It’s been a while since we’ve had anything for you long suffering Jaguar owners so here’s a lovely chat with Nicolas Persijn who makes excellent rotary controllers for the console. Enjoy! To check out how to obtain these lovely controllers, head to Nicolas’ Facebook page.
Can you give our readers a quick background of your gaming history and why gaming is such an important aspect of your life?
I was born in 1976. I loved arcade games as a small child and in 1981 or so, I got an Atari 2600 for Christmas. I played that 2600 and any arcade game I could get my hands on all through the 8-bit generation, experiencing NES games at friends houses and the NES arcade machine. Visiting arcades was a big deal back then, something that I would normally do with my father. My parents had split during the early 80’s, so the things I did with my father had a big impact on my childhood and sent ripples through the rest of my life. I watched Tron in the theater with my father when it came out, and it’s my favorite movie to this day.
As the 90’s loomed over the horizon, I recieved a Sega Genesis on its Christmas launch of 1989. The combination of me coming into my teens, meeting friends who enjoyed gaming and having a comfortable basement room mostly for myself would finally cement video games permanently into my personality. I started reading all the magazines and watching any gaming related TV show that would come out during the early 90’s. I stuck with Sega for most of that generation, finally moving on to Saturn, N64, PS1 then DC, PS2 and Xbox.
I mostly abandoned the previous console when I moved on to the next, until I started collecting. Starting around 2006, I started collecting consoles and games. I quickly aquired a huge stable of all the consoles I had, plus all the consoles I wanted as a teen, but could never get my hands on. I ended up selling off that collection in 2008 or so and ended up starting again from scratch in 2011.
Do you remember the first time you played a Jaguar console and were you instantly impressed?
I don’t remember it very well. I think it was Cybermorph that I tried in a kiosk. I think I wasn’t very impressed.
Why are you now so passionate about the Jaguar, especially as it was a huge commercial failure for Atari?
It’s mostly because I was so excited about its announcement and release as a teenager. I couldn’t wrap my head around what 64 bits of raw gaming power meant. My imagination ran rampant. I even used it as the closing section of a school presentation I had to do on the history of computing.
I appreciate the Jag now due to the potential it had and the few very good games that came out. Mostly though, I enjoy being part of a small community of fans. I’ve found ways to contribute to this community, and derive most of my enjoyment through striving to widen it.
What do you think were the main reasons why the Jaguar never succeeded?
I’ve heard many stories about Atari during this time. All the management missteps and their treatment of in-house developers. I also think that the overuse of the Motorola 68K chip as the main CPU in a lot of games hurt the Jag’s reputation while it was current.
What are your top 3 video games of all time and why?
Street Fighter II Championship Edition Arcade (and Mega Drive) because I kick serious butt and it’s fun A.F.
DoDonPachi for Arcade because I love bullet hell shmups and this one is one of the best. I enjoy the dodge.
Xenogears for PS1 because I fell in love with the story and battle system for both human and mech battles.
Can you explain how you helped bring the fabled Thea Realm Fighters back to peoples’ thoughts and what that game personally means to you?
I’m a big fighting game enthusiast. The Jag has relatively few and the thought of an unreleased fighter intrigued me. I set out to find out as much as I could and it slowly became my Holy Grail. I eventually found (or was given) a working ROM for the Beta version and featured it on cartridge at eJagFest 2016. That caught the attention of the owner of the physical prototype boards of the Beta version, Alpha version and a TRF themed proof-of-concept tech demo for a compiler that was used by High Voltage Software that bypassed the 68K chip called HVSC Maze. I saw the opprotunity to puchase them, with the intent of gifting the ROMs to the community and I took it.
Sometimes I regret the purchase, but at eJagFest 2017, during a conversation with Gary Taylor (Gaztee) about TRF, I noticed my youngest son and another young boy there playing TRF together giggling and jumping around having a blast. When I imagine things like this happening other places around the world, I don’t regret it so much any more.
Do you think Thea Realm Fighters would have been a success (especially with its massive 25 roster of characters) and what else would have made the game stand out from the crowd?
This game had an incredible amount of potential and could have easily been the best fighter on the system. Given what’s in the beta version, the playability, move list, graphics and animation were on their way to greatness.
The homebrew scene for the Atari Jaguar is growing all the time. Are there any future games you would love to see released on the Jag?
I’d love to see more 3D style homebrew games. Less ports of exsisting games and less games that rely so much on the 68K chip. Fallen Angels from Dr.Typo is a great example of what I’d like to see more of.
Many games were never completed for the Atari Jaguar. Which three games which were in development would you have loved to see completed?
Phear (my new Holy Grail)
You currently create bespoke rotary controllers for the Atari Jaguar. Can you explain how you make these, how they can be purchased and what games do they work best with?
The process is quite simple I take a 24ppr incremental quadrature rotary encoder and latch it to the left, right and ground traces on the controller pcb. Thats it. The rest is asthetics. The harder part is programming the game to recognize the encoder input. Most of the homebrew games will auto-detect the presence of the encoder. In T2K, you have to choose the control method manually from a hidden menu.
My rotary controllers can usually be found on eBay, or I can be contacted directly via email (firstname.lastname@example.org) or via my Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/RotaryControllers/) I often run out of stock controllers, but I do offer modding services for existing controllers for a small fee. If I run out of dials though, it takes time to restock. They are expensive and I often have to save up a bit to restock.
The games that utilize rotary control that I know of are:
There is a version of Arkanoid for the Atari ST that has been ported to the Jaguar that can utilize rotary control, but I haven’t tried it yet.
If you could share a few drinks with a video game character who would you choose and why?
I prefer to drink alone 🙂