaster" activity has you feeding toxic chemicals to a plant guard. If you click on Leslie during this activity, she'll comment on how strange it is that these chemicals are down here.]]
* FunWithAcronyms: [=LapTrap=]'s model designation of T.U.R.T.L.E. (Turbo-charged Ultra Rugged Terrain Laptop Equipment) and his EvilTwin S.N.A.I.L.L. (Superior Numerical Artificial Intelligence Logic Laptop).
* GaiasVengeance: ''6th Grade'''s plot comes about because of [[spoiler:waste dumped in the water supply.]]
* GenerationXerox: The apparent reason why the human residents of the island in ''5th Grade'' still act and dress like they're from the time periods when their ancestors wound up there.
* GentlemanThief: Crime has caught up with the one in ''5th Grade'''s game; he's in a stockade. He buried a lot of cryptiles in a patch of {{Man Eating Plant}}s, and given your need is willing to loan you the maps.
* GenreSavvy: Joni gets this in ''The Mystery of the Backlot Banshee'' when she refuses to automatically believe the story that Perry Boston, one of her mystery-solving idols, tells the kids about a local director sabotaging his own film and insists that they investigate further because they need evidence.
* GiveMeYourInventoryItem
* GodsHandsAreTied: Of all the series to parody this, ''4th Grade'' introduces Egyptian gods towards the end, who provide the main characters with magical boons to help them [[DidYouJustPunchOutCthulhu defeat Set]]. Said gods would fight him themselves, but the passage leading to him is marked with a sign: "You must be under this height to defeat the forces of Chaos." (And the height is forty feet, no less!)
* HammerAndSickleRemovedForYourProtection: Inverted, sort of. ''Math Adventures'' is obviously set in Tibet, but the game insists on describing the setting as "high in the Himalayas".
* HeroicSacrifice: Joni pulls a non-lethal one off in ''6th Grade Adventures'' when the leader of the plant people [[spoiler:Miss Rose]] demands a hostage to stay behind to ensure that the humans' mission to clean up the plants' water supply goes off without a hitch; she immediately volunteers, citing that Santiago's the best choice to investigate pollution sites and that Owen and Leslie knows their way around the underground. She remains calm and trusting in her friends even as she [[{{Transflormation}} turns into a plant person]].
* HerrDoktor: Dr. Fern in ''6th Grade''.
* HijackedByJesus: The ''4th Grade'' setting, though not as badly as in some other series. It helps that Set was fairly evil even in the old myths.
* HoistByHisOwnPetard: [[spoiler:That amulet Malicia really wanted? Now she's stuck with it--or rather, inside it. Forever.]]
* HonestJohnsDealership: "Have I got a deal for you! You can pick any one of my beautiful jeeps, but only one can make it Cairo!" Of course, he tells you in the next breath how to work it out by multiplying the number of gallons by the miles-per-gallon, so maybe it's a SubvertedTrope.
* HyperspaceArsenal: You can carry anything in "the backpack" -- including bridge planks in ''6th Grade Adventures''.
* InnocentCohabitation: Though not mentioned in the games for several reasons, [[AllThereInTheManual the Wiki]] tells us that Santiago stays at the Savage residence whenever his parents are out of town. This is compounded by the fact that Joni's college professor parents are frequently out of town... leaving the two 12-year-olds alone in the house together.
* InterfaceSpoiler: Owen's ContinueYourMissionDammit will come off as this, unless you saw a scene that could be missed by using the WarpWhistle earlier.
* LampshadeHanging:
** During the spelling catwalks challenge:
---> '''Owen''': Why is it that wherever we go, we always find large pits to cross?
** They also Lampshaded the use of {{Fetch Quest}}s in ''Search and Solve Adventures''.
** In ''The Mystery of Microsneezia'', lampshades are hung on the fact that Leslie brought bubble gum to the jungle and how weird it is that the [=ClueFinders=] and [=LapTrap=] [[spoiler:really his EvilTwin S.N.A.I.L.L.]] have switched personalities.
* LetsSplitUpGang: Every main game except ''4th Grade''.
* LeastCommonPizzaTopping: Santiago and Owen treat Leslie's choice of broccoli pizza this way in ''The Mystery of Microsneezia'', which is odd since they live in or near San Francisco.
* LighterAndSofter: Interestingly, ''4th Grade Adventures'' is this even compared to ''3rd Grade Adventures'', and has much more of a sense of humor.
* LimitedWardrobe: Characters dress the same in every main game except ''4th Grade'' and ''Math''.
* LostWorld: In ''3rd Grade Adventures''.
* {{Mayincatec}}: The Numerians in ''3rd Grade''. Justified, since they're fictional.
* MeaningfulName: Joni's last name, befitting her wild personality.
* MrFixit: Santiago.
* MythologyGag: Upon meeting the sarcastic sphinx, Leslie says, "It seems somewhat odd that we would encounter a character like this in an Ancient Egyptian pyramid." He then replies, "Who were you expecting? VideoGame/ReaderRabbit?"
* NamesToRunAwayFromReallyFast: Sir Alistair Loveless III in ''4th Grade''. Also a PreppyName.
* [[NiceGuy Nice Kids]]: The [=ClueFinders=] are this trope. In ''The Mystery of the Backlot Banshee'', Owen performs a diving save to catch a stuntman thrown off by the appearance of the titular banshee and his three friends all rush to help put out the fires caused by the fallout, saving innumerable papers and pieces of equipment.
* NoodleIncident: Shortly before the events of ''The Mystery of the Backlot Banshee'', the [=ClueFinders=] had solved a mystery involving the keys to the locks on the Panama Canal going missing.
* NotSoAboveItAll: Leslie and Santiago are usually incredibly mature for their ages, the better to play the {{Foil}} to Owen and Joni respectively. But they do have a handful of moments where they act their age; the major ones are Santiago telling Joni, quote, "I guess this (taking a ring from the Egyptian tomb they visited) makes you an international jewel thief" in ''4th Grade Adventures'' and both he and Leslie participating in the pizza topping argument at the beginning of ''The Mystery of Microsneezia''.
* ObviouslyEvil: Even without the name, the above-mentioned Alistair Loveless might just as well be walking around under a neon sign reading "BAD GUY". Humorously enough, even [[Wiki/{{Wikipedia}} The Other Wiki]] observes in its article on the game that there's something [[{{Parody}} off]] about him. "In one scene, he [[EvilLaugh cackled manically]] for a long time in the typical villain fashion, before coughing and explaining that he swallowed his mint."
* OOCIsSeriousBusiness: In ''The Mystery of the Backlot Banshee'', Leslie sits up abruptly in her chair, sending the books and newspapers in her lap tumbling to the ground. The dedicated bibliophile doesn't even notice because she's so excited about the article she's found.
* OmnicidalManiac: Malicia in ''Reading''. As you might expect, she's completely bonkers.
* OnlySaneMan: Generally switches between Leslie and Santiago but in the book ''The Mystery of Microsneezia'', Joni plays this role. After getting her friends to stop bickering about which kind of pizza to order and pay attention to her, she declares her plan: order a large pizza with four different toppings since none of them like the same thing.
* ParrotExposition: Once in a while.
* PeopleJars: In ''5th Grade'', the [[spoiler:aliens keep humans and animals in a type of these before they eat their brains.]]
* PrincessClassic: In ''Reading'', the alien princess is both this and TheAloner, though she's holding up comparatively well. [[spoiler:For a reason: she's the villain in disguise, trying to take advantage of the MacguffinDeliveryService.]]
* RealAfterAll: [[spoiler:Mathra]] in the first game.
* RedHeadedHero: Joni.
* TheReveal: Every main game except ''4th Grade''. [[OddballInTheSeries Noticing a trend]]?
* RiddleOfTheSphinx: ''4th Grade''; can't have an Egyptian setting without one of these! Somewhat subverted in that the Sphinx talks like [[Creator/TheMarxBrothers Groucho Marx]], and knows you'll outwit him [[BreakingTheFourthWall because he's read the game script]].
* RobotBuddy: [=LapTrap=].
* SacrificialPlanet: In ''Mystery of the Missing Amulet'', the game's eponymous MacGuffin, the Amulet of Life, was responsible for completely reducing the planet Millenia into a dying wasteland. At the end of the game, the evil sorceress Malicia says that once she finishes off Millenia with the Amulet, she's going to drain life from the Cluefinders' home planet, Earth, next.
* SchizoTech: One can't help but wonder how ''3rd Grade''' s "Numerians" built a computer a thousand years ago.
* ScienceFantasy: It's never entirely certain what the series is, though it generally leans more towards ScienceFiction (with ''4th Grade'' as a noticeable exception). Interestingly, all the games with proven SpeculativeFiction elements also use PlausibleDeniability.
* SeriesContinuityError: In ''Mystery Mansion Arcade'', when [[spoiler:Miss Rose]] is revealed to be one of the villains that have captured the team, Joni makes a comment about how "the pollution must have made you evil again". All well and good and a perfectly reasonable explanation. Problem? Joni is the only [=ClueFinder=] who doesn't remember the events of ''6th Grade Adventures'' where the character was introduced along with the pollution issues. Though this could be justified by [[SecretKeeper Joni being the only person the other three told]].
** In ''The Mystery of the Backlot Banshee'', during the climax, the Clue Finders must chase the villain up a pyramid set piece which is very large. After Santiago is given his directions, he complains that he "hates heights". This is ''never'' a problem in any of the games, most of which involve at least one climbing stunt and in ''5th Grade Adventures'', he and Joni scale a cliff face with no assistance whatsoever.
* SesquipedalianLoquaciousness: Nearly all of Leslie's dialogue.
* ShoutOut:
** [[{{Kaiju}} Mathra]] is an obvious reference to Film/{{Mothra}} of ''Franchise/{{Godzilla}}'' fame.
** There is a flower that quotes ''Theatre/MyFairLady''. She even speaks in a perfect cockney accent.
** ''3rd Grade Adventures'' has the [[Music/TheBeatles talking plant quartet with British accents]]. They call their swamp home "Liverpuddle". This section of the game has [[WesternAnimation/YellowSubmarine colorful animations and the design of the talking plant quartet]] as well. They are also the ones to introduce players to beetle bags.
** Also in ''3rd Grade'', the guardian of the Chamber of Illusions speaks almost exactly like Creator/RodSerling of ''Series/TheTwilightZone''. It even uses the phrases "picture if you will..." And quotes the show's opening.
** The three map mice in ''4th Grade Adventures'' are mice versions of Film/TheThreeStooges.
** ''4th Grade'' also has a RiddlingSphinx who talks like [[Creator/MarxBrothers Groucho Marx]].
** The Civil War lady in ''5th Grade Adventures'' mentions that [[Film/GoneWithTheWind "tomorrow is another day"]] and how she adores [[Film/AStreetcarNamedDesire "the kindness of strangers."]]
* SmartBall: Owen gets it in "The Amazing Toy Store Adventure" where he's inspired to use the shrunken Unshrinker device on the shrink ray the villain is using to make it too big to hold.
* SpotTheImposter: In "The Mystery of the Backlot Banshee", Joni becomes suspicious of detective Perry Boston when she realizes that he's left-handed but claimed that he couldn't sign autographs with a broken ''right'' arm.
* TakeYourTime: A form of GameplayAndStorySegregation here; obviously you wouldn't want to get put under a time limit when you're trying to do long division!
* TalkingAnimal: Several.
* ThatsNoMoon: ''5th Grade'''s island is a bit unusual, to say the least. [[spoiler:It's a spaceship, and the aliens have been [[ToServeMan harvesting human brains.]]]]
* TeamMom: Mild case with Joni. She tends to make sure her friends are okay (which includes such things as making back up food supplies for picnics and knocking sense into Owen) and ''really'' doesn't like it when they're put in danger.
* TechnoBabble: In ''The Mystery of the Backlot Banshee'', Santiago and Joni both engage in this though Joni's is utter nonsense with no actual scientific terms at all. [[InvokedTrope She's doing it on purpose]] [[LaymansTerms to get Santiago to explain his new gadget in terms she can understand]]. Santiago isn't offended by this; in fact, he [[CrowningMomentofFunny finds it hilarious]].
* TotallyRadical: Nearly all of Owen's dialogue.
* TomboyAndGirlyGirl: Joni and Leslie respectively. Highlighted by their outfits since Joni's never seen in a skirt and Leslie's only seen in pants during ''Math Adventures'' due to a skirt being impractical in the cold weather. This is actually reversed with their superpowered forms in ''4th Grade Adventures'', with Joni in a skirt and Leslie in pants.
* TomboyWithAGirlyStreak: Joni's quite enamored with the Egyptian jewelry in the tomb they visit in ''4th Grade Adventures''... at least until the ring [[ClingyMacguffin won't come off]].
* TrademarkFavoriteFood: Leslie is given one in ''The Mystery of Microsneezia'': bubble gum. [[spoiler:It's even a plot point later.]]
* {{Transflormation}}: What happens to Joni while held captive in the "The Empire of the Plant People."
* TrialAndErrorGameplay:
** The vending machine in ''Search and Solve'' and the Gates in ''Reading''. This is actually the entire point; it's to test out your hypothesis. This doesn't stop it from being frustrating for people of ''any'' age.
** Those who had played games like Mastermind or ''{{Lingo}}'' would be will familiar with the gates challenge in reading...however, you have to ''GUESS'' what letters are in the correct or incorrect places, since like Mastermind, you're told how many letters are correct and are in the right/wrong spaces, but you aren't told which ones.
** The gate challenges in ''3rd Grade'''s Monkey Kingdom are very much like this especially on CHALLENGE difficulty. Oftentimes the appropriate addition, subtraction, multiplication and division tiles will all be visible and you just stand there throwing sneezeberries at them hoping that they're correct. But once you know where the letters are, you can just hit them, even if the numbers don't match up.
* {{Unobtainium}}: Cryptiles in ''5th Grade''.
* UnwinnableByDesign: The mentioned TrialAndErrorGameplay mini-games can be made unwinnable. If the jams in the vending machine puzzle are clustered to one area and your guesses are all on the other side, you run out of guesses and can't win that game. In the gates challenge, you can easily run out of guesses considering you know ''how'' many letters are in the right or wrong places, but you don't know ''which ones they are''.
* WeirdnessMagnet: These kids can't even go out into their backyards without finding trouble.
* WouldHurtAChild: The majority of the villains.
* XanatosSpeedChess:
** Malicia in ''Reading'' [[spoiler:tricked Joni and Owen into assembling the Amulet of Life for her, then when she tried to grab the completed amulet from them, got the wrong one, but she fortunately already had Leslie and Santiago imprisoned in her mountain so naturally, Joni and Owen would walk right on up and bring the amulet to her anyways to rescue their friends.]]
** The BigBad of ''Mystery Mansion Arcade'' also has this, where [[spoiler:the mysterious villain, none other than ''Franchise/CarmenSandiego'' who has organized it all traps the villains after they fail, and the kids even ask, "Wait, did she want to catch us, or ''them''?"]]
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