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 pic):

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 me).

 


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 left thumb.

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 options screen:

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 together:

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 better option.

 

Well, that's it!  Feel free to go back to the main Jaguar page, or check out info on the old-school Atari systemsIf 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 retro-awesomeness.