Jeff, your blog needs a nice big "Warning - sentimental nostalgia trip" stamped to the front of it
I love those old video games. They were so simple and easy to get into, with no messing about. They didn't rely on fancy graphics because it wasn't possible to do fast and fancy graphics back then, so you had to rely on pure gameplay. And games were simple enough that it was possible to think about the game logic and wonder how you'd reimplement it on a home computer (usually in BASIC) in your head. Try that with today's blockbusters.
I dug out a Playstation style controller (plugs into a standard PC gameport) from the attic the other day - I think I got it well over ten years ago as a controller for old games. Certainly it was before "Dave's Classics" got shut down.
Yeah, it's a shame most MAME ROMs out there are illegal cracks. A lot of the copyrights have changed hands so much it's a huge logistical nightmare to get clearance to release them officially. I'd love to get hold of some of the old Ultimate (as RareWare were originally known) games that were around on home computers in the early eighties, but the copyrights are being closely guarded - pity, as I think the games could still be sold for profit today.
I haven't played a new game since Quake came out - and a large reason I played that is because of its ability to be customised and tweaked.
Oh, Jeff - about your controllers - how well do they stack up to "Track and Field" (and variants)? I've found an original IBM Model M keyboard to be the best for the job - you can bash the hell out the keys and it just keeps working.