List of unofficial media acknowledged by Nintendo

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Like all longstanding and popular franchises, the Super Mario franchise has been the subject of many knockoffs, bootlegs, and parodies. While there are many such infringing products made, only a relative few are known to have come to the attention of Nintendo themselves. Many unlicensed and unofficial games and products accused of infringing on Nintendo's copyrights have also been removed from sale, taken down, or dealt with through legal action without public word from either Nintendo, the infringing party, or any other parties involved.

This page contains a list of notable examples of Super Mario knockoffs, bootlegs, and fan games and projects that have been acknowledged by and/or were the subject of legal action from Nintendo.

Games[edit]

Crazy Kong[edit]

Main article: Crazy Kong

Crazy Kong was an officially-licensed clone of Donkey Kong, developed by Falcon under license from Nintendo. Although the terms of the contract limited manufacturing and distribution of Crazy Kong to Japan, Falcon broke the agreement by exporting the game to the United States. In response, Nintendo terminated the contract and sued Elcon, an arcade hardware distributor that sold Crazy Kong boards. The case went to the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan, which ruled in favor of Nintendo.[1]

Dendy/Steepler games (Somari, Mario 16)[edit]

The Dendy is a Russian bootleg of Nintendo's Family Computer, released by Steepler in 1992. Despite the poor economy in Russia, the system was very successful, selling over 1 million machines. Due to the Dendy's success, Nintendo officially partnered with Steepler to distribute legitimate Nintendo consoles in Russia, and allowed the Dendy and all of its pirated games to continue production.[2] As such, games like Somari and Mario 16 (both of which were distributed by Steepler during the Nintendo partnership, and shown in the TV series "Dendy: The New Reality"), alongside countless counterfeit versions of authentic Super Mario games, were theoretically known about and endorsed by Nintendo.[3]

Era's Adventures 3D[edit]

Artwork from Era's Adventure 3D, a Mario knockoff game for Android.
Artwork of Era's Adventures 3D
Era (ORIGINAL CHARACTER DO NOT STEAL) being wholly inconspicuous.
Era's new design

Era's Adventures 3D was a mobile game released on the Marketplace for Android phones, developed by Andev.[4] The game features a green, female[5] dinosaur named Era, who appears identical to Yoshi. The player must control Era to shoot flaming mucus at objects such as boxes and crates. The gameplay is extremely basic,[6][dead link] making the game's most noteworthy feature its use of the Yoshi look-alike character. Era's Adventures 3D was released in late February 2013, and Nintendo took legal action only two weeks later. Botond Kopacz, who was largely involved with the development of Era's Adventures 3D, stated that he was not a fan of the Super Mario series and had no knowledge on the Yoshi character.[7]

"Actually this is an indie game developed by one developer, so due to the limitation of effort, I purchased a cute character from TurboSquid, one of the biggest 3D asset stores, without knowing the background story of the character Yoshi, since I'm not a Super Mario fan.... Once the game was released on the Play Store, after spending hundreds of hours in making the game, I started receiving 'kind' mails from Super Mario fans that I stole Yoshi, etc. So I started Googling and I realized that the character is really from the Super Mario series."

The game was briefly removed from Google Play, but was re-released later with a slightly altered design for Era, which gave the character a blue color scheme and a backwards cap. The game was later taken off Google Play permanently a few months later, and in 2014 the game returned under the name Jack 3D, featuring an original character.[8][dead link]

Mole Kart[edit]

Screenshot of Mole Kart, an iOS knockoff of the Mario Kart series.
Screenshot of a course from Mole Kart called Mushroom X, which looks nearly identical to Mushroom Gorge from Mario Kart Wii

Mole Kart is an iOS/Android game developed and published by Chinese company Shanghai Shengran Information Technology. It was available on the App Store for iOS devices (iPhone, iPad, and iPod Touch) and on Google Play Store for Android devices. Players have the choice of several characters from the Mole Man series.

The game was first released on the App Store in early 2012, though it was soon removed by Apple due to a copyright claim from Nintendo, due to gameplay trailers featuring graphic assets that looked conspicuously identical to those of the Mario Kart series, especially Mario Kart Wii, sharing almost identical settings, items and course maps, some of the courses include versions of Mushroom Gorge, Moo Moo Meadows and GCN Peach Beach.[9][10] However, it was re-released on iOS in May 2012. The newer version contained only four of the courses from the original release, with the only major difference in the courses themselves being the themes of the GBA Bowser Castle 3 and N64 Sherbet Land copies having their overall themes swapped.

Power Player Super Joy III[edit]

The Power Player Super Joy III is a plug & play system shaped like a Nintendo 64 controller, first released around 2000. While games vary between units, the majority of them feature bootleg versions of Mario Bros., Super Mario Bros., Wrecking Crew, and Donkey Kong Jr., among others. The console gained high popularity in the United States, often being sold in shopping malls, dollar stores, and flea markets. After Nintendo had learned about the Super Joy III, they seized over 60,000 units from various U.S. locations, and had several distributors arrested.[11][12]

Despite Nintendo's ambitious takedowns, the Super Joy III (rebranded as the Power Kracker in the early 2010s) is still sold to this day. The systems now have a secret switch that makes the game list only feature three Nice Code games, presumably so retailers can trick law enforcement into believing they are generic plug and play consoles which do not infringe any copyright.[13] This is likely due to Nintendo's anti-piracy website labeling the console with a warning, which reads "The device infringes Nintendo's intellectual property rights if it contains Nintendo's copyrighted games"; none of these games are featured in the secret menu.[14]

Princess Rescue[edit]

Princess Rescue was a homebrew cartridge for the Atari 2600 that drew obvious inspiration from the Super Mario franchise. The player controls a hero identical to Mario through side-scrolling levels, and each world ends with a boss battle against "BJ", who appears to be based on Bowser Jr. While physical copies of game were originally for sale in 2013[15], it became unavailable later in the year, and a number of hints suggest that this was due to Nintendo sending a cease and desist[16]. The ROM for the game is still available online as a free download.[17]

Super Mario Bros. 64[edit]

Around the same time Princess Rescue was taken down, a programmer going by the codename "ZeroPaige" created a homebrew port of Super Mario Bros. for the Commodore 64, which started development in 2012 until its completion in 2019. Known as Super Mario Bros. 64 (not to be confused with Super Mario 64), the game's title screen features an outline of the artwork originally done by Shigeru Miyamoto for the Japanese cover of the original game, and featured the option to switch between the NTSC and PAL framerates of 60 FPS and 50 FPS, respectively. The homebrew port had different visuals and audio compared to the NES release due to the differences in technical specifications between it and the Commodore 64. Every level from World 1-1 to World 8-4 was accurately replicated, especially compared to Princess Rescue, which had half of the levels of the original game. It was made fully playable on physical Commodore 64 computers and unofficial emulators until three days after its release when Nintendo gave "ZeroPaige" and their Super Mario Bros. 64 a DMCA takedown notice. The game still exists, but very few ROMs remain due to Nintendo issuing a takedown of every website hosting a link to the original download.[18]

The Great Giana Sisters[edit]

Screenshot of The Great Giana Sisters.
SMBLevel.png
The first level of The Great Giana Sisters (top), which bears a great resemblance to that of Super Mario Bros. (bottom).

Released in 1987 on the Commodore 64 and later on several other home computer platforms, The Great Giana Sisters was developed by Time Warp Productions published by German game developer Rainbow Arts. It features a girl named Giana, who finds herself in a world full of monsters after mysteriously falling asleep. The player must travel through the world, searching for a hidden diamond which will awaken Giana.

The game received almost immediate attention from players (and later the video game industry), due to the game's overall design and mechanics being extremely similar to that of Super Mario Bros.. The game's first level is nearly identical to that of Super Mario Bros., as well as the game's elements (squat owls and yellow blocks, resembling Goombas and ? Blocks, respectively), and the gameplay itself.[19] Some versions of the game also feature on the box art graffiti on a brick wall that says "The Brothers Are History!" Because of the games' similarities, Nintendo pressured the developers to pull the game from retail shelves.[20] Copies of the game were eventually withdrawn from sale, and it still remains a collector's item to this day.

Around the time of the game's release, a sequel was in development, titled Giana 2 – Arthur And Martha In Future World. Due to the legal issues surrounding the first game, some assets were changed and the game was retitled Hard'n'Heavy, though Nintendo still stopped it from seeing a release in the United Kingdom despite it getting a small release in other countries.[21]

Later, in 2009, a sequel called Giana Sisters DS was released in Europe, and later in North America, and even later a second sequel was crowdfunded and developed, titled Giana Sisters: Twisted Dreams. Since both of these games were drastically different in appearance from any Super Mario game, neither of these games faced any sort of legal issues from Nintendo.

Various plug and play consoles[edit]

Around the same time as the aforementioned Power Player Super Joy III's release, Nintendo set up an anti-piracy website showing pictures of the device, among various other bootleg plug & plays.[14] A Spanish document was also produced with the same intention, which shows several more systems.[22] All of the plug & plays shown are based on Famicom/NES clone hardware, and featured various 80's Super Mario titles built-in. The other consoles shown include:

  • Power Player 2 - Actually titled the Power Player 128-in-1 - Digimon Aventure [sic]. Features bootleg hacks of Mario Bros., Donkey Kong, and Donkey Kong Jr. (though it was likely Pikachu's inclusion on the title screen that caused it to appear in Nintendo's list).[23]
  • Power Games - Features Mario Bros., Super Mario Bros., Dr. Mario, and the Donkey Kong trilogy.[24]
  • Gun Fighter
  • Mega Games 118 in 1 - Features Mario Bros., Dr. Mario, Wrecking Crew, the Donkey Kong trilogy, "Power Mario", "Sun Fan Mario", and "Swimming Mario".[25]
  • Megajoy II
  • Gamekids Advance
  • Super Games
  • Xtreme Player II

Unlike the Super Joy III, no known legal action was taken against the systems, despite Nintendo acknowledging them.

Film[edit]

Super Hornio Brothers[edit]

The box of Super Hornio Brothers

Super Hornio Brothers is a two-part pornographic parody of the Super Mario series, released in 1993, in anticipation of the actual Super Mario Bros. film. The film features a man named Squeegie Hornio and his brother Ornio (parodies of Luigi and Mario, respectively) who fall into a computer's black void and are stuck there. They learn that Princess Perlina has been kidnapped by King Pooper (parodies of Princess Peach and Bowser, respectively) and must be rescued. Along the way, the two brothers are separated, leaving Squeegie to fight King Pooper alone. He is almost killed, but Ornio suddenly arrives and kills King Pooper by pushing him into lava. He and Princess Perlina then teleport back to Earth, accidentally leaving Squeegie behind. A sequel, entitled Super Hornio Brothers II, was released later that year.

According to lead actor Ron Jeremy, the distribution rights for the film were quickly bought by Nintendo, making any release impossible.[26] Due to its rarity and unusual history, the film has become a collector's item and has attracted attention from several online entertainment sites.[27]

Fan projects[edit]

Dreams[edit]

A fan-made model of Mario in Dreams, which was taken down. For use on the List of unofficial media acknowledged by Nintendo page.
Image of a custom Mario model created by Piece of Craft in Dreams, which was removed due to a copyright complaint by Nintendo

Dreams, a PlayStation 4 game focused on user-created content, including characters and games, had its Super Mario-related content removed from its servers due to a copyright complaint from Nintendo.[28] The creator, Piece of Craft, shared the news on their Twitter account with the following statement: "Good news and bad news. We flew too close to the sun, boys! A big video game company who I will keep nameless obviously didn't read my 'be cool' note in Dreams. No worries, though, have a back up plan. But for now, Mario projects in Dreams are on hold until I put said plan into effect." They have stated that they are not sure what will happen to creations that use Super Mario content, though the creator can still remix it; they just cannot edit the content or share it with others.

Full Screen Mario[edit]

Full Screen Mario was a browser-based remake of Super Mario Bros. coded in HTML5. It included all of the original game's levels, along with a level editor and a random level generator[29]. After attracting a large amount of visitors and attention from online sources, Nintendo sent a DMCA complaint to FullScreenMario.com. The site was taken down on November 1, 2013, and replaced a page explaining why.[29] Despite the website being taken down, Full Screen Mario itself was still hosted on the open-source repository GitHub, until Nintendo sent a takedown notice to GitHub on May 12, 2016, shortly after Full Screen Mario creator Josh Goldberg had mentioned it in an interview with Microsoft's Open Source department.[30][31] It can still be found on other websites, however.

Mario Is Missing: Peach's Untold Tale[edit]

Mario Is Missing: Peach's Untold Tale was a pornographic Adobe Flash game focused on Princess Peach that started development in 2012 and was available for free to play online. The game received continuous updates since its release until its last update launched on April 19, 2020, at which point the game entered a hiatus due to the COVID-19 pandemic before Nintendo issued a DMCA notice on September 21, 2020, causing the creator to drop the project.[32]

Mario Royale[edit]

Mario Royale was an online version of Super Mario Bros. which allowed 75 players to race each other through each of the game's levels, akin to a battle royale game. After the game was acknowledged by Nintendo, it became DMCA Royale (also known as Infringio Royale), which replaced the game's copyrighted sprites and music with original assets and slightly altered the level design. Mario was replaced with an original player character named Infringio. DMCA Royale was also acknowledged by Nintendo, and the game was eventually taken down completely.[33][34] Later, the game got re-hosted on cyuubi.xyz with more maps and multiple skins, but got taken down out of fear of getting another cease-and-desist letter.[35] The game was then re-hosted again[36] and remade two times.[37][38] Later, in celebration of the 35th anniversary of Super Mario Bros., Nintendo officially announced a limited-time battle royale game with mechanics similar to Tetris 99, Super Mario Bros. 35.

Newer Super Mario Bros. Wii[edit]

Newer Super Mario Bros. Wii is a ROM hack of New Super Mario Bros. Wii. Created over the span of 3 years, it was released on June 23, 2013, with new levels and enemies. It was later acknowledged by Nintendo when the Yoshi's Adventure attraction at the Super Nintendo World theme park area in Osaka used a cactus prop that bore a striking resemblance to a background cactus used in Newer Super Mario Bros. Wii. This was most likely done on accident, as the cactus from Newer Super Mario Bros. Wii was a popular Google Images result when searching "New Super Mario Bros. cactus".[39]

No Mario's Sky[edit]

No Mario's Sky screenshot.
Screenshot showing gameplay of No Mario's Sky

No Mario's Sky was an indie game created by ASMB Studio and hosted at indie website itch.io during August 2016, for the Ludum Dare game jam.[40] The game was intended to be a parody of No Man's Sky using characters from the Super Mario franchise. In the game, Mario takes a rocket and rides to other planets, which are in fact round-shaped Super Mario Bros. styled levels with enemies which function like Goombas. Like other similar fan projects, No Mario's Sky received a takedown notice from Nintendo[41], and was removed from itch.io. Some days later, a reworked version was released, jokingly entitled DMCA's Sky, which had independent characters replaced.[42]

Super Mario 64 HD[edit]

Super Mario 64 HD was a fan tech demo of a high-definition remake of Super Mario 64, produced in the Unity game engine by programmer Erik Roystan Ross to demonstrate his "Super Character Controller"[43], an input plugin for the Unity engine. The demo, consisting only of a semi-complete recreation of Bob-omb Battlefield, was published on March 12, 2015. Nintendo issued a takedown notice against the game on March 31, 2015, saying the website "allows users to play, an electronic game that makes unauthorized use of copyright-protected features of Nintendo's Super Mario 64 video game". Ross attributed it to the presence of models and sound effects ripped from Super Mario Galaxy[44].

Super Mario 64: Last Impact[edit]

Super Mario 64: Last Impact is a ROM hack for Super Mario 64 released in September 2016. The ROM hack in question, according to its creator, was considered similar to Super Mario Galaxy 2 in terms of scale and content compared to Super Mario 64 itself. With 130 Power Stars, new and familiar power-ups like F.L.U.D.D., new and familiar enemies like Fuzzies, and levels inspired by games like Mario Kart 64 and Sonic Adventure, it was an ambitious fan-sequel to Super Mario 64. However, the game received a DMCA takedown from Nintendo one month after its release, although the hack itself remains available for download.[citation needed]

Super Mario 64 Maker[edit]

Super Mario 64 Maker is a ROM hack for Super Mario 64 released in July 2017. It was considered a Super Mario 64 take on the creation formula of Super Mario Maker, hence the title, and allowed for players to create their own sandbox-styled levels. Eventually, in 2020, Nintendo issued a DMCA takedown to the game, although the hack itself remains available for download.

Super Mario 64 Online[edit]

Super Mario 64 Online is a ROM hack for Super Mario 64 released in September 2017. It adds online multiplayer for up to 24 players and other new features, such as new playable characters. Some of these included Luigi (who was actually planned for the original Super Mario 64 before being scrapped late in its development), Yoshi, Wario, and Waluigi. On September 20, 2017, Nintendo took down all YouTube videos related to the game on the creator's account as well as his Patreon page, although the hack itself remains available for download.[45]

Super Mario Bros. X[edit]

Super Mario Bros. X is a freeware PC fan game developed by Andrew Spinks (also known as Redigit, the developer of Terraria). The game is based on the SNES Super Mario platformers and features a level editor. Super Mario Bros. X also has elements from other games. Development on the game ceased after Redigit received a DMCA request from Miller Nash over the domain name of Super Mario Bros. X's website (which was "supermariobrothers.org"),[46] although whether or not this extended to Super Mario Bros. X itself has been debated among fans.[47][46]

Super Mario Bros. Z[edit]

Super Mario Bros. Z: The Movie[edit]

Super Mario Bros. Z: The Movie was a crowdfunding campaign on Kickstarter for a feature length episode of Super Mario Bros. Z, which is an animated fan video series crossing over Sonic the Hedgehog characters into the world of the Super Mario franchise, with story and battle sequences patterned after Dragon Ball Z. The episode was meant to serve as a finale to the original series, which at the time had been officially canceled by its creator, and a pilot for another similar web series. The Kickstarter (and by extension, the project) was canceled after receiving a takedown notice from Miller Nash, a law firm employed by Nintendo.[48]

Super Mario Bros. Z reboot[edit]

Super Mario Bros. Z was later rebooted by its original creator in late 2015, who set up a Patreon page to support the series. On February 15, 2016, the Patreon received a takedown notice from Nintendo.[49] The series creator has since created a new page to support him creating animations in general, as opposed to just Super Mario Bros. Z.

Super Mario ReMaker[edit]

Super Mario ReMaker was a fan-made level creating tool based on Super Mario Maker. The game was made by Lu9, who released the initial version on September 14, 2015.[50] While similar to the game upon which it was based, Super Mario ReMaker only features the Super Mario Bros. theme while focusing primarily on adding features and elements not present in Super Mario Maker, and additional Mystery Mushroom costumes based on other characters and properties. In January of 2016, the creator's YouTube channel was taken down, alongside the primary download links.[51] Despite this, the game can still be downloaded on other sites.

SuperMarioLogan[edit]

SuperMarioLogan, or "SML" for short, was the name of a YouTube channel created by Logan Austin Thirtyacre. The channel was known for presenting skits featuring plush toys of Super Mario characters (specifically those from San-ei's line), as well as other plushes and puppets of characters from other franchises and puppets of original characters. Although the channel's target demographic was mostly older audiences, a majority of the channel's fanbase consisted of a younger audience, which led to the channel creating controversy due to its use of inappropriate humor and mature themes. This, in turn, led to the channel being displayed on Good Morning America while discussing YouTube's incompetence in preventing inappropriate content with child-friendly characters from being viewed by children. The SuperMarioLogan channel was age-restricted by YouTube on December 11, 2017 and eventually demonetized on February 28, 2018, which lead to Thirtyacre moving to his secondary account SuperLuigiLogan, and eventually SuperBowserLogan when the SuperLuigiLogan channel suffered the same fate. On February 5, 2021, Thirtyacre[52] received a cease and desist letter from Nintendo[53] due to unauthorized use of Super Mario plushes for expletive and often raunchy humor in certain content, during which he discriminated against and offended certain ethnic backgrounds, in addition to making light of serious or tragic issues. It was also ordered that he change the names of all of his Super Mario-themed channels and no longer use the Super Mario plushes in any of his content. Both of these orders were followed, though the videos which used the plushes for years remain on the channels.

On March 17, 2021, Thirtyacre revealed he may have to move to a new channel and delete his other channels and all of the videos featuring the original plushes, including his main channel. However, he also revealed that they would be remaking all of these videos with the new puppets, taking the opportunity to remove or add jokes to improve the quality of these videos. He concluded by stating he would upload three revised videos each week, asking his viewers to subscribe to his new channel. Thirtyacre also revealed he had been demonetized and was not able to add anything else due to legal reasons, before also requesting his viewers subscribe to the channels of his siblings and friends.[54]

Other[edit]

MariCAR[edit]

MariCAR (since renamed Street Kart Osaka) is a go-karting service in Osaka, Japan, that takes customers through a guider tour of Osaka in go-karts, also providing costumes, including many whose appearances are based on characters of the Super Mario franchise. In September of 2016, Nintendo filed a report with the Japanese Patent Office asking that they revoke the trademark for MariCAR. Nintendo claimed that "MariCAR" was interpreted as an obvious abbreviation of Mario Kart. On January 26, 2017, however, the patent office dismissed Nintendo's case, stating that "MariCAR" was not a widely used abbreviation for Mario Kart.[55]

On February 24, 2017, Nintendo announced that they were suing MariCAR for ¥10 million in damages, claiming that the company did not obtain permission to use the Super Mario characters and that the service was infringing on their property.[56][57][55] The Tokyo District Court ruled in favor of Nintendo in September 2018, fining the company JP¥89,000.[58]

On December 24, 2020, the Japanese Supreme Court rejected a request for an appeal and ordered MariCAR to pay JP¥50 million in damage and other interests.[59][60]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Nintendo of America, Inc. v. Elcon Industries, Inc. (October 4, 1982). Google Scholar archive
  2. ^ "In November 1994, the newly created Dendy company signed an agreement with Nintendo, in which they were [...] given exclusive distribution rights to the SNES in Russia." https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dendy_(console)
  3. ^ Somari on "Dendy: The New Reality": https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Wzg3GQpRHLg
    Mario 16 on "Dendy: The New Reality": https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JetfzNDvGfw
  4. ^ (February 2013). Era's Adventures 3D Arrived. andev. Retrieved August 3, 2023. (Archived July 19, 2013, 00:01:18 UTC via Wayback Machine.)
  5. ^ arronmunroe (July 10, 2022). Era's Adventures Android 60fps. YouTube. Retrieved August 3, 2023.
  6. ^ Android game rips off Nintendo, has Yoshi as main character
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  9. ^ 5 Blatant App Store Ripoffs Of Nintendo Games
  10. ^ Mole Kart iPhone trailer looks familiar
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  16. ^ Retro Game Network article
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  22. ^ https://docplayer.es/43953659-El-programa-anti-pirateria-nintendo.html
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  24. ^ https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uhvtlhEnIi8
  25. ^ http://www.pertharcademachines.com.au/products/118-tv-game118-games/
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  40. ^ Game page for No Mario's Sky, before the DMCA notice from Nintendo (retrieved September 13, 2016 through archive.org)
  41. ^ DMCA No Mario's Sky takedown notice from Nintendo (retrieved September 13, 2016)
  42. ^ DMCA's Sky gamepage (retrieved September 13, 2016)
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  47. ^ Forum thread discussing the takedown
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  50. ^ [3]
  51. ^ CM30 (January 9, 2016). Looks like Super Mario ReMaker Might Be in Trouble. Gaming Reinvented. Retrieved May 24, 2016.
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  53. ^ https://sml.fandom.com/wiki/SML_(3rd_channel)
  54. ^ https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ISpEC0mVAcA
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