Yes, there are some people still playing games on original equipment. Not bad when you consider Commodore International made the last C64 sometime before they declared bankruptcy in 1994.
I haven’t investigated everything related to the new THEC64 Mini. It won’t be available in the United States until October 9, 2018. The first (and possibly only) retailer for it will be Gamestop. From what I gather from casual searching on the web, it will cost $79.99 (plus tax).
Other than the website for THEC64, they have a Facebook page set up for news. It’s there that I learned they’ll be releasing a full-sized version this year as well.
If you want to get an idea of what the THEC64 Mini looks like and what it can do, you should watch some videos at their YouTube channel. With all the advances in technology over the last 20 years or so, it’s bound to be a lot easier to work with than the original.
If you go the most famous pirate torrenting website (which I can’t name without upsetting people), you can find torrents for C64 “ROMs”. That’s not what they are but a lot of people call them that. They’re tape and disk images you can load up with an emulator, with the Windows version of VICE being the most popular.
If you want to get them from a more reputable source, try the Arnold archive. I downloaded a torrent file, just for giggles, that had a 2007 mirror of the archive included. From what I’ve read, you don’t have to worry about copyright infringement anymore. A DMCA exemption is still in place.
From what I gather, THEC64 Mini can accept .D64 images. Their page on the matter doesn’t mention any other format.
I won’t buy retrogaming machines of any brand. Every time the nostalgia bug bites me, I load up one thing or another in my emulator. After fooling with it for a few minutes, I get over it. I really have no desire to return to yesteryear. I bought a C64 in 1988, replaced it with C128 sometime before 1992 and then ran a BBS on it for about six years. Then it sat on a desk doing nothing for another six years.
Thinking about what the original C64 could do, with only 64 kilobytes of memory available, it’s amazing how bloated modern software is today. Speaking of which, this rant by a seasoned programmer is exactly what I’m talking about. It’s one of the reasons I keep writing and rewriting my own CMS to replace the one I’m currently using (WordPress).
Retro gaming is a big thing, with retro machines selling out over and over again. Fortunately for me (or unfortunately, depending on how you look at it), I don’t want any part in all of it.