64JPX | JoyPad eXpander for the Commodore 64

I was going down a retro computing rabbit hole and I stumbled upon this fantastic little device that allows you to plug in more modern game pads into the Commodore 64. Specifically, NES, SNES and Sega Genesis, the 64JPX. This is a small interface that plugs into the DB9 ports of the Commodore, Atari and Amiga systems that give you the option to use Nintendo, Sega Genesis or even analog PC style of controllers. How this works? Sounds like magic to me.

One of the issues I have had in playing Commodore 64 games, specifically platformers, today is how I just don’t enjoy the push up to jump as the control. When playing the game from Protovision called “Sam’s Journey” is how it takes away from the enjoyment of the game to have to push up to jump. I should be fine with it, as that is what I grew up doing on games like Mr Robot and Jumpman Jr but some years have passed and Nintendo has “changed the game” as it were.

Sam's Journey by Protovision

With the purchase of the C64 Maxi, a modern rebirth of the Commodore 64 with the common interface conveniences such as HDMI for video and USB ports for controllers and data storage. I can use a USB game pad on the C64 Maxi, although, some lack of customization is a bit unfortunate, but that is another blathering for another time.

If you are playing games on your original hardware or something more closely resembling it like the Ultimate 64, you may want some of these more modern conveniences like a multi-button SNES controller. The 64JPX is the quick and easy solution to make that happen.

Features

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This will work out of the box with any of the aforementioned systems which means no fussing about. Just plug it in and you are off to the races in some glorious 8-bit fantastic fun. There are on-the-fly, selectable gaming enhancement modes which allow you to change the configuration of the controller while in the game. This also allows you to safely connect the Sega Genesis, Nintendo or PC controllers as to not fry your CIA chips and continue to use the machine to your heart’s content.

The enhancement modes, which are controller dependent, include

  • Fire and auto-fire
  • Racing where buttons or triggers are for acceleration and braking
  • Waddle modes for sports games that use left/right waddling, like the Decathlon or Summer Games. According to the manual different speeds of waddle are accomplished by different combinations of pressing and holding a button while optionally holding right on the direction pad. I say, optionally as it has to do with different speeds of waddle. This would be interesting to play with.
  • Creep mode is for the platformers where you need to get close to the edge without falling off. Personally, this sounds like cheating but I would gladly take that cheat because I have fallen off the edge on “Impossible Mission” more times than I can count.

There are five flavors of this device to from which to choose. Your tastes are likely vary from others so the clever creator of this device, Nicholas Coplin has given you some options.

  • Red – Sega Genesis / MegaDrive controller in either 3 or 6 button varieties
  • Blue – For use with SNES and NES controllers. The Start and Select buttons toggle the different enhancement modes available.
  • Purple – A combination of Red and Blue (cleverly named purple) which auto detects the controller type.
  • Orange – A combination of Red but with added support for the analog PC type controller
  • Black – A budget friendly option for use with the Sega Master system controller that just protects the C64 from shorting out the CIA chip
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Depending on the choice, you may need an adapter, specifically, a dongle to adapt the proprietary SNES controller to the DB-9 port on this adapter. There are also some other useful items like the 1351-pass-through port to allow you to leave your mouse connected at the same time as your joypad / joystick. It’s good to save a bit of wear and tear on your ports. Though, I would be concerned about the chain of devices hanging off the side of the computer. Now I am dreaming of a kind of controller hub you plug in… hmm.

Final Thoughts

I am very impressed by the work Nicholas Coplin has invested into the controller business on the systems of my youth. I am incredibly impressed that someone has taken the time to open up the use of more modern controllers on the systems I with which I grew up. The fact the Purple version has the ability to auto detect the controller when plugged in is absolutely brilliant!

64hdd.com has an incredibly neat shop of useful hardware for use on your glorious 8-bit and 16-bit era systems. I am not sure why I haven’t founds this sooner but I am sure glad I did today. There is more fun to be had on the horizon with my fun systems and I can’t wait until I can actually use this. So be watching this space for a follow up.

References

64JPX at 64hdd.com
Ultimate 64 | A New Commodore 64 main board

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