Have you ever wondered why the brilliant Sid Meier’s game Pirates! is the Gold version of the game? Simple, it’s a remake (made by the original author of the game). So if that’s a remake, where’s the original then? I’d love to try it!!!
I remember playing this game on the good old C64. When I then first tried the PC Pirates! it was the Golden edition. I was impressed by the superior graphics and sounds, but that’s due to the fact that the Gold edition is 6 years younger then the original game. And here’s the original Pirates! exactly the same as on the good old C64 (with slightly worse sound though).
The game supports 3 graphic modes (I suggest you select the EGA graphics) and it features some lovely tunes, unfortunately all done by the PC speaker (can’t change that). The quality of the sound isn’t all that good, although the tunes are great!
You can control the character with either a joystick or the keyboard (enter instead of fire and arrow keys to move).
At the beginning (but you’ll have to wait a while before the screen loads) you get to select your career. You can start a new one (in a desired time period), continue a saved one, or play a famous battle. If you select to start a new career you’ll meet your patron, who’ll test your knowledge. This is the copy protection test and you find the answers to it in the extras. You are asked at what time does a certain treasure arrive at certain destination (e.g. When does the Silver Train arrive and Panama?). If the answer is correct, you’ll start out quite strong (you get a vast crew and two ships if you start as an English Seadog in the earliest time period, which is the strongest start possible). If the answer isn’t correct, you’ll start with a rebellious crew and no money (and it’s gonna be real hell to play).
Depending on the time period and nationality you choose (I suggest not to choose Spanish, because there won’t be so many targets to attack then) you’ll start in a different place in the Caribbean.
Now it’s up to you to find all four members of your family, get rich and distinguished and find the most beautiful bride possible (governors have different daughters, but the more beautiful she is, the stronger and better situated the suitor). Yes, you have more then just two choices (the Golden version has less options here). Also you’ll get to sell the ship to the merchant, not at the ship-yard. There are even some animations while visiting the tavern or interacting with the people (but you can’t’ run errands for the governor).
You can only save the game when in a friendly city (a city you didn’t have to sneak in). Also these are the cities that let you divide the plunder among your crew (then you can either advance to a harder level, simply plan another expedition, or retire).
And it’s after you retire that you see the biggest difference (the thing I missed the most). Upon retiring you get to see yourself reaching an appropriate social status (depending on how well you did in the game). Sid Meier also included this feature in the original Railroad Tycoon, but later on he replaced it with simple giving you the statistics. I know it doesn’t sound like much (and there aren’t that many differences), but still, this is the original Pirates!, so I believe it deserves a place on the site and in your personal classic game collection (it doesn’t get much more classic then this).