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Frankenstein’s (Ms.) Pac-Man… Experimenting With New and Old Gaming Technology

Above is a Sinclair SJS1, a joystick that was specifically designed for the Sinclair ZX Spectrum +2 when Amstrad’s Alan Sugar took over the Sinclair computer brand from Clive Sinclair.

Unlike most other joysticks of the era, it does not use the same “pinouts” as the Atari standard. It does use the same “D-sub” 9-pin connector. But they do not match the standard developed by Atari for the 2600/VCS console and copied by many others.

The SJS1 only has one fire button on the stick, which you have to use your thumbs for. This is OK for using with games that don’t use fire much. But terrible for shoot-em-ups!

I have tried to stick up for this joystick amongst fellow Spectrum fans, and also tried to do a wind-up of them, to show the SJS1 playing the arcade version of Ms. Pac-Man.

I tried to get people to guess how it was possible. Then in the big reveal, I showed them this:

The SJS1 joystick is connected to the board from a 4-in-1 Namco Plug and Play joystick game board thingy, which was broken. The joystick was removed from the board and the case, and the board was then repaired by me. I then had to find a suitable home for it.

It is housed in a case from a Quickshot joystick for the MSX – again, another broken joystick that was recycled. The board from that joystick was beyond repair.

I attached the joystick wires so that it was according to the Atari standard. So I had to create a wire to re-wire the Atari standard to Alan Sugar’s “Amstrad-Sinclair” proprietary standard.

And hey presto! The arcade Ms. Pac-Man, emulated on a board, in an MSX joystick case, controlled by an Amstrad-era Sinclair joystick! All powered by a battery!

It’s OK playing Ms. Pac-Man. But it’s terrible for playing Galaga, an old favourite of mine, which is on the same board! The SJS1 joystick is hated, and rightly so. But it remains the only joystick that is custom-designed for the Sinclair ZX Spectrum Grey +2.

GREAT EXPERIMENT and IT WORKS! I just have to be very careful when I move it 🙂