PC-98 gameports and software support

Started by dankcomputing, June 24, 2021, 06:59:29 AM

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As we all know, the PC-98 uses J-PC controllers typically but the ports for them are only found on soundcards. The 26K has 2 ports, the 86 has one, and the freaky PC-98 version of the Sound Blaster has an actual DOS-V 15-pin analog gameport on it which I'm sure no actual game cares about. There's also some systems with built-in sound that don't have gameports at all, with some people reporting success plugging in gamepads through the mouse port via an adapter.

Gameport cards also exist, but they'll only work on certain earlier 9821 systems with built-in 2608/2203 sound. My 9821cf is out of luck, it's got onboard YMF288 sound. Still haven't tried the mouse port trick and I need to get on that.

My big question is, what controllers are supported through these ports besides the standard J-PC 2-button pad? Do any games recognize:

-FM Towns-style start/select buttons (mapped to up+down and left+right simultaneously)
-6-button Genesis pads through an adapter like the X68000 and FM Towns do for their fighting games
-analog stuff like the Sharp CyberStick
-twinstick gamepads used for games like Libble Rabble and Crazy Climber

There's also keypress-emulation gamepads and gamepad adapters, but they're supposed to be pretty rare/expensive.

Second controller options also seem limited. The mouse hack crowd looks to be out of luck and there doesn't seem to be a way of plugging a second controller into an 86 card. What would the options be for that? It should be possible to hack one on but the prospect of messing with the one piece of PC-98 hardware whose price is skyrocketing faster than any other is not particularly tempting.


PC-98 games are usually expected to be played with keyboard or mouse. The PC-98DO/P-11 adapter for machines with integrated OPNA basically grounds the middle mouse button (that pc98 mouse generally don't have), and internally this connects the signals directly to the ym2608 peripheral inputs. This means it is very easy to make, and there are cheap clones in yahoo japan.

As for using 6 button joysticks, this needs software support, the signals are multiplexed and the game needs to be aware of that. Analog ones are out because the signals are digitally buffered and sampled.

In the end the problem is the software, you could do a new game supporting 6 button joysticks, but old ones are not designed for that. In fact, I use key/mouse and live with that, it is a computer and not a console after all.


In my testing so far one game (Metal Force) will recognize FM Towns-style Start/Select buttons. Kind of sad how many games there are that don't recognize J-PC gamepads through the sound card at all, but that's a consequence of not every machine having them I suppose.

The SlipStream '93 program mentions an analog joystick (unknown what kind) and a "radicon propo" as controller options. The game is just about the only thing returned on a Google search for "radicon propo". There's a picture of what I assume is the controller in question on the game's box:

radicon propo.jpg

Can't tell whether it's plugged into the mouse port or keyboard/external keypad port.