DOS Days

The Secret of Monkey Island

Released: 1990
Published by: Lucasfilm Games LLC
Developed by: Lucasfilm Games LLC
Credits: Ron Gilbert, Tim Schafer, Dave Grossman, Brad P. Taylor, Aric Wilmunder, Tami Caryl Borowick, Martin Cameron, James A. Dollar, Barney Jones, Michael Z. Land, Patric Mundy, Andy Newell.

System Requirements

System Requirements 8088 or 8086 CPU, 640 KB RAM, DOS 3.1+, CGA, Hercules, Tandy/PCjr, EGA, MCGA, or VGA graphics. Best graphics = 320 x 200 in 256 colours.
Audio support for PC speaker, Ad Lib, Game Blaster, Sound Blaster, Roland MT-32 (or LAPC-I), or Tandy/PCjr. CD-ROM release requires MSCDEX 2.1 or higher.
80286 CPU is recommended.
Original Media Original EGA release - eight 5.25" 360 KB (DD) or four 5.25" 720 KB (DD) floppy disks or three 3.5" 1.44 MB (HD) floppy disks. A 1992 re-release came on a single CD-ROM.
Installed Size 4.4 MB


The Secret of Monkey Island was the brainchild of Ron Gilbert, who had just completed Zak McKraken and the Alien Mindbenders. Looking for a pirate theme for his new point-and-click adventure, early ideas began on the game in 1988, but actual development was postponed until 1990 as key individuals and Gilbert himself were assigned to work on Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade: The Graphic Adventure. In 1990, realising he needed help in building out his new game, Gilbert hired Tim Schafer and Dave Grossman into Lucasfilm Games, both of whom wrote the main plot with Gilbert doing the overall design, programming and coming up with the puzzles.

Playing as a wannabe pirate, Guybrush Threepwood arrives on Melee Island to seek his fame and fortune. After seeking out the island's pirate leaders, he is set on a quest through a series of trials where you learn the art of swordfighting, finding buried treasure, and stealing a valuable idol. Along the way, Guybrush learns of the infamous pirate LeChuck who has returned to Melee Island with the aim to marry Elaine Marley, the island's governor, with whom Guybrush becomes romantically involved. He must stop the wedding and destroy LeChuck!

Unlike other Lucasfilm point-and-click adventures up to this time, Monkey Island provided a more simple user interface with a list of verbs that could be used at any time on objects in the current game view.

Andy's Recommended Setup
"Monkey Island 1 will run on an XT-compatible, but I recommend a 386 CPU since the game was released when fast 386s and early 486s were the norm. The game is susceptible to instability when running on some faster PCs (fast Pentiums and up), especially those with AMD CPUs though there are patches available (or you can slow down your fast PC by disabling the CPU cache). It's not a memory intensive game, so go with with 1 MB of memory. Graphics options are plentiful, but unsurprisingly the one to go for is the VGA version - any VGA card will do, as the game runs in a maximum resolution of 320 x 200 in 256 colours.

In terms of what specific version of the game to play, an updated "talkie" version is available (and very good) but strangely I prefer the original non-talkie version for its authenticity. If you want the latest version with voice acting, you'll want the "Ultimate Talkie Edition". Audio-wise, I recommend having a Roland MT-32 for its amazing audio tracks. This sound option was added in the VGA 256-colour version, but you couldn't get Roland music alongside SB digital effects until
NewRisingSun brought out a patch that allowed this to happen. I play this later VGA version that has interpreter version 5.0.19 - it still uses the iMUSE engine that changes the music based on the current scene and what your player is doing - the later CD version did away with that and just plays complete Red Book CD audio tracks, which I feel loses that dynamic aspect to the music changing.

A mouse is really a must-have for easier navigation.


The Secret of Monkey Island was the last title from Lucasfilm Games to support Hercules and CGA graphics standards, and the 256-colour SVGA version was their last to provide support for the Creative Game Blaster audio card.

From where can it be run?

The floppy disk releases of the game can be played from floppy, though installation to a hard disk is recommended. If you have two floppy drives, run the game using the /d flag to tell the game you are using dual floppy drives.

If you're installing to a hard disk from a subdirectory which contains all the files from the floppy disks, the INSTALL.BAT program is intelligent enough to pick up your subdirectory and correctly install from there.

To install to hard disk, run:


If you do not specify a destination drive letter you will receive an error, as shown in the first picture below. You are not given a choice to specify the destination directory - it will always be installed to \MONKEY.

Game Audio

To listen to the game's audio samples, you have two choices. (1) Just click the 'Play' button on any of the samples, or (2) enable 'Sync Play' which allows you to compare audio from the various sound cards, keeping the time in sync between samples.
Sync Play    Audio loading, please wait...

Tandy 1000 (emulated)
Ad Lib (emulated)
Aztech SG Pro 16
Creative Wave Blaster (CT1900)
Roland MT-32 "Old"
Roland MT-32 "New"
Roland SC-55
Advanced Gravis UltraSound
Yamaha DB50XG (TG-300)
Yamaha DB50XG was recorded in TG-300 mode.
Game Intro (VGA + MT-32)

Game Intro (VGA + Ad Lib) Game Intro (EGA + Ad Lib)


Copy Protection

At the start of both the EGA and VGA version of the game, you see "WAIT! Before we begin, let's have a quick history quiz... Press ENTER to continue". You are then asked to state what year a certain pirate was hanged. The pirate's face is made up of two sections: an upper section and a lower section. Using the Dial-a-Pirate codewheel included in the game box, turn the inner and outer ring to make up the face, then enter the year shown in the box for the location specified:


Each time you get it wrong a different pirate is shown. You have 3 attempts to get it right, after which you will be taken back to the DOS prompt.


How to Setup

There is no setup program, but the main executable file, MONKEY.EXE, allows for command-line arguments, as follows:

Note that The Secret of Monkey Island does not use any custom MT-32 patches, so if you don't have an MT-32 but do have a Sound Canvas such as an SC-55, SC-88 or SC-88 Pro, the music will sound just as good on these when put into MT-32 mode. To do so, on the SC-55 hold Instrument < while pressing the Power button to come out of Standby. At the prompt that reads "Init MT-32,Sure?" press the "All" button. On the SC-88 and SC-88 Pro, switch on the unit, press and hold the SELECT button on the bottom row and press Instrument <. At the prompt that reads "Init CM-64,Sure?", press "All".


Symptoms: When I start the game I see a message at the top of the screen which reads "No CD-Rom drive or MSCDEX not installed".
Cause: You have the CD-ROM release of the game, and are trying to run it from the hard disk without the CD-ROM driver loaded in memory.
Resolution: Make sure your CONFIG.SYS and AUTOEXEC.BAT files contain the CD-ROM driver and MSCDEX lines, reboot your PC and confirm it finds your CD-ROM drive correctly and assigns it a drive letter. Oh, and put the game's CD into the drive ;-)

Symptoms: I have the floppy version of the game and Roland sound isn't working.
Cause: Early versions of MI1 didn't support Roland MT-32 or LAPC-I music. These were the EGA versions - Roland MT-32 sound was added with the 256-colour VGA version (interpreter version 5.0.18). Lucasfilm released an update patch to enable this to work.
Resolution: Click here to download the patch.

Symptoms: The game throws an error stating something like this: "run-time error R6003 - integer divide by 0" upon startup.
Cause: Running the game on a PC with an AMD K5 or K6 CPU can cause this. It is also often seen if you are trying to run the game on a PC that is far too fast compared to what it was designed for, even one as "slow" as a Pentium P55C (MMX) - this error is caused by the Ad Lib portion of the game's code.
Resolution: Use the SETMUL DOS utility to disable your CPU's L1 cache ("SETMUL L1D"), bringing your system performance down to a level that may allow the game to work. If you don't want to slow down your PC there are some patches written by Vogons' member K1n9_Duk3, each one for a different version of the game as follows:

You can run the 'MONKEY ?' to find out what game version you have, or if in-game press CTRL-V.

Symptoms: The game keeps hanging. It tends to happen when there is voice being played back, or about to be played back. Often coupled with moving the mouse cursor.
Cause: This is usually caused by a conflicting mouse driver, especially CTMOUSE (the CuteMouse driver).
Resolution: Try changing your mouse driver or version of CTMOUSE if you really want to continue using that particular driver.


To Quit the Game

Press ALT-X followed by Y to confirm.


Supporting Documents

Here are the original documents that came with the game:


Save Games

When you save a game, a new file is created in the main game directory called SAVEGAME._A_, SAVEGAME._B_, SAVEGAME._C_, etc. These are not text readable or editable.


Versions of the game known to exist

You can identify the game version by running MONKEY ? at the command line.

Version Date Comments
PASS.ZIP (Unknown) A playable demo. Type sampler.exe to start. This file includes demos of Loom and Indy 3 as well.
MIDEMO2.ZIP (Unknown) A playable demo. Type sampler.exe to start. Includes a quiz at the end.
Original EGA release v1.0 1990 The first version of the game was EGA only, supporting a resolution of 320 x 200 in 16 colours. This version has the "stump joke".
Commands at the bottom of the screen are in green text.
If you run monkey /? you'll notice there's no option for Roland sound (Lucasfilm released a Roland update for this version but originally this version omitted the option to keep the disk count low), but there is an option for MCGA and VGA ! Attempts to run in MCGA or VGA mode simply run the game in 16-colour EGA mode.

This release ran interpreter version 4.0.62.
Later EGA Release v1.1 1990 This release ran interpreter version 4.0.64.
VGA release v1.0 1990 256-colour VGA support with redone background and character art. "Stump joke" still present. The changing sun positions were changed to a constant moon over the harbor, the Charles Atlas joke was changed, and the closeups featured a more realistic style. Commands at the bottom of the screen are still in green text.

This release ran interpreter version 5.0.15.
VGA release v1.1 1990 Copy protection still in place in this release.

This release ran interpreter version 5.0.18.
Later VGA release 1990 This release came as part of the LucasArts Classic Adventures compilation. The copy protection has been removed. It ran interpreter version 5.0.19.
CD-ROM release 1992 The game released on single CD-ROM. This version differs from the floppy disk release in that it no longer uses the iMuse audio engine, instead just using CD audio tracks for the music instead of MIDI. The "stump joke" is removed. Commands at the bottom of the screen are larger and are in purple, more like MI2, with graphic icons representing the inventory instead of text.
The Secret of Monkey Island: Special Edition July 2009 LucasArts' official remake of the original VGA game with updated hand-drawn visuals, a remastered musical score using live instruments and ambience added to certain locations where previously there was silence, voice work for characters, and a hint system. This version also gives you the option of switching betwen 2009 and the original audiovisuals at will.
The Secret of Monkey Island: Special Edition (GOG) (Unknown) Released by (Good Old Games) - this is the same as Special Edition above, except it also allows the game to be installed and played on a modern-day Windows PC by running it in a DOSBox shell.

Original Floppy Disk Contents

The floppy disks have no specific volume label.

Disk 1 of 4 (3.5" 720 KB DS/DD):

Directory of A:\     
MONKEY   EXE        71,809 09-01-90  12:00p
000 LFL 8,357 09-01-90 12:00p
901 LFL 2,264 09-01-90 12:00p
902 LFL 3,335 09-01-90 12:00p
904 LFL 4,368 09-01-90 12:00p
INSTALL BAT 3,184 09-01-90 12:00p
_INSTALL BAT 1,603 09-01-90 12:00p
DISK01 LEC 619,295 09-01-90 12:00p
MON1 TXT 0 11-21-21 12:09p
9 file(s) 714,215 bytes
9,216 bytes free


Disk 2 of 4 (3.5" 720 KB DS/DD):

Directory of A:\
DISK02   LEC       707,976 09-01-90  12:00p
1 file(s) 707,976 bytes
21,504 bytes free

Disk 3 of 4 (3.5" 720 KB DS/DD):

Directory of A:\
DISK03   LEC       707,833 09-01-90  12:00p
903 LFL 2,019 09-01-90 12:00p
2 file(s) 709,852 bytes
19,456 bytes free

Disk 4 of 4 (3.5" 720 KB DS/DD):

Directory of A:\
DISK04   LEC       642,947 09-01-90  12:00p
1 file(s) 642,947 bytes
87,040 bytes free


Installed Directory Contents

Once installed, the following directory structure exists in the game directory.

Directory of C:\GAMES\MONKEY
.            <DIR>         06/05/21   20:42
..           <DIR>         06/05/21   20:42
000 LFL 8,357 12-25-96 12:32a
901 LFL 2,264 12-25-96 12:32a
902 LFL 3,335 12-25-96 12:32a
903 LFL 2,019 12-25-96 12:32a
904 LFL 4,368 12-25-96 12:32a
DISK01 LEC 1,099,338 12-25-96 12:32a
DISK02 LEC 1,114,187 12-25-96 12:32a
DISK03 LEC 1,181,719 12-25-96 12:32a
DISK04 LEC 1,046,757 12-25-96 12:32a
MONKEY EXE 69,781 12-25-96 12:32a
SAVEGAME _A_ 20,014 12-25-96 12:32a
SAVEGAME _B_ 21,303 12-25-96 12:32a
SAVEGAME _C_ 21,384 12-25-96 12:32a
15 file(s) 4,594,826 bytes