I wonder how these games play with an Xbox 360 controller? I originally played these with a joystick. Oh, and don't even try playing with a mouse and keyboard, it is an exercise in frustration.
As a person who tried to use a 360 pad with other older space shooters, I'm guessing it won't work well.
The problem is round gate vs square gate joysticks.
Basically joysticks work by measuring position along two axes (like an X, Y graph). Say that the joystick coords for center is (0, 0), fully forward is (0, 100), fully right is (100, 0) for example. Proper flight sticks (and joysticks of yore) have a square "gate", meaning the opening at the base of the stick that determines its movement range. So when you move a flight stick all the way to the top right corner, you are at the full extent of the vertical range, and the full extent of the horizontal range - same as if you were just moving in one of those directions individually - i.e. top right would measure (100, 100).
Because gamepad joysticks have round gates, you can't actually get to the full extent of their range. When you point a 360 joystick to the top right, you're only around 70% as far forward as if you were moving it forward only and only 70% as far to the right as if you were moving it right only. I.e. it would measure (70, 70).
Newer games designed for analog gamepads are built to compensate for this (though usually in a pretty simple/weak manner by simply treating anything reporting values >= 70% of the joystick's range as 100%), . However, older games were built for flight sticks with square gates and expect full range movement at all possible stick angles. As a result, they don't feel right if you try to play with round gate gamepads. If you're trying to yaw and pitch at the same time (i.e. moving the joystick up/right, down/left, etc.) you'll only be rotating the ship at 70% the speed in either direction that it's capable of doing. This doesn't sound like much, but it's actually a far bigger impact than you might think, especially if the game was designed to have non-linear rotational speed based on the magnitude of the input. I've found it to render these old games more or less unplayable on a gamepad. They demand a basic flight stick.