I had all kinds of great material ready for a one-shot (or maybe two-shot) review of Pirates! but I can't get the damned game to work. In part, I'm confused by the game history. The original release was in 1987 for the Commodore 64. MobyGames says there was a DOS release but lists it as 1994, which doesn't make any sense, because by 1994, Pirates! Gold had already been out for a year. Wikipedia lists no DOS release at all but says there was a PC booter version in 1987; apparently, DOSBox can emulate a PC booter but I can't find a download. Meanwhile, I did find a DOS version (from which the screen shot above comes) on this web site, but the introductory text is different than I remember and the game doesn't work: it keeps freezing after the opening text and battles. I've messed around with the settings in DOSBox to no avail. The existence of this game is a bit mysterious given the insistence of both MobyGames and Wikipedia that it doesn't exist, and I only found it on one abandonware site.
So...any ideas? (Other than playing a non-DOS/PC version; that ship has already sailed.) I'll keep trying to figure it out, but in the meantime I'll move on to The Seven Spirits of Ra. Worst case, I have to wait until Pirates! Gold in 1993.
Later Edit: problem solved (see comments). I'm still a bit mystified as to the history and origins of this DOS version, but I won't trouble myself too much. Posting coming soon.