Tempest 2000 Spinner Mod
I had played Tempest 2000 on the Jaguar with the regular controller and to be honest, I never liked
it. It wasn't until I read about a hidden "rotary controller option" that I decided to give it another try
(scroll down for how to enable the hidden mode). Apparently, a "spinner" controller was planned for
release by Atari, so developer Jeff Minter programmed in a mode that allowed you to use a spinner and tested using a hacked
Atari 2600 driving controller. I did some searching and found an eBay seller who customized Jaguar
controllers with this option and thought I'd give it a try (click on the above picture for a full-sized
Nicolas Persijn's Rotary Controllers
I was impressed. Simply controlling the game with a spinner instead of a D-Pad changed the
entire feel of the game. Instead of playing for a few minutes, getting frustrated and turning it
off, I played for quite awhile. I guess the best way to describe the difference was to compare playing a game
on a device with lots of lag, vs playing the same game with no lag; It's technically the same game, but a
completely different experience. I'm not sure if I'd recommend getting a Jaguar just for this game /
controller combo, but if you already own a Jag, it seems like a must-buy.
As shown above, Nicolas offers a few choices; Each spinner can be the "clicky" style where
you feel a "bump" with every rotation, or just spin smoothly. My preference was the "smooth" version, but
it's really up to whoever's using it (Note: The original Tempest arcade spinner was "smooth"). You also have
a choice between replacing the D-Pad with a spinner, or mounting it on the back. Once again, this is total
preference, but I have a few suggestions:
If you only have one Jaguar controller (or none at all), definitely get the one with the spinner on
the back! It has a switch that allows you to change between D-Pad and spinner modes and is
comfortable to use; I'm right handed, so I preferred holding it "flipped over" with
the A - C buttons in my left hand and the spinner in my right (cable facing away from
After playing Tempest for about an hour and constantly swapping between the two, my favorite was
the version where the spinner replaced the D-Pad. Once again, being right-handed, I found
that holding it "upside down", with the cable facing me was the most comfortable; The spinner
felt extremely precise under my right thumb and the A - C buttons were easy to hit with my
Once again, that's all a matter of preference, but I thought I'd share my experience.
Enable Rotary Mode in Tempest 2000
The most basic way to enable rotary mode is to use two controllers: When you get to the main
"Select Game Type To Play" screen, hit "option" on controller 1 to enter the game options screen. Then
at the option screen, press the "pause" button on both controllers at the same time and you'll enable the
"controller type" menu option, which allows you to chose the rotary controller.
...but what if you don't have two controllers? There's two easy tricks you can use. One
is simply to bend a paperclip and insert it into the following pins on the 2nd controller port, when you're at the
If you'd like to avoid jamming a paperclip into your controller port, another solution is to make a
dongle that does the same thing. Here's what you'll need:
- One male VGA connector, such as this one.
- A shell for it, like this one.
(both of the above can mostly likely be found at a local Radio Shack or electronics store)
- A piece of wire, solder, soldering iron and the most basic soldering skills.
Solder the piece of wire to the following pins, then insert it into the backshell and bolt it all
Now, when you get to the options screen, just insert the dongle and hit "pause" on
controller one to access the menu. After the screen appears, you can remove the dongle:
Build Your Own
If you're interested in building your own rotary controller, there's a really in-depth topic on Racketboy that describes all different types of rotary controllers, as well
as a topic on Atariage with some good information.
Also, some people have hacked the Playstation Trackball and turned it into a spinner control for the PS1 version of
Tempest. Supposedly, that version is also very good and Jeff Minter even had positive things to say about it. If you own a PS1, but not a Jaguar, this might be the
Well, that's it! Feel free to go back to the main Jaguar page, or
check out info on the old-school Atari systems. If you'd like info on mods for other systems,
head to the Getting RGB From Each System page or check
out the main page for more