Skyrim – Nordic Legend ‘self-sufficiency’ challenge

April 20, 2018

Welcome to the Skyrim – Nordic Legend ‘self-sufficiency’ challenge.

This is something I’ve recently started, based on ideas obtained from various Skyrim challenges. It’s not particularly a roleplaying challenge, and it’s not intended to be crushingly punishing or extremely tedious, although it is to be played entirely on Legendary difficulty. I’ll post updates on an infrequent basis; if you take up the challenge, please add a comment or two to let me know how you’re getting on with it.

Overall purpose of this challenge: To be entirely self-sufficient on Legendary difficulty, and to abide strictly by the rules of the challenge.

Almost all the challenge rules do not require ‘player honesty’ or remembering ‘roleplay’ specific elements, as they can be continually checked against the recorded stats for the character. An exception to this is the first set of restrictions (see below) regarding the player state on leaving Helgen.

Character creation and state on leaving Helgen.

Race: Nord

Difficulty: Legendary. This cannot be changed at any time after leaving Helgen.


Restrictions upon leaving Helgen…

> Player must accompany Ralof and not Hadvar – the Stormcloak side must always be chosen.
> Player must be level 1.
> No skills are to be improved before leaving Helgen via the cave exit into the main game world.
> Player’s inventory must be completely empty. Anything being carried must be dropped before leaving through the cave exit.
> Gold carried must be 0.
> Player must be wearing nothing.
> Player must be wielding no weapon or shield.

Consistent restrictions (i.e. for the rest of the time this character is played)…

> Can only wear, wield and use items, potions and food crafted yourself. This means no bought, found or looted items can be used by the player. This includes weapons, armour, potions, food. However, all items (whether looted, found or crafted) can be sold in order to buy crafting materials.

> No magic spells can be used or learned apart from the two starter spells – Healing and Flames.

> Nothing can be stolen. This means that anything in the world marked ‘STEAL’ cannot be opened, unlocked, taken, or otherwise manipulated by the player or a follower.

> Pick-pocketing is not allowed at all.

> The murder of innocent NPCs is not allowed. i.e. Don’t attack any person who isn’t attacking you, unless that person is a quest target. (Yes, you can kill Grelod The Kind if you have the appropriate quest active).

> Waiting is not allowed.

> Cart travel is not allowed.

> Vanilla game should be played – no mods, particularly any that add or improve weapons, armour, or any crafting skills.

Actions that are allowed, which may not be clear from the restrictions…

> Followers can be equipped with anything you find, loot or craft.

> You are allowed to disenchant found and looted items, and to enchant items that you have crafted.

> Anything crafted by the player can be used by the player. This includes unique items such as the Aetherial Crown.

> Houses may be bought and used by the player.

> Sleeping (e.g. in a player house, at an inn, or on bedroll out in the world) is allowed.

> Fast travel to locations previously discovered by the player is allowed.

> Shouts are allowed.

> Perks can be put into any skill tree.

> Cooking, Smithing, Alchemy and Enchanting are all allowed.

> Filled soul gems that are found or bought can be used by the player.

> All crafting materials may be bought, including ingots.

General objectives / win conditions

> Progress as far as possible in the main quest line.

> Progress as far as possible in the civil war quest line, taking the Stormcloak side.

> Acquire 100,000 gold at one time (i.e. have that much in your inventory at least once).

That’s it. Actually pretty straightforward despite the lengthy description of the challenge. So far, I’ve made a fairly decent start in the first half hour, getting to Riverwood and crafting a full set of leather armour and an iron warhammer. I obviously took Sven’s side, and not Faendal’s, because Nords have to stick together. Sven’s turning out to be not too bad at all with a one-handed sword, but I don’t intend keeping him around for very long.

I’ll be concentrating on these skills:
> Two-Handed
> Light Armour
> Smithing
> Enchanting

And I’ll have  some interest in:
> Alchemy
> Restoration

Initially, up to level 20, I’ll be stacking level-up health and stamina in an 80:20 ratio, so by level 20 I should have 220 Health and 170 Stamina. After that, it will probably be 50:50 Health and Stamina.

If you’re really lucky, I’ll add some videos of significant moments…


Battle Princess Madelyn – teaser trailer #1

September 22, 2017

This definitely looks like it’s going to rule.

Press release information:

September 20th 2017, Nova Scotia, Canada – Causal Bit Games is excited to present a stunning new trailer to commemorate the recent success on Kickstarter of Battle Princess Madelyn, that quadrupled the target set, and also to thank the many fans who have supported the game is set to release on PC, PS4, Vita, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch and Wii U – which is due for release first quarter 2018.


  • Story mode allows players to explore the vast world of Princess Madelyn – uncover the secrets of the kingdom and beyond.
  • A 10 level Arcade mode for the action hungry old school game player – levels designed specifically for a fast action arcade experience.
  • Join Madelyn on her quest of self-discovery as she helps others, and not just herself, to becomes a wiser more mature knight and to save her family and kingdom from the clutches of evil.
  • An array of weaponry to choose from, each with its own unique abilities, which are also modified by the three different types of armor the player can receive on their way through the game.
  • Meet many different characters as Madelyn builds a support system throughout the kingdom.
  • Loads of ghouls, demons and bosses to crush on your way to becoming the kingdom’s most powerful defender.

Danmaku Unlimited 3 review (iOS / Universal)

August 10, 2017

10 word description: Bullet hell sequel. New modes. Unlockable firing methods. Beginner-friendly.

10 word review: Beautiful, intense, and tough as you want it to be.

You will like this if you enjoy: Bullet hell shooters. Seeing a screen full of gorgeous geometric shapes moving very, very fast.

The good news: A truly beautiful experience, both visually and the way it sounds. The controls are as intuitive and unobtrusive as possible, with no on-screen buttons, and minimal swipe controls that are virtually impossible to get wrong. Even the menus are crisp, clear and as gorgeous as the rest of the game.

The bad news: The game is hardly original, but then how could anyone genuinely expect a totally original gaming experience from the third game in a series within a genre that is as niche as bullet hell shooters? 

Arcadelife verdict: While it doesn’t really attempt anything groundbreaking, there’s a deeply compelling purity to the style, intensity and gameplay of DU3. The minor tweaks and improvements to what has gone before in this series are well-considered and definitely improve the overall experience. For bullet-hell fans, particularly fans of the genre on mobile devices, DU3 is an easy recommendation, with the very minor caveat that it isn’t going to blow your mind with its originality… only with its stunning beauty.

Arcadelife rating

Presentation – 9.5/10
Visuals – 9.5/10
Controls – 9/10
Content – 8/10
Fun – 8/10
Final rating – 9/10


Rating categories explained here.
Version reviewed by Arcadelife is 1.0.4
iTunes link
Arcadelife played and reviewed this game on:
iPhone 6 (iOS 10.3.2)
iPad Pro (iOS 10.3.2)
This review was typed on a Das Keyboard Model S mechanical keyboard – check them out, they’re really rather groovy.

Preview – Danmaku Unlimited 3 (iOS)

July 22, 2017

There are a couple of things worth mentioning before I start: First, there’s no personal opinion (of DU3) or any kind of review material in this article because I have been asked not to publish a review until the game’s iOS release date – 10 August 2017. Second, the images in this preview are taken from my own iPhone 6 and iPad Pro, and they have been compressed to .jpg format to save space on my WordPress account, so any lack of quality in the images is because of the compression, not the game’s visuals.

One thing I can get away with saying, is that I played the hell out of Danmaku Unlimited 2, loved every second, and I was still playing it on a fairly regular basis until a promo code for DU3 turned up.

Here’s some info from the press release: “Inspired by legendary classics like Ikaruga, Dodonpachi and Touhou, Danmaku Unlimited 3 is a lovingly crafted medley of the best aspects of Japanese Bullet Hell games, but with an innovative twist that makes it an accessible package perfectly suited as a gateway into the world of Bullet Hell. Initially available on PC/Steam, the game is now returning to its roots (Danmaku 1 and 2 were originally mobile titles) in a no-compromise premium port for iOS and Android.

This is the feature list from the press release:

• Console grade Bullet Hell experience fully realized for mobile.
• Medley of the best aspects of classic Japanese Bullet Hell shooters in a modern HD package with its own innovative twist.
• Premium experience: Perfect 1 to 1 port of the PC Version with no Ads or iAP of any kind.
• Pixel perfect touch movement with innovative virtual button free controls.
• Epic campaign across 2 unique game modes each with their own mechanics and scoring.
• Tons of weapon customization and extra unlocks.
• Brand new SPIRIT/GRAZE system gives beginners an exciting and stylish experience while rewarding skillful high risk plays that genre veterans are capable of.
• Chase high-scores with Gamecenter/Google Play leaderboards/achievements integration.
• Rocking soundtrack by the talented indie circle Blankfield from Tokyo.

Here are a couple of closing comments from the game’s creator: “The game will launch universally on iOS and Android on August 10th with an introductory price of 4.99USD (It will rise to closer to the PC version after). High quality images can also be found on the game’s DU3 website.)”

I’ll be posting a review here on Arcadelife on (or very soon after) 10 August 2017.

Don’t forget to support a struggling, unknown, unloved (and hopelessly melodramatic) author by at least having a look at my other website.


Danmaku Unlimited 3 – coming to iOS

June 30, 2017

I’m not even going out on a limb here, because this is guaranteed – Danmaku Unlimited 3 is going to completely rule on iOS. August is looking great so far – Boyka: Undisputed on the 1st, DU3 on the 10th. I might even review DU3, even though all my free time these days is devoted to writing and spectacularly failing to market my novels.


Titan Quest review (iOS / Universal)

May 19, 2016

titan quest img_0778

It’s here, at last – Titan Quest for iOS. Ten years after it was released on PC, here is one of the many action RPGs that followed in Diablo’s huge, fiery footsteps, but this one managed to convince many players that it was actually a better game. I have been playing it on iPhone 6 and iPad Air, and it has done a fair bit more than just bring back a few fond memories of an old PC game.

titan quest img_0764
For the purposes of this review, and keeping it fairly short, I’ve decided not to go into detail about the game content, classes, loot, skill trees, in fact pretty much everything that has been exhaustively covered all over the internet since 2006. I’ll focus on how the game plays on mobile devices (large and small), and what sort of a job DotEmu have done with transferring a fairly complex mouse & keyboard control system to a touch-screen interface.

titan quest img_0824

Before you ask, all the images in this review were taken by me on while I was playing Titan Quest on either an iPhone 6 or iPad Air. Click on any of them to view the full size image.

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First of all, the touch screen interface for the main game is extremely good. It is abundantly clear that a huge amount of thought, consideration, and play-testing has gone into this. Looking at the end result, I would bet that DotEmu tried various types of control interface before arriving at the final version. It is just very, very good. Personally, I would have provided an option to use relative touch on the left side of the screen instead of the d-pad, but that’s just because I always want a relative touch option.

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Moving your character around is easy, responsive, and never really feels any more awkward than it did with the mouse on PC. If anything, this kind of direct movement control will feel more natural for many players. Assigning skills to the hotkey buttons is straightforward and allows you to put skills wherever you want, within the limitations of the button positions. I haven’t had any problem triggering attacks or spells, so I’m completely happy with how they have set this up.

titan quest img_0821

There are a few minor issues with the control interface, but nothing anywhere near game-breaking. In NPC conversations, I found I had to move away and click the ‘talk’ icon again in order to get the follow-up part of a conversation or trigger a quest completion after the initial ‘well done’ chat. Once you’re aware of it, it isn’t an issue but it isn’t ideal. In fights where loot is dropping all over the place (which is a lot of the time) I sometimes found that my character was going into ‘collect loot’ mode instead of ‘hit things with a big sword’ mode. Again, once you’re aware of it, you can take steps to avoid it, but it will still occasionally occur and it can be slightly irritating if you don’t realise it’s happening during a tough scrap.

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Inventory management on the iPad screen is fine. I encountered various issues on the smaller iPhone 6 screen, particularly when trying to select and move single-block items (e.g. rings, amulets, potions and power-up components). Text also appears very small on the iPhone screen, with the game having a rather more fiddly overall feel than on the iPad, where it absolutely shines as a remarkable touch-screen achievement.

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In addition to the wonderful job of creating a clear, attractive, and very responsive new control interface for the game, there is also a clever feature for spell/skill use which replaces the original point-and-key-click with a drag-to-target mechanism. Whenever you tap and hold a spell icon, the action slows down into a kind of bullet-time mode while you drag your fireball spell or whatever to its target. Once you release, the action speeds back up to normal again, with an appropriate sound cue, and the spell hurtles to its destination. Very slick, very useful, and – most of the time – it works absolutely perfectly.

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Briefly, for anyone who hasn’t played Titan Quest (or Grim Dawn on PC/Steam, which is TQ’s darker, faster, and more thematically modern offspring) you run around slaughtering hordes of enemies, level up, collect loot, and repeat for dozens of enjoyable, carnage-strewn hours. At level 2 you select your first mastery (one of eight different classes), each with its own set of skills that can be unlocked and assembled into your own unique skill/spell choice as you progress. At level 8 (it’s 10 in Grim Dawn but you get there a little quicker in that game) you have the option to choose a second mastery (class) from the remaining seven classes, but it is entirely up to you whether you do that or stick with your single original class. Most players will opt to fill out there skills with some different ones from a second class, but that’s the sheer beauty of this game – it is entirely up to you.

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To summarise, Titan Quest is a classic PC action RPG that has been ported to iOS devices with an excellent touch-screen interface, with all the original game features and content included, and no in-app-purchases at all. It’s slightly disappointing that the Immortal Throne expansion isn’t included because it addressed several gameplay issues with Titan Quest and enhanced the overall experience. Despite that minor gripe, this is still a great game and it is certainly a brilliant touch screen port.

titan quest img_0768

The shopkeeper wants you to buy this game. I think you should.

Arcadelife rating

Presentation – 9.5/10
Visuals – 9/10
Controls – 9/10
Content – 9/10
Fun – 8.5/10
Final rating – 9/10

Rating categories explained here.
Version reviewed by Arcadelife is 1.0.0
iTunes link

Arcadelife played and reviewed this game on:
iPhone 6
iPad Air

This review was typed on a Das Keyboard Model S mechanical keyboard – check them out, they’re really rather groovy.

I also write novels. Find out more: jwtapper.co.uk


Titan Quest iOS – Dev Diary 2

May 13, 2016

This has just been added on YouTube.

I played the hell out of Titan Quest on PC. The touch interface looks absolutely brilliant – great job, DotEmu. Now I just can’t wait to play this all over again on iPad, ten years after it was first released.