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Alive 11
The Jaguar PowerPad
a personal Review
        It wasn't until 2 or 3 years ago that I heard about the Jaguar
        Pad which I soon assumed to be the controller for the Jaguar
        console. But then I realized that this type of controller can be
        connected to STE and Falcon too.
        Most modern games since the mid-90s support this controller on
        STE and Falcon. So for me as a game developer it was quite
        natural to implement support for it as well as getting a pad

        I did get my personal Jaguar Powerpad (in short jagpad) this
        spring to connect and use it with my Falcon. Mine came boxed and
        still shrink-wrapped via eBay. A nice black cardboard box with a
        sleek, red Jaguar-logo displayed on the outside and of course a
        pad inside. Inside there was just the pad - well who had guessed
        to find more? It is genuine Atari hardware after all and Atari
        console equipment never needed any written instructions.

        My first impression on the pad itself was positive. It gave a
        rounded feeling of the all black pad with cross shaped main 
        controls and nice finger grips on the back. Main controls with 8
        directions on the left, 3 squared fire buttons labelled A,B and
        C on the right, between 2 smaller buttons, labelled PAUSE and 
        OPTION. Below is a telephone style keyboard with 12 additional 
        keys. Those keys look rather small and flimsy and I wondered how
        they are handled.

        I plugged the pad into port A on my Falcon and loaded up Godpey
        by the Reservoir Gods to try it out. The pad responded to my
        input and simply worked. However none of the buttons nor the
        main control have a reasonable click. It feels a bit wobbly all
        over, all plastic and even the Atari Logo on top can't help

        Game support for the jagpad is sparse although developing. Most
        modern games e.q. post-90s productions support the jagpad well.
        Titles with jagpad support are Dynabusters, Breakdance, games by
        the Reservoir Gods and all modern and upcoming games by
        Paradize. This changes when using a Jaguar console of course as
        you can only connect jagpads to the Jaguar so all Jaguar games
        are played with a jagpad.

        From a coder's point of view the jagpad is rather easy to
        handle. You have 2 registers, one is an address register where
        you select which group of buttons to read and one is a data
        register where you can find the corresponding input. For you
        GFABASIC coders out there is a ready-to-use routine to poll the
        important buttons of a Jagpad in port A on STE or Falcon has
        been included and you can find it in the files section of this
        issue of Alive or on the Paradize website. Coders in other
        languages or in m68k machine code will surely be able to adapt
        the source to their needs. Make sure to access the registers in
        supervisor and check for STE or Falcon first. Hopefully all
        upcoming games for STE and Falcon will support the jagpad in
        future if possible.

        It is even possible to connect the Jaguar Powerpad to a standard
        joystick port even on plain STs. You just need to build yourself
        a small adaptor:

        15 pin high density D socket                      9 pin D socket

                      14 O------------------------------O 1
                      13 O------------------------------O 2
                      12 O------------------------------O 3
                      11 O------------------------------O 4
                      10 O------------------------------O 6
                       7 O------------------------------O 7
                       9 O----------------*-------------O 8
                       4 O----------------*
                       3 O----------------*
                       2 O----------------+

        This works because the joypad and the joystick both work on
        "negative logic" - i.e. a LOW value is considered to be TRUE. By
        connecting the control lines of the joypad to 0V, all the
        buttons are effectively ORed together. For use as a joystick,
        this allows you to use UP, DOWN, LEFT, RIGHT and any of the fire
        buttons. Several of the other buttons will also mirror these
        effects, although that should not cause any problems.

        (taken from the great Atari EJP FAQ) 


        * genuine Atari controller
        * digital control
        * lots of buttons
        * rounded and hand fitting exterior
        * large pad so people with big hands won't get problems
        * long connection cable
        * possibility to add inlays with instructions
        * can be connected to standard 9pin joystick port with small adaptor

        * generic plastic feeling
        * no click or noticeable key press
        As a conclusion I wouldn't say it is a must-have due to the fact
        that game support is somewhat limited on STE and Falcon. Anyway
        it is a nice pad and I personally would prefer a click-de-click
        feeling of the buttons. If there wasn't that all-plastic
        feeling, I'd say "go get it" but as it is you don't really need
        to. This won't apply to collectors or hardcore Jaguar fans of

        My final comment on the Jaguar pad surely is "The Jaguar plastic 

                            Simon Sunnyboy / Paradize for Alive, 2005-10-24
Alive 11