Pointing The Pastel Powerplay At The Porcelain

All this talk of broken controllers reminded me of this old horror. Inspired by my mate’s robust, classy Powerplay Cruiser (and autofiring Turbo) joysticks for his Amiga as well as a knockdown price of £8.49 in Boots and the promise that unlike most other sticks it was Sinclair-compatible, I begged for one of these as an Unbirthday Present despite the foul colours.

Now, when it comes to 8/16-bit computer gaming or modern takes thereon I’m a redefinable keys fiend, even if I do usually redefine them to the keys that the Interface II/Sinclair joystick controls emulated. More direct, intuitive and accurate every time, think of the keyboard as a fat controller!

I did previously have a grey Sinclair joystick which came with my +2 and was pretty naff, making everything feel more approximate, which is the last thing you need when attempting pixel-perfect jumps on Dynamite Dan. I did get some use of it for Daley Thompson’s Olympic Challenge though (a sports waggle-fest with some typically great Jonathan Dunn music). The +2 joystick went loose to the left and then went into my box of bits.

sinclairjoystick

When I got the Powerplay Cruiser home, it looked just as ugly as it does in the main photo. I sincerely do not know what that colour scheme was about, especially the big pink stick with a knob on the end. Seriously? The textured body also felt a lot more plasticy than my mate’s different model joysticks too.

I don’t even remember which games I tried it with. Treasure Island Dizzy certainly, Operation Wolf doubtless, Deviants probably, Behind Closed Doors unlikely, Zanthrax definitely not. What I do remember is that despite the satisfying click and the rewarding precision with which I could actually get the direction I was attempting first time, despite it being as good a joystick as you could get for the Speccy, it wasn’t precise enough. Even with an adjustable stiffness setting there was no way I could get those little, inch-forward-one-pixel moves that were so crucial for the unforgiving no-inertia platforming norms of most Speccy games. Gah!

(I had a similar heavy-handedness (-thumbedness?) problem with my first DualShock for the PS1. That drove me nearly mad with frustration until I forced myself with sheer bloody-mindedness to tiptoe the cars round even on the straights in the original TOCA Touring Car Championship)

The joystick lasted a week before giving up the ghost inexplicably. Having learnt my lesson I hadn’t even been near a waggler. I think a wire became loose either in the stick itself or the split connector (which unlike the picture also had a short grey lead with a second D-connector for use with the Spectrum).

I owned numerous games that wouldn’t load except under a full moon, which I’d periodically try and retry anyway on the off-chance that three-and-a-half minutes later today would be the day. I didn’t know much but I knew persistence. I could have jiggled or unscrewed things on that joystick. If I’d had any sense I could have tried to get a replacement or my (Mum’s) money back.

No. Into the box of bits with it!

“67980 SPACE ENTER” for life, after trying “CHEAT” first of course!

 

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4 Comments Add yours

  1. Da22 says:

    Dude, Jam had one of those for his c64 and I don’t think we ever used it! Proper cack!

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  2. acidbearboy says:

    I used one of these on my 2600! Never did like joysticks until I tried proper arcade style sticks with a heavy base.

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    1. stevenger says:

      Yeah, I was thinking I liked the regular 2600 joysticks alright, possibly because the low graphical resolution matched up with the low input resolution. The games were intended and presumably tested with those sticks too.

      I do wonder how I’d get on with one of those dinner-tray Street Fighter sticks if I forced myself to acclimate. I’d still be jumping everywhere and using the wrong dragon punch for the job anyhow!

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  3. stevenger says:

    Yeah, I was thinking I liked the regular 2600 joysticks alright, possibly because the low graphical resolution matched up with the low input resolution. The games were intended and presumably tested with those sticks too.

    I do wonder how I’d get on with one of those dinner-tray Street Fighter sticks if I forced myself to acclimate. I’d still be jumping everywhere and using the wrong dragon punch for the job anyhow!

    Like

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