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Super Smash Bros. 4: Your complete guide

By Chris Scullion on Thursday 16th Jan 2014 at 3:19 PM BST

It's hard to disagree that, with the possible exception of Mario Kart 8, the upcoming fourth game in the Super Smash Bros series is the most anticipated Nintendo release of 2014.

The original Super Smash Bros was a surprising move by Nintendo; sticking eight of its most loved family-friendly characters on a single Nintendo 64 cartridge and inviting them to kick lumps out of each other.

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Its sequel, Super Smash Bros Melee, was even more of a success, ultimately becoming the GameCube's best selling game with more than 7 million copies shifted. The trend continued with game three, Super Smash Bros Brawl, which ended up selling 10.79 million copies worldwide.

It should go without saying, then, that Nintendo is hoping the fourth (currently nameless) game will sell in similarly massive numbers. For the first time the game will be released on two different formats, with two distinct mission statements attached.

Like its predecessors, Super Smash Bros 4 looks to be the ultimate love letter to all things Nintendo, with a wide range of characters, stages, items, cameos and music from the company's 30-year gaming history and beyond.

Information on the fourth game has been steadily trickling in on a daily basis. We don't report on it every day because, frankly, we could fill a website on its own with the details we regular receive (and Nintendo has).

With that in mind, we've put together this comprehensive compendium of everything that's been revealed so far; every character, every stage and every other little detail series' director Masahiro Sakurai has divulged.

UPDATES:
Returning fighter Lucario added (31/01). New fighter Little Mac added (17/02). Returning fighter Diddy Kong added (21/02), Zero Suit Samus, Sheik, Yoshi, Greninja, Sharizard, Items section, Trophy section, Smash Run details, release windows added (09/04)


Smash Bros Wii U and 3DS release date

Nintendo has announced that Smash Bros. 4 release dates will be in summer for Nintendo 3DS (winter in Australia) and will be followed by the Wii U version in winter.


The Characters

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To date a total of 21 characters have been confirmed for Super Smash Bros 4. Four of these are newcomers that have never appeared in a Smash Bros game before. While Sakurai has yet to reveal how many characters will be playable in total, Brawl featured 39 characters so it's realistic to expect to see plenty more reveals in the coming months.

Since the characters come from a wide range of games and have massively different abilities balancing the game has always been an issue for Nintendo. This time, aided by a Namco development team used to working on games like Tekken, Sakurai aspires to forge the most balanced entry yet.

For those unfamiliar with the previous Smash Bros games, where possible we've detailed how the Smash Bros tournament community have rated each character in their Brawl incarnations to give you a rough idea as to how they may play in the upcoming fourth game.


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Bowser

Series: Mario
Debut: Super Mario Bros (1985)
Smash Bros appearances: Melee, Brawl

Bowser may be Mario's greatest nemesis, but he's never really been considered much of a fighter among Smash Bros players. In fact, the professional Smash Bros community ranked him as a bottom-tier fighter in both Melee and Brawl.

It remains to be seen whether he's improved in Smash Bros 4, but there have at least been some changes. He now stands more upright while fighting and he has a proper dash move: in previous games he would instead enter his shell and slide across the floor.


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Diddy Kong

Series: Donkey Kong
Debut: Donkey Kong Country (1994)
Smash Bros appearances: Brawl

Donkey Kong's mate is back for a second helping of face-smashery, which should be good news for expert tournament players.

Diddy was ranked as the fourth-best character in Brawl by the Smash Bros tournament community, mainly thanks to his ability to throw banana peels around the stage. Strategic use of bananas could frustrate enemies.

Along with his great combo skills, his agility and a powerful downward 'Meteor Smash attack this made him one of the best fighters in the game.

Though it isn't yet clear how Diddy will control in Smash Bros 4, the screens released so far do show that both the bananas and his peanut popgun return. His limbs also stretch more, increasing his close combat range.


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Donkey Kong

Series: Donkey Kong
Debut: Donkey Kong (1981)
Smash Bros appearances: N64, Melee, Brawl

A veteran of the Smash Bros scene, Donkey Kong is no stranger to fighting games in general, having also appeared as a secret opponent in the Wii reboot of Punch-Out!! back in 2009.

He's considered a middle-tier fighter in Brawl because, being a simian, he's surprisingly agile despite his size.

This particular version of Donkey Kong has been slightly redesigned to look more like his Donkey Kong Country Returns character model, with more fur on his head and body.


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Fox McCloud

Series: Star Fox
Debut: Star Fox / Starwing (1993)
Smash Bros appearances: N64, Melee, Brawl

Nintendo fans have been crying out for a new Star Fox game ever since DS title Star Fox Command failed to provide the on-rails action they loved. A 3DS remake of Star Fox 64 only temporarily healed the wounds.

That means they'll need to make do with the game's hero, Fox McCloud, appearing in the Smash Bros series instead. It's a good job he's a quite a popular fighter then. Thanks to a mixture of agile movement and a blaster allowing for long-range attacks, Fox is great all-around character capable of holding his own in close combat, slinking away for those that like to use a keep-away strategy, and chasing down targets.


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King Dedede

Series: Kirby
Debut: Kirby's Dream Land (1992)
Smash Bros appearances: Brawl

Dedede is to Kirby what Bowser is to Mario, but nevertheless he's not averse to teaming up with the little pink blob whenever a common enemy has to be defeated.

His massive reach made him an above-average character in Brawl, with his extreme weight making him difficult to knock off the stage. We aren't the type to be suspicious, but Smash Bros director Sakurai did create the Kirby series, you know.


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Kirby

Series: Kirby
Debut: Kirby's Dream Land (1992)
Smash Bros appearances: N64, Melee, Brawl

Ol' Blue Eyes is back for the fourth time and he's hungry again. Naturally, Kirby's main ability will once again be his swallow technique, in which he inhales his enemies and steals their special powers.

Despite being another Sakurai creation, Kirby was considered a relatively poor character in Brawl. His light weight made him quite easy to launch into the air, but this is somewhat balance by his annoying tendency to survive and make it back into the fray using his float ability.


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Link

Series: The Legend Of Zelda
Debut: The Legend Of Zelda (1986)
Smash Bros appearances: N64, Melee, Brawl

Link is the Ryu and Ken of the Super Smash Bros Brawl community. Go online and you'll undoubtedly find plenty of amateurs playing as him, whereas expert players have ditched the Hero of Time in favour of more unique characters.

In fact, despite his popularity Link was considered one of the poorest fighters in Brawl (35th out of 38), due to his sluggish animations and the fact he took an age to recover after being hit. Hopefully the Smash Bros 4 incarnation, who appears to be a mix between Twilight Princess Link and Skyward Sword Link, will improve.

Also like Ryu and Ken, Link is a great starting point to get acclimated with. He's got a whole load of tricks in his bag, ranging from sword strikes and bow shots to bombs and is quite nimble too.


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Little Mac

Series: Punch-Out!!
Debut: Punch-Out!! (1984)
Smash Bros appearances: None

In a way it's odd that it's taken four games for Little Mac to finally make his Smash Bros debut, because as the star of the Punch-Out!! series for three decades he was the first Nintendo character who specialised in fighting.

Not a lot is known about his Smash Bros 4 fighting style yet, although Sakurai has indicated that he's far more effective when he stays on his feet, using his powerful punches to damge opponents.

Because of his tiny size, once he gets into the air he's extremely susceptible to being knocked flying, so Little Mac players are advised to stick firmly to terra firma.


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Lucario

Series: Pokémon
Debut: Pokémon Diamond/Pearl
Smash Bros appearances: Brawl

This fighting-type Pokemon made its debut in Super Smash Bros. Brawl, where it was considered one of the stronger characters in the game among Smash Bros tournament players.

In Brawl, Lucario was considered the ultimate risk/reward character because players could only get the most out of it when it took a lot of damage. This is down to its Aura move, which starts off fairly weak but gets more powerful depending on how much damage has been done to Lucario. When it's close to defeat, the move can be devastating.

Many expert Lucario players have been therefore known to deliberately take damage at the start of a match in order to make the move more powerful and stage a comeback.


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Luigi

Series: Mario
Debut: Mario Bros (1983)
Smash Bros appearances: N64, Melee, Brawl

Mario's brother is still recovering from the hedonistic excesses of the Year Of Luigi, so hopefully the hangover will be gone by the time he's called upon to step into the Smash Bros arena again.

Though no new moves have been revealed as yet (though this time he flutters his legs when he jumps as in Super Mario Bros 2), we hope he retains his snidey taunt move, which has been dubbed the "Weegee kick" by pros. Doing so makes Luigi sheepishly kick the ground, but if an opponent is clinging onto a ledge when he does it they'll be smashed straight downward, almost certainly defeating them.


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Mario

Series: Mario
Debut: Donkey Kong (1981)
Smash Bros appearances: N64, Melee, Brawl

The main man is the most well-rounded character in the game, but this means that while he doesn't have many weaknesses he also doesn't have any special moves that could be considered advantageous.

As such, Mario's inability to pull something truly special out of the bag means he's actually considered one of the bottom tier fighters in Brawl. The fact that most casual players will choose to fight as him means he'll unlikely change too much.


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Marth

Series: Fire Emblem
Debut: Fire Emblem (1990)
Smash Bros appearances: Melee, Brawl

Fire Emblem was a Japan-only series when Marth made his Smash Bros debut in the GameCube's Super Smash Bros Melee. It's said his popularity in the game among players from the US and Europe was what inspired Nintendo to give its Fire Emblem games western releases from that point on.

Though originally some were hoping that the Smash Bros 4 version of Marth would be the female descendant that appeared in Fire Emblem Awakening, the eventual reveal dashed these hopes, showing Marth to be the usual male hero from the previous games.

In the right hands Marth can be incredibly deadly. He is commonly placed near the top in tier lists, and has been known to win more than a few high-level tournaments.


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Mega Man

Series: Mega Man
Debut: Mega Man (1987)
Smash Bros appearances: None

Easily the most often requested character by Smash Bros fans, there weren't many people who really believed Nintendo would add Mega Man to the roster, even though many of us secretly hoped it would.

With no hand-to-hand moves whatsoever, Mega Man is instead armed with a selection of weapons he picked up from the early NES Mega Man games. With that in mind, it's going to be interesting to see how easy he'll be to play as. His long range game should be solid thanks to his blasters and his variety power-ups, which include the Leaf Shield, could make him well rounded offensively and defensively.

We anticipate his slide will be abused thoroughly online.


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Pikachu

Series: Pokémon
Debut: Pokémon Red & Green (1996)
Smash Bros appearances: N64, Melee, Brawl

He might be a little blighter, but Pikachu was considered by the Smash Bros tournament community to be the best fighter in the original Super Smash Bros on Nintendo 64. By Brawl his powers had been slightly weakened but he's still a great character to pick.

The reasons for this are obvious. While his tiny size and nimble movement make him difficult to hit, his ability to shoot electricity means he can still pack a punch. His defence isn't so hot, though: if Pikachu gets caught with a powerful hit he'll go flying.


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Pikmin and Olimar

Series: Pikmin
Debut: Pikmin (2001)
Smash Bros appearances: Brawl

Despite having to settle for a supporting role in Pikmin 3, Captain Olimar is still the main man chosen to represent the series in Smash Bros. On his own he's probably the weakest character in the game, but once players master his ability to pluck colourful critters out of the ground and throw them at foes, he can become difficult to beat.

In fact, he was ranked by Smash Bros pros as the third best character in Brawl, making him one of the highest ranked characters of those confirmed so far (with Meta Knight and Ice Climbers alongside him).


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Pit

Series: Kid Icarus
Debut: Kid Icarus (1986)
Smash Bros appearances: Brawl

After a 17-year period of early retirement, the star of Kid Icarus was finally given a second chance when he appeared as a playable fighter in Brawl. This led to the release of 3DS title Kid Icarus: Uprising, the first game in the series since 1991.

As well as a change to his voice (he's now played by the Uprising voice actor), Pit's Brawl weapons have also been replaced with ones from Uprising. Whether this will move him higher up than the mid-tier position he held in Brawl remains to be seen.


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Princess Peach

Series: Mario
Debut: Super Mario Bros (1985)
Smash Bros appearances: Melee, Brawl

She might be royalty but Peach does like a bit of a scrap now and then. Take note, Middleton. Armed with a new dress with an HD-friendly lacy trim, she's another character looking to elevate herself above her mid-tier Brawl ranking. Then float for a bit.

So far we haven't seen any new moves from Peach - she can still bring out her trusty companion Toad to protect her from attacks, for example - but her attacks do seem to at least have snazzy new effects applied. One smash attack is supported by ribbons swirling around her.


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Rosalina and Luma

Series: Mario
Debut: Super Mario Galaxy (2007)
Smash Bros appearances: None

Peach isn't the only Mario lady joining the Smash Bros roster this year. Super Mario Galaxy's mysterious Rosalina also makes her series debut, along with her little star chum Luma.

This is the second time in a Smash Bros game that the player will control two characters simultaneously, the other being the Ice Climbers (though it hasn't yet been confirmed if they will return).

Based on her trailer, it looks like players going up against her will have to knock Luma out the fight before focusing on Rosalina herself.


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Samus Aran

Series: Metroid
Debut: Metroid (1986)
Smash Bros appearances: N64, Melee, Brawl

Surprisingly, despite being Nintendo's most action-focused character, Samus is actually considered a bottom-tier fighter in Brawl. This is because her projectiles, which are essentially her main means of attack, were greatly weakened from those in Melee.

Still, she's back with a new look - whereas before her appearance was based on Super Metroid, now it's based on Metroid Other M. So we're hopeful that along with the redesign the bounty hunter could pack a number of more powerful moves.


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Sonic

Series: Sonic
Debut: Sonic The Hedgehog (1991)
Smash Bros appearances: Brawl

One of the biggest shock entries in Brawl (the other being Snake), Sonic returns for his second Smash Bros with far less fanfare, possibly thanks to the Mario & Sonic At The Olympic Games titles diluting what used to be gaming's biggest rivalry.

This slightly redesigned Sonic is based on his look in Sonic: Lost World, the Wii U exclusive released last year. A stage from the game also appears.

Obviously, for those that like speedy characters Sonic is the perfect pick. However, be warned, he's a little unwieldy and requires a sharp focus to keep under control.


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Toon Link

Series: The Legend Of Zelda
Debut: The Legend Of Zelda: The Wind Waker (2002)
Smash Bros appearances: Brawl

Although Toon Link shares most of 'normal' Link's moves, his smaller frame and improved agility make him a far better character to play as. That's why, while the Smash Bros tournament community rank Link 35th out of 38 fighters, Toon Link is ranked 13th.

The recent release of an HD version of Wind Waker meant Toon Link's return in Smash Bros 4 was a bit of a no-brainer, though it does lead to confusion in the 3DS version's Spirit Tracks stage where he can encounter a different Toon Link driving the train. Just as Nintendo sorts out the timeline, it fiddles with it again.


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Villager

Series: Animal Crossing
Debut: Animal Forest (2001)
Smash Bros appearances: None

Another new challenger, the Villager comes from Animal Crossing and, based on the meme that followed his announcement, looks destined to become one of the most used characters online.

Each of the Villager's attacks involves an object from the Animal Crossing games, such as a slingshot, axe or... um, bowling ball. He also has the unique ability to grab an opponent's projectile and stick it in his pocket, letting him fire it back at them later in the fight. This guy's going to be a dark horse, mark our words.


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Wii Fit Trainer

Series: Wii Fit
Debut: Wii Fit (2007)
Smash Bros appearances: None

Easily the oddest of the new challengers to be revealed so far, the Wii Fit trainer is - as her name suggests - the faceless avatar who shows you how to perform yoga and strength training exercises in Nintendo's 23 million-selling Wii Fit.

As a result, most of her moves take the form of exercises from the game. You've never experienced a shameful defeat until you've been punched in the face by someone doing a Half-Moon pose. Not since Dhalsim has a Yoga master been so deadly.


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Zelda

Series: The Legend Of Zelda
Debut: The Legend Of Zelda (1986)
Smash Bros appearances: Melee, Brawl

Zelda was quite literally a character of two halves in Melee and Brawl, as one of her special moves involved turning into Sheik, a completely different character with a different move set. This was a crucial ability to have, as Zelda was rated 37th out of 38 characters in Brawl by the Smash Bros community (only Ganondorf was rated lower), while Sheik was rated 25th.

So far though, all the screens released have only shown Zelda, not Sheik. Could her ability to transform have been removed, or is Sakurai just waiting until a later date to confirm what we're all hoping for?


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Greninja

Series: Pokemon
Debut: Pokémon X & Y (Generation VI) (2013)
Smash Bros appearances: New character

Greninja, who Pokemon X & Pokémon Y fans will know as the final evolution of Froakie, makes his debut as a playable character for the first time in the upcoming Wii U and 3DS Smash Bros title.

Part frog, part ninja, he's listed in the official Pokedex as a water and dark type Pokemon capable of creating throwing stars out of compressed water. When Greninja adds a little spin to his high-speed projectiles they're capable of splitting metal in two.

With his speedy ninja footwork and deadly projectile, Greninja sounds like he'll be quite a force to be reckoned with in the game. The next new addition to the roster will certainly have to keep an eye on him...


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Charizard

Series: Pokémon
Debut: Pokémon Red and Blue (Generation I)
Smash Bros appearance: Super Smash Bros. Melee

Charizard was one of the three Pokémons players could summon when picking Pokémon Trainer in Smash Bros. Brawl, the other two being Squirtle and Pikachu. However, for the next entry in the series he's breaking free from the shackles of the trainer to become a standalone character.

What will he play like? Well, since he was revealed in a cutscene it's hard to tell, but we imagine that he'll be quite similar to his Brawl entry: slow but powerful, capable of flying and, of course, will have a very handy fire breathing move to keep other fighters in check.

The big question is whether we'll be able to use his new mega-evolved version in the game. We'll have to wait for that answer.


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Zero Suit Samus

Series: Metroid
Debut: Metroid: Zero Mission
Smash Bros appearance: Super Smash Bros. Brawl

Zero Suit Samus was playable in previous games as a variation that became accessible when using the Final Smash attack, which destroyed her suit to leave her un-armoured, whip-wielding form to take on opponents. However, in the new game she will be given her own slot on the character select screen.

Older incarnations of the character lacked physical power, so to help even the odds she has a brand new pair of heels which double up as jet booster. New Zero Suit Samus has a speed advantage and a whole range of new mobility options. They come in pretty handy for adding a little more power to her kicks too.

Of course, she's also got a gun at hand and her energy whip.


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Sheik

Series: The Legend of Zelda
Debut: Ocarina of Time
Smash Bros appearance: Melee

Sheik is the third returning character that was previously a variation on another cast member but has graduated into fully-fledged Smasher.

For the most part Sheik will have the same move-set, with two notable new additions. The first, Burst Grenade, is a little bomb that you can throw and then blow up on command. The second, Bouncing Fish, is described as an "acrobatic kick technique using the heel of the foot".

It seems Sheik hasn't been the subject of too many big changes, which means that she'll probably be weak but very, very fast. The character becomes a big threat in later stages of the fight, when other players have taken a lot of damage. At these points her knockback capabilities are greatly increased.


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Yoshi

Series: Mario
Debut: Super Mario World
Smash Bros appearance: Super Smash Bros.

Yoshi is back and this time he can stand upright. Yes, you read that correctly.

The big new change for Mario's faithful companion is that he will no longer move like a bent-backed dinosaur. To be in line with more recent versions of him, he'll stand upright. According to Nintendo this will make him "even stronger".

His signature moves, the egg toss and egg lay, in which he gobbles up other fighters and leaves them trapped inside an egg for a short period of time, also make a return. His air scramble, crucial for helping him get back on platforms, since he doesn't have a triple jump, is also back.


The Stages

The characters are only one part of the Smash Bros nostalgia formula. Nintendo's worlds are just as well-loved as those who inhabit them. What are Mario, Link and the Animal Crossing Villager without the Mushroom Kingdom, Hyrule and whatever rude name you gave your Animal Crossing town?

Whereas each character features in both the Wii U and 3DS versions of Smash Bros 4 (to enable the transfer of character stats between each game), each version will instead have a completely different set of stages.

The Wii U version will consist solely of stages from console games: Super Mario Galaxy, Mega Man 2, Pikmin 3 and the like. Meanwhile, the 3DS game's stages will all be based on handheld games like Fire Emblem: Awakening, Mario Kart 7 and Nintendogs.

Wii U stages


3DS stages


Assist Trophies


Items



Smash Run

Smash Bros. 4 on 3DS will have a unique competitive dungeon-crawling mode Nintendo has called 'Smash Run'.

Played by up to four players, combatants start off in different areas of a large map and must run through the sprawling area to collect stat-boosting items. These will aid them in a super-powered final battle which ensues when a timer reaches zero and each player is thrown into an arena to duke it out. The new mode will not appear in the Wii U version.

Smash Run will feature enemies from across numerous franchises, including Mettaur from Megaman, Bulbour from Pikmin, Mimicutie from Kid Icarus, and dozens of others. Players that defeat these enemies along the way will be rewarded with items and more stat-boosting pick-ups.

Sakurai said the mode is partially inspired by the City Trial mode in Kirby's Air Ride.

Here's some screenshots and a video for it:

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Miscellaneous bits and pieces

The final piece of the Smash Bros pie is the countless little surprises and hidden details that reveal themselves the longer you play the game. From the wide cast of supporting cameos who appear as Assist Trophies to the weapons and items from Nintendo games old and new, there are literally hundreds of references tucked away and waiting to be discovered.

Masahiro Sakurai has been slowly revealing some of these surprises through his 'pic of the day' feature on the Smash Bros Miiverse community. Every day he'll post a screenshot from the game: sometimes it's just a funny picture, but sometimes it'll be a new feature revealed for the first time.

Here's a selection of the better revelations confirmed over the past few months. As more are announced we'll add them to the end of the gallery.

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