Sid Meier's Pirates!

aka: Pirates!, Sid Meier's Pirates!: Action and Adventure on the Spanish Main, Xide Meier de Haidao
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Buy on Amiga
Buy on Commodore 64
$64.99 used at eBay
Buy on DOS
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Description official descriptions

Take on the life of a buccaneer in the golden age of Caribbean Piracy! This game lets you choose from 6 different "ages" (for example, "The Silver Empire" from 1560-1600, "War For Profit" from 1640-1660, etc.), one of 4 nationalities (English, French, Dutch, Spanish), 4 difficulty levels, and one of 5 special abilities (skill at fencing, skill at navigation, etc.). Nine different types of ships were represented.

The goal of the game is to retire with as much gold and land as possible, as many ranks/titles as possible (Colonel, Admiral, Marquis, Duke), and a wife. Finding long lost relatives helps too. You accomplish these goals by plundering cities, capturing and sinking enemy ships, getting in good with governors to receive titles, learn news of "evil Spaniards" holding your relatives, capturing evil pirates, etc.

The game is educational, as you will learn about piracy through the thoroughly researched manual. You'll smell the sea salt as you participate in wild sword fights, desperate sea battles, and daring attacks by land.


  • 席德梅尔的海盗 - Simplified Chinese spelling

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Credits (PC Booter version)

24 People · View all



Average score: 83% (based on 38 ratings)


Average score: 3.8 out of 5 (based on 208 ratings with 9 reviews)

A legend in computer games.

The Good
I know it has a lot of rivals (the Zork series, Balance Of Power, BattleHawk's 42, and Silent Service to name a few), but to me this was probably the best PC game of the '80's. So much quality was crammed into those two 5.25" 360K floppy disks it's unbelievable. Today's games are so bloated and require hundreds of Megs of hard drive space and come on 4 CDs... ugh. Back in the 80's games were so much better.

Pirates! was simple, yet so fun. It was also educational... I learned more about real Pirates and general life in the 1600's from this game (and the manual) than I did in all my years in school.

I loved the graphics, all the action (sword fights, ship-to-ship battles, land battles), all the options (different time periods, each one with a unique map, goals, and roles to choose from), and just the whole role-playing aspect. You actually became a pirate! You rescued your ancestors, you kept the crew happy, you decided where to sail... you were the captain.

I know people have said the music wasn't good, but don't judge it by today's standards. Back then, the PC Speaker was pretty much the standard, and they did a good job with it. I know it sounded like a synthetic Casio accordian, but hey, I think the accordian was used in Carribbean music back then. :)

The Bad
The one thing I never liked about Pirates was the 8-ship limit. I always wished I could've had a larger fleet.

The Bottom Line
Pirates! was a game which has never been equaled: no game this small has been this much fun and full of so many options. This is an example of why Windoze was so bad for games... you can't find a commercial game nowadays under 1 MB, much less under 50 or 100MB. If you can only play one game from the '80's, this should be it.

PC Booter · by Raphael (1245) · 1999

ABsolutely awesome game, even in 2004

The Good
It is INFINITELY play-able. But, this game is NOT about graphics, tho, for it's DAY, it was an awesome game. You can only TRY to 'master' certain levels of play (within certain time periods) and THEN, you can go about your business in an entirely DIFFERENT time period... Try it... You'll LIKE IT... You'll find yourself running your career well into the wee hours of the morning... Only to try it all again the NEXT DAY!!! Back in 87-89 I was stationed in Germany, and one of my roommates bought a small computer and it came with some games... GUESS which game is the one I STILL enjoy playing??? ...Uh HUH!!! You GUESSED it...

The Bad
What's not to like? (if ya want big 'realistic' explosions) go buy a cd of some New Thing....

The Bottom Line
It is without doubt, a classic. This game is NOT about the visual effects... it is about THE GAME...

Commodore 64 · by stvrich (2) · 2004

Admit it, you want to be a pirate.

The Good
You wanta be a pirate, don't you? Do stuff that pirates do. Just bring your boat and cutlass. Take pride in recruiting the local scumbages at the inn. Help or plunder the town, as you wish. Find old treasure maps broken into a thousand pieces and put it back together. But ultimately, find all your relatives so you can start a normal life?

The Bad
It does get redundant after a while. A man can only have so many lost relatives.

The Bottom Line
Has a Civ I like feel. Are you the equivilant of a high seas Solomon? Or do you possess intelligence on par with Eric the Red? It's a fun game, for a couple dozen hours or so.

PC Booter · by Yeah Right (50) · 2000

[ View all 9 player reviews ]


Subject By Date
Is the listed DOS CD-ROM version really Pirates? Silvano Ciccioli (128) Oct 28th, 2017


1001 Video Games

Sid Meier's Pirates! appears in the book 1001 Video Games You Must Play Before You Die by General Editor Tony Mott.


Amazingly, the original Commodore 64 version is written in large part in BASIC with certain parts written in assembler for speed, such as the sailing around the map.


The original box came with a map of the entire Caribbean, with each of the cities noted with their founding date (so you'd know when not to visit them!)

Game Art Beyond

In 2018, Pirates! was selected as one of the biggest classics on the Commodore 64 by the creators of the C64 graphics collection Game Art Beyond. Pirates! was honoured with a high resolution title picture (based on the title screen made for the Amiga version) in a special C64 graphics format called NUFLI. While all other game screens in Game Art Beyond featured a remix of their respective title music, there really was no compelling theme in the original C64 version except for a few jingles, so instead you'll hear a C64 SID remix of Bach Prelude C Minor, which later suddenly turns into Pirates of the Carribbean.

Historical Accuracy

Sid Meier on his design philosophy and how he applied it to his favorite game (from the May 2001 issue of Computer Gaming World):

We have a joke that we only do the research after the game is finished. If I read too many books, I will create a game based on the books.
Pirates! was about pirate movies, not the period.

However, each of the six "ages" you could choose from were historically accurate. Some examples: Some ages featured cities that others didn't (the cities historically hadn't been settled yet), the four different European powers gained and lost power as they did in history, and different types of ships were more common in different eras.


Unlike the early versions such as the C64 and Apple II, some following versions often lets governors offer the player special missions to accept or reject in return for potential rewards.


If the player runs Sid Meier's Pirates! on a Tandy machine, the player will find snippets of 3-voice music throughout the game.

Amstrad CPC version

Amstrad CPC version of the game was advertised as "The World's First Swashbuckling Simulation" and was only for CPC 6128.

NES version

Unlike other versions of Pirates!, the NES port lacks "tobacco" as a trade item for the 1600-1640 time period. In its place there is an item simply labelled "crops".


  • Amiga Joker
    • Issue 01/1991 – Best Adventure Game in 1990
  • Computer Gaming World
    • Hall of Fame member
    • October 1988 (Issue #52) - Action Game of the Year
    • November 1996 (15th anniversary issue) - #18 overall among the “150 Best Games of All Time”
    • November 1996 (15th anniversary issue) – #6 Most Rewarding Ending of All Time
  • GameStar (Germany)
    • Issue 03/2013 – One of the "Ten Best C64 Games“
  • Retro Gamer
    • September 2004 (Issue #8) – #84 Best Game Of All Time (Readers' Vote)

Information also contributed by Andrew Grasmeder, Indra was here, JubalHarshaw, Kasey Chang, Nathan Jedinak and PCGamer77

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Contributors to this Entry

Game added by Raphael.

PC-88 added by Trypticon. Commodore 64, Apple II, NES added by PCGamer77. Atari ST, Amiga added by Rebound Boy. Amstrad CPC added by Martin Smith. PC-98 added by Terok Nor. Apple IIgs added by Scaryfun. DOS added by formercontrib. Macintosh added by Garcia.

Additional contributors: Trixter, Unicorn Lynx, Sergio Brinkhuis, BdR, formercontrib, Patrick Bregger, mailmanppa, S Olafsson, Malte Mundt, FatherJack, ZeTomes.

Game added August 14th, 1999. Last modified September 16th, 2023.