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Finally done with Aokana, I usually play VNs in the order of expected worst girl to expected best girl, just so I'll definitely finish it, because the "better routes" are still to come. The setting was pretty good, Flying Circus proved to be a good setpiece to convey the different stories for the girls, at least for the most part.

Spoiler

Started with Asuka and was pretty much on the money there, concerning starting with worst girl. For one it rubbed me the wrong way how she got everyones attention. Sure, I can't blame her, it's not like she demanded it, but they are still playing this sport in a hobby setting and for everyone to get super devoted to just pushing her skill for some reason... Well, didn't like that all that much. It also doesn't help, that her final battle goes completely bonkers with sports anime-esque super techniques that work for whatever reason.

Next I played Misakis Route, but she surprisingly ended up best girl for me. The (actually) similar struggles she and the protagonist went through just lead to the best chemistry and her easy-going attitude and hidden fragility just made her likeable all the way through. The climax for her route also felt much more satisfying, because she actually used relatably unique strategies.

Then I played Rika who became my runner-up. It's a bit less intense and not all plot points seemed to get as much attention as they should/could. For example her blogging and affinity for meat never get more than an inconsequential mention. Still, some quirky traits just balance her character, even if they don't play much of a role. Definitely liked her Route overall.

Lastly I played Mashiros Route who came in third for me. That's kinda by default, since I really disliked Asukas Route. Mashiro had the least focus on Flying Circus in her route, but they replaced it with pretty much nothing interesting. Misunderstanding hijinks, stuff with her parents, she and the protagonist working on their own stuff and so it dragged on for a few hours. Liked her final battle against Misaki though.

This game needed an Aoi Route soooo much. 

Enjoyable read. 7/10

 

Also started playing the Rance games, done with 1, the remake of 2, 3 and halfway through 4.

The writing is often awkward and laconic, but still somehow very likeable. Can see that this kind of character was ahead of its time. Every game improves on the previous one with better features, better systems, better art, better writing, better story. I'm really enjoying going through this series step by step and can't wait to see where it's headed. So, rather than rating a single game, I'm rating the process of going through this up until this point. 7.5/10

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After a long time, I've finally finished reading Fragment's Note 2, the rare mobile-only Japanese VN that actually is a pure visual novel and not some kind of gacha crap. This series is such a weird one that I can never truly make my mind about: it's got a lot of lazy writing, obnoxious pseudo-psychology and the first part got unbearably bloated and repetitive after the main plot got resolved, basically adding a few full hours of dumb drama and pointless fluff after it simply should've ended. I liked the main story in it and at least some of the characters, but then literally skipped through an hour-worth of content in each route to not get bored to death.

The second game has fewer issues with pacing, but is separated into two, basically standalone routes: in Japan they were two different apps, but got merged together for the English release. And these routes are definitely NOT equal. The first one, which the game suggests you to start with, focuses on Shizuku, protagonist's younger step-sister who shares with him the trauma of losing her original family in a plane crash. In the end, they see taking care of each other as the main motivation to keep living and this leads to various unpleasant consequences – including deeply disturbed incest romance. Still, all that wouldn't be so bad, if the girl had any kind of personality, or even visible traits beyond being traumatized and a brocon. The romance feels just as bland as she is and the whole route is pretty much pointless trash. It has some reveals that the second scenario only vaguely explains, but it's really neither necessary to understand everything nor worthwhile to read.

The second route, on the other hand, Yukitsuki's, focuses on the antagonist of the first game as the love interest. She's not a very deep character by any means, but has a bit of personality and context to her (at this point she's something of a reformed villain, burdened by her previous misdeeds). Her story connects the new characters and major plot points to the events of the first game, giving both the new cast and herself proper closure and tying neatly all the loose ends. It builds proper romance instead of the poorly-conceived loli incest plot. If you ever decide to read FN2, go straight to this part, especially because the core structure of the story is essentially the same and many fragments are literally repeated word-for-word between the two routes. The imouto route can just burn in hell.

Assuming Shizuku's route doesn't exist, 6,5/10

Edited by Plk_Lesiak

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Recently I finished Ageha's route in Cruise Sign. All-ages version of this route has slightly different tone than the ero original, but it was good nevertheless. Also, during this playthrough I'm getting more and more interested in Hotaru and Akari - looking forward to their routes in FD :)

On a side note - just like Kotori's route, also Ageha's route in Cruise Sign is identical content-wise to the all-ages PC version (IMHHW). It's exactly same script and same CGs. I have to check remaining routes to be totally sure, but it seems that, contrary to popular belief (which I shared as well), all-ages version hasn't been made by MoeNovel, but by "main" Pulltop. The "only" (albeit quite big) problem with IMHHW compared to Cruise Sign is bad translation. And probably it seems "butchered" / "badly-cut" exactly because of that bad translation, which often makes no sense in Ageha's route. But actually there are proper replacement scenes and scenario rewrites, not just "blindly cutting everything remotely related to sex", as we've been believing.

The only extra content that console version has over English PC release (IMHHW) was all-ages version of Flight Diary, but that got also translated recently (I haven't checked it out yet, want to complete JP version first)

So the chronology seems to be something like this:
 > Pulltop releases original +18 Konosora in 2012 and Flight Diary in January 2013
 > They create all-ages edition (with replacement scenes etc), but for unknown reasons release only badly translated English version in May 2013
 > In 2016 they make all-ages version of Flight Diary (that replaces "Himegi harem" route with Akari's route), combine it with the aforementioned all-ages version of main game, and release it for PS3 as Cruise Sign
 > fast forward to 2019 - they decide to translate console version of Flight Diary and release it on Steam

So if the translation wasn't as shitty as it is, we'd currently actually effectively have English PC port of Cruise Sign on Steam (albeit split into three releases). Sadly, Ageha's route translation is amazingly bad... :( It's really surprising. As far as I know, AGM is Japanese company, so I can partly understand that maybe translators working on this title weren't masters of English, and that's why overally translation sounds stiff or has grammar errors. (However, it's editor's job to fix it...) But when it comes to Ageha's route, it reads as if person translating this knew neither English nor Japanese. How did they hire such person in big company specialized in videogame translations? :o

Edited by adamstan

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I finished the three rance 4 games and while I really enjoyed Rance 4, I couldn't help but see that the subsequels were a step back again. I'm not familiar with the history of these games and why they made these subsequels, but 4.1 and 4.2 are kinda skippable. Next up 5D.

I wanted a bite-size VN afterwards and saw that Loca Love 2 had been released and my OCD promptly kicked in, even though the first game was nothing special, a short somewhat sweet romance VN without much depth, sometimes a nice passtime. As expected this wasn't much different, but for some reason it got pretty fetish-focused. Didn't take much time, wasn't worth it either. 3.5/10

With that underwhelming experience out of the way I read Wagamama High Spec and liked it overall. With the protagonist being a writer it pokes some fun at tropes and the heroines are all pretty likeable in their own way. The standout heroine was Mihiro for me, mostly because her route was the most enjoyable. I just like routes were the third act involves the couple getting through whatever trouble has arisen together, instead of protagonists having to undo their fuckups and winning back the girl or whatever. The protagonist has distinct qualities and deficits, none of which truly unique, but fitting for who he is and how he got there.

One thing I have to mention though, just lampshading the tropes and cliches you notice, doesn't exonerate you from using them anyway in the end, it makes for a lighter mood and makes some stuff more bearable, but it's still not going above and beyond in creative writing. Still, enjoyable read. 6.5/10

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32927.jpg

I've played DameKoi for some time now, but honestly this title didn't age well - and I'm not talking about the art. While it's nice to have a VN with an adult protagonist for a change, he's so indecisive and scatterbrained that he felt more like an insecure teenager than most teenage protagonists I've played. I'll also echo some comments I've seen on VNDB about it: The VN tries pretty hard to be like an episodic anime, but fails because it's a VN and not an anime. There's too much switching around of perspectives without any reason that just drags the pacing down and the protagonist feels undeveloped and bland as a consequence.

I also don't understand the route structure of this title. You essentially have to go through half of one heroine's route after another instead of focussing on one heroine. During that time the protagonist comes over as so indecisive to decide for or against that heroine that it borders on rudeness on far too many occasions. And since the VN is so busy showing conversations between other characters, the actual interaction between the protagonist and the heroines comes off badly. Overall, I felt not a glimmer of chemistry between them. And for a VN that is neither particular funny, nor has an interesting plot, or at least some entertaining slice of life, that's pretty much the final nail in the coffin.

Also, a short comment about the remake. I don't know who had the glorious idea to change the originally dark text box that only covered maybe a fourth of the screen, into this huge white monster text box that covers almost a third of the whole screen. Without making it almost completely opaque it's hard to read and the text itself only covers about two thirds of the text box.

Spoiler

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Notice the line break directly after the 'my'? And yes, the space at the right side is completely unused.

The awfull business-nerd soundtrack also didn't help. But for what it's worth, I kinda liked the heroines - mainly Asami, Kaya and Mitoko.

Final rating: 4/10

Overall, that was probably the most bland and boring VN I've read this year and I regret not dropping it earlier than in Himeo's route. What a disappointment!

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Whoa, I think it's the first time I see such poor rating for Damekoi :o I still haven't tried it, wonder how will it turn for me when I finally get to it.

As for my current read - this weekend I finished all-ages version of Amane's route in Konosora Cruise Sign. It was really nice, and I might actually prefer it over ero version of this route. It didn't feel censored, rewritten story felt pretty natural to me, and it didn't bother me at all that they haven't fucked yet ;) And still every time Amane glomps Aoi or lap-pillow scenes make my heart go きゅうーーん :wub:

I also compared it with English version (IMHHW), and again, as with previous two routes, it's identical content-wise. Translation of Amane's route isn't as disastrous as Ageha's, but there still is fair amount of lines with mismatched subjects - like they were translated out of context.

Now I'm reading Kazato twins' route (Asa & Yoru).

Edited by adamstan

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I'm playing Dochi no I ga Suki Desu Ka by Hooksoft.  So far it is typical for the company (straightforward SOL with a decent protagonist).  I'll probably switch over to Crystalia's new game if the only route I'm interested in turns out to be boring.

   

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10 hours ago, GXOALMD said:

I got up to the lacrosse game in Muv Luv Extra last night.  With Aokana and Little Busters as my past two big vns, that scene was quite a let down.

Well, the lacrosse arc IS the dullest arc in the entire Muv Luv series after all, so I wouldn't be surprised if you found it to be disappointing. Don't worry though; Unlimited will get much better.

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Been playing Watashi ga Suki nara "Suki" tte Itte! and it was a pretty good VN overall. Not the first VN I played, that used a system with daily event choices, but the one with the best implementation of that system. I happen to like that type of gameplay in general, you can easily break it down to small sessions of play and still feel a general sense of progress. It also goes well with this type of easy-going, low-stake/drama story. It's not hugely creative plot wise, but a sympathetic protagonist with a clear passion and drive helps it feel more meaningful. I liked all of the heroines. Granted they are not very unique, but they were still very likeable, especially in this slice of life, episodic, almost 4-koma-esque setting. Great pick-me-up sort of VN. 7.5/10

Spoiler

Ayame had a few unique spins on her fragile girl persona, making her a gamer and unusually headstrong were good choices that made her more likeable and just different enough, her route also made good use of the protagonists passion for cooking to tie the story together in a satisfying way.

Yuuki was pretty good during the first playthrough, her early romance playthrough gave her something of a strange personality shift though. I often don't like it, when family relations take too large a part in a heroines story, but I really liked how this VN handled it. It clearly showed that family shouldn't be disregarded, but shouldn't be made the axis of ones world either, the balance that actually is sensible felt spot on for me.

Mahiru had a very weak third act, a random breakup, a random fire as trigger to get them back together... I liked how the protagonist didn't treat it as a breakup though and kept a level head. Still, weakest route for me.

I had no idea what was going on by the time Chihos route closed out, but I still liked the journey. She had amnesia, he had amnesia, everything was and still wasn't a dream. Plot wise it was a hot mess of tropes that lead to a satisfyingly unsatisfying conclusion in a way.

Rinka was also very likeable with her playful persona. Her route also had one of the more emotional setbacks, especially if you had grown attached to the protagonists passion, a route better played late into the game/possibly last. That also seems to be the games intention, since you can only get to her route after denying every opportunity for a different heroine. I liked how it played out with both of them overcoming their setbacks and still acomplishing their dreams, but I actually would have liked to have the possibility, of them coping with being unable to achieve their goals, explored till the end.

 

After a bunch of charage I wanted something a bit rougher and especially shorter. When I looked through my backlog I found I walk among zombies vol.2

Kind of liked the first one with a cold, calculating protagonist being a big draw towards it. I'm also generally fond of anything that's about survival, high-stake games and the like.

The sequel has me a bit torn, it feels like the "hero" is losing some of his edge. On the other hand, a lot of characters were introduced and him connecting on an emotional level to a certain degree isn't completely without merit.

The pace is pretty good, it feels like there is a lot of stuff happening, but these volumes are pretty short after all, so in the end this volume is still mostly a setup for what is to come, which promises to be interesting. 

With that in mind I'll just hope for the best. 6.5/10

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I just finished Akari's route from Flight Diary. Pretty nice, on par with the rest of the VN quality-wise. Akari has really cute side to her :)

First I've read original PS3 version, then, to compare, translated Steam version.

I'm happy to report, that they're the same, there is no additional censorship in Steam version, despite some rumors. Actually after reading the original version, I couldn't imagine anything that could possibly be removed, as it's totally wholesome and all-ages friendly ;) Turns out I was right :D

I was really worried about TL after reading @phantomJS's comment in the thread about Steam edition. I don't know if they patched it, or whatever, but it wasn't bad at all. First of all, this time it definitely was edited, and it's visible that somebody put some conscious effort into it, and had some stylistic vision. While there are few slightly mistranslated lines, and some questionable translation choices*, it's mostly coherent, comprehensible, and actually reads quite smoothly. Nowhere near the mess the main game's translation was. It leans towards the "liberal" side of the spectrum, but doesn't go into "overwesternization" territory - it's just that some lines are reworded to convey the meaning in a bit more natural way than strictly literal TL would. Personally, I'm fine with that.

One line was translated in quite amusing, and, dare I say, ecchi way (Who would expect that from MoeNovel release?):D

Spoiler

When girls are talking about Akari in dining room, Yoru notices that Aoi has gone completely frozen, with teacup in his hand. In Japanese version she just points it out. In Steam version her line sounds like one of those H-scene cliches: "You can move now if you want, Aoi" :D:D:D

I also have to applaud the TL team for clever way of rewriting the scene, when Akari switches to calling Aoi by his first name. Since the TL ditches honorifics, and all characters are on first name basis most of the time in translated version, I was really curious, how they solve it (especially since they screwed up that very thing in the ASFOS). It went surprisingly smooth.

All in all, if somebody wants to read Akari's route, and doesn't know Japanese, Steam version is safe way to go. It's certainly readable, and no content cut compared to original.

*I just wish they left nicknames "Anchan" and "Mabou" / "Makun" intact, since I got used to them. As for Anchan, it was replaced by his first name (Tatsuya), and as for Masatsugu, TL or editor decided to give him "Masa" nickname, and it's used whenever there was "Mabou" or "Makun" in the original - unnecessary, if you ask me. On the other hand, changing "Hat" (ハット in original) into "Hatty" actually works well.

Edited by adamstan

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First of all, as expected, I didn't get very far in Konosora. I guess, this type of school life VNs don't really interest me anymore unless they are focused on comedy.

And now, it looks like I finally finished something longer than 30 minutes. :makina:

2019-11-17-23-54-55.png

May Sky is an old free doujinshi VN which I just randomly found installed on my PC. Don't ask me how it happened. Probably installed by aliens or something.

That said, in spite of the ugly character portraits, the game is surprisingly nice. It's a rather simple story of a romance between two people who seemingly have nothing to do with each other. Good thing is that the protagonist is in his early twenties and has to deal with some typical problems for that age.

I don't really have much else to talk about here. The only real flaw I found in this story is that the ending started to feel a bit too stretched out, so I decided to skip the bonus epilogue. I still enjoyed it nonetheless. 7/10

Ame no Marginal. It's a short supernatural VN by the authors of Narcissu. Overall, as I was reading it, I found it a bit disappointing compared it to its famous predecessor (and I'm not even a big fan of Narcissu to begin with), but after I finished it I realized that I might've missed what the story what the story was trying to convey, so I may raise my evaluation in the future after I think it through. Still, compared to Narcissu that brought some serious problems that real people are facing today, this one felt just tragic for the sake of being tragic, and I didn't even feel particularly sad. I mean, I know some religions in the past could be pretty fucked up, with human sacrifices and all that stuff, but it never really concerned me, so I just couldn't bring myself to care. And by the time I actually started to care about the girl, the story already ended. But, with all that criticism, I enjoyed it. Unlike most other VNs, it's decently well written and doesn't have any filler whatsoever, and if the sequel light novel was available in English, I would definitely read it. I'm giving it 6/10 so far, but, like I said earlier, there's a chance that I'll change my opinion about it in the future.

And now I'm back to Katahane. Well, I still like it, but I feel like it started to get a bit boring, and that's exactly why I stopped reading it for some time. But it looks like now I finally have some motivation to read VNs again, so I'll most likely finish it.

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43 minutes ago, Dreamysyu said:

May Sky is an old free doujinshi VN which I just randomly found installed on my PC. Don't ask me how it happened. Probably installed by aliens or something.

That said, in spite of the ugly character portraits, the game is surprisingly nice. It's a rather simple story of a romance between two people who seemingly have nothing to do with each other. Good thing is that the protagonist is in his early twenties and has to deal with some typical problems for that age.

Looks like nice little game. Thanks for mentioning, adding it to the backlog :)

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5 hours ago, Dreamysyu said:

And now I'm back to Katahane. Well, I still like it, but I feel like it started to get a bit boring, and that's exactly why I stopped reading it for some time. But it looks like now I finally have some motivation to read VNs again, so I'll most likely finish it.

If I remember correctly Katahane had a somewhat sudden story shift, that dragged on a bit too long for my tastes, too much time spent on characters that felt unlikeable, inconsequential or both. At least it felt rewarding pushing through it and getting back to the main group. I also liked the gimmick of switching PoV at certain points.

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(Should post it in this thread, not the one about ages of characters...)

Yesterday I finished Hotaru's route (Cruise Sign and Steam versions). OMG, so much cuteness :wub: And nice character development for Hotaru. Sweet little route, and sweet little Hotaru :D 

As with previous routes, Steam version is identical to Cruise Sign version, no additional censorship. Translation is similar to Akari's route - not great, not terrible ;) So now, onto the Kanako's route.

Edited by adamstan

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Just finished the true ending in Majo Koi Nikki (The Witch's Love Diary), but does anyone know how to reach the second true ending? According to the guide herehere and here, which I've been following perfectly, I'm supposed to reload my earlier saves to get some extra scenes, but there are no new scenes when I do that, and I never get the

Spoiler

"Remember"

choice that I'm apparently supposed to pick. I'm really lost here.

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Thanks to a little help from a guy on Reddit, I was finally able to move on.

For some stupid reason, the developer decided that you need to idle on the title screen for a full minute after finishing the true ending. If you do that, you'll trigger a scene that then unlocks the additional choices listed in the guide. None of the walkthroughs mention this, and there's no indication of it in-game, so unless you usually idle on the title screen after finishing a game, there would be no way of knowing that this is what you need to do. (Seriously, this is some Castlevania II: Simon's Quest "kneel in a corner until a tornado appears and whisks you away" level of obscurity.)
I imagine most people will never realize this, so they'll end up missing what is arguably the most important puzzle piece of the story.

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1 hour ago, Seraphim88 said:

Thanks to a little help from a guy on Reddit, I was finally able to move on.

For some stupid reason, the developer decided that you need to idle on the title screen for a full minute after finishing the true ending. If you do that, you'll trigger a scene that then unlocks the additional choices listed in the guide. None of the walkthroughs mention this, and there's no indication of it in-game, so unless you usually idle on the title screen after finishing a game, there would be no way of knowing that this is what you need to do. (Seriously, this is some Castlevania II: Simon's Quest "kneel in a corner until a tornado appears and whisks you away" level of obscurity.)
I imagine most people will never realize this, so they'll end up missing what is arguably the most important puzzle piece of the story.

I recall, I once played an adventure game where you are supposed to trigger some event in one part of the map, then move to some other place, where about 15 minutes after the initial trigger a key to the next puzzle would appear on a wall for very short time. And this type of puzzle repeated several times. I honestly don't have any idea how anyone could even figure it out without a walkthrough.

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Last Saturday I finished Kanako's route from Cruise Sign/Flight Diary.

It was great, I think I liked it the most from the three new routes (Akari, Hotaru and Kanako). It was the most romance-focused one, but also had some nice comedy. I didn't expect too much from this route, but got very nice surprise. And I guess this route is the source of +17 rating for Cruise Sign ;) It has lots of ichaicha when they finally get together - some intensive kissing scenes, and quite bold bath CG - without towels, would you believe it? Just some steam, water and carefully chosen camera angle to hide what should remain hidden. Original routes and the other two new routes (Akari and Hotaru) look pretty tame by comparison.

Again, Steam version is identical to the Cruise Sign one (including the bath CG :P), and also I feel like it has the best translation from the three FD routes I've read so far.

Now I have before- and after- stories left to read.

Edited by adamstan

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1 hour ago, adamstan said:

Last Saturday I finished Kanako's route

This is pretty damn irrelevant, but I'll just go ahead and mention that my brain decided it would be a reasonable idea to read this to the tunes of "Last Christmas". For a second there, I figured that might mean I've failed this year's Whamageddon, but it seems remixes and covers are allowed so I'm still good to go (for now).

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I finally got around to reading Euphoria last week, finished it up yesterday.  I went in expecting some mediocre saw rip off that wouldn't have any depth past shock value, but what I got was:

Spoiler

Zero Escape (Love Story Edition) (Now with concise infodumping!)

Needless to say I enjoyed the novel quite a bit more than I thought I would, despite the fact I had to reread most of the boring part at the beginning for each route.  Most importantly, I can say that Euphoria has largely made me question my prejudice against nukige, as I now realize that nukige does not necessarily equate to no/bad plot.  I do have to say though that it's reputation is pretty misleading; while I certainly wouldn't describe the content as tame, considering it to be extreme is also off the mark.  Overall I'd say the transgressive content is fairly middle of the road, with some of the later scenes skewing slightly towards extreme.  Realistically, any mentally healthy adult could read this without much trouble.  What I'm really curious about though is what the checkbox for gore cgs does; as far as I could tell none of the cgs contained gore, so I'm curious what this option actually changes (blood perhaps?)  Regardless, I'm glad I stopped passing on this novel due to my preconceived notions of it as Euphoria rose above all others like it that I've read.

Spoiler

Except Subahibi; Euphoria didn't rise above that.

 

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