Getting back to playing games on my “work in progress” Atari STE has been great and the experience has been as fun as I hoped. Upgrading the joystick was a great idea but I hadn’t thought the mouse would need any attention. I was wrong!
Though the Atari STM1 mouse is an iconic part of the ST hardware with its matching grey, boxy design it hasn’t aged well at all. It’s not at all ergonomic, is very fussy with what surfaces it works on and being a ball mouse it collects enough junk that it cleaning is a chore. Compared to modern laser mice, it’s a major step back. Luckily a lot of people felt the same way and came up with adapters for using wireless USB mice with these old systems.
The one I settled for was based on the Smally Mouse 2 adapters which takes the inputs from a USB mouse and converts it into the format recognisable by Atari and Commodore machines which connected using the Atari DB9 connectors. A small jumper on the board allows it to work on both Atari and Commodore machines – back then there were slight differences in how they were wired which made them incompatible. The nice thing with the adapter is that wireless mice are the preferred option – when plugged in the adapter can safely draw enough power from the joystick port without issue. The one I purchased was bundled with a Logitech mouse which was recommended for the adapter and it was a reliable plug and play affair.
How did it work out? Pretty good actually. My STE had no issues with the mouse and it was way more responsive than the old STM1. The adapter itself can run a little warm so I’m glad I left it connected to the end of an extension cable which gives it plenty of airflow. Having a better mouse really makes games that leverage it feel even more responsive and let you focus more on the game and less on the controller. It might be a small upgrade but it’s also a worthy one to improve your experience playing on a retro system.