Although these days most PC games can be controlled by all sorts of USB plug-in gamepads and joysticks, there are still many games, above all those that are a few years old, that don’t support these types of controls. But thanks to the free program JoyToKey (also called Joy2Key), you can map the control buttons for unsupported games to a gamepad and select which key you’d like to associate with each button.
After you’ve downloaded the program, unzipped its contents into the desired folder, and launched it by running the JoyToKey.exe, you’ll see in front of you an interface that basically speaks for itself. Here, we’re going to configure it in order to be able to play the old classic Blizzard Blackthorne, which has recently been published for free and which, unfortunately, does not natively support the use of gamepad controllers.
On the left side of the screen we’ll manage the different profile configurations that we make. Clicking on the lower “Create” button, we’ll add a new profile, which we’ll give the same name as the game we’re going to assign the profile to. On the right side we’ll have the list of buttons for the controller (although this is totally configurable, initially this will detect whatever type of controller you have connected). In our example case here, we’re testing with a gamepad for Xbox 360 with a cable.
If, for example, we want to make it so moving the right joystick does the same thing as pressing the right arrow button on our keyboard, we need to click over that button in the list on the right, whereupon the following window will pop up:
In this assignment panel we can select up to four different buttons on the keyboard that we can associate with one button on our remote control. In fact, we can even associate clicks or mouse movements to particular buttons on the gamepad, in addition to being able to adjust our autofire rate to a level that suits us.
Although the program automatically detects the controllers connected to your PC, it’s possible to manually calibrate them by access the corresponding section from within Preferences > Configure Joysticks. There you can fine-tune the precision of each associated joystick (when the controller you’re using has them), as well as the sensitivity of the d-pads or taps to your triggers and other buttons with different sensitivities.
To do this configuration effectively, you’ll need to leave JoyToKey open while you play the game in question (you can minimize it and leave the icon on your taskbar). You can even set the program to open and run in the background when you launch Windows. Now, with that done, our game of Blackthorne here will be a heck of a lot more entertaining with our 360 gamepad.