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The Secret of Monkey Island

aka: El secreto de Monkey Island, Le Secret de L'Ile aux Singes, MI1, Monkey Island 1, Mutiny on Monkey Island, TSOMI
Moby ID: 616
DOS Specs

Description official descriptions

Deep in the Caribbean lies Melee Island, ruled by the governor Elaine Marley. The cruel pirate LeChuck is deeply in love with her - so deeply that he refuses to accept his own death. As a ghost, he dwells with his undead crew somewhere near the mysterious Monkey Island. Meanwhile, a young fellow named Guybrush Threepwood is determined to become a real pirate. At the Scumm Bar, he meets three pirates who tell him he has to complete three difficult tasks in order to be worthy of this title. But as Guybrush is trying to complete these tasks, he encounters the lovely governor, and this meeting changes his life forever. Risking to incur the wrath of LeChuck, Guybrush has to prove his wit is as sharp as his sword, and figure out a way to foil the ghost pirate's plans.

The Secret of Monkey Island is an adventure game that utilizes the command verb-based SCUMM interface first introduced in Maniac Mansion: the player constructs commands for Guybrush by selecting an appropriate verb and then combining it with an object or an inventory item. Objects that can be interacted with are highlighted when the player places a cursor over them. The game is the first LucasArts adventure in which it is impossible to get irrevocably stuck; like in Loom, the player character also cannot die. The branching dialogue system, where the player chooses between several available responses during conversations, allows the player to talk to characters in different ways without fearing a wrong choice and is often used as a humorous device.

The puzzles are predominantly inventory-based; most of the problems in the game are solved by picking up items and combining them with each other or with objects (or people) in the game world. Several tasks are dialogue-based; among those is the humorous "insult swordfighting", which involves Guybrush learning and choosing witty insults while dueling pirates.

The CD DOS and FM Towns versions of the game have a slightly updated interface (with graphically represented inventory items instead of the text-only labels in the original version), as well as CD audio music tracks.

Spellings

  • ヒンキー・をむランド γƒ¦γƒΌγƒ¬γ‚€ζ΅·θ³Šε€§ι¨’ε‹•οΌ - Japanese spelling
  • ηŒ΄ε³Άε°θ‹±ι›„ - Chinese spelling

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Credits (DOS version)

85 People (83 developers, 2 thanks) · View all

Reviews

Critics

Average score: 89% (based on 60 ratings)

Players

Average score: 4.0 out of 5 (based on 731 ratings with 27 reviews)

One of the greatest adventure games of all time! Bar None!

The Good
The game which has defined it's own niche in adventure gaming history! Everything from the comedies, music, graphics(for that time; but I still love the graphics), adventure elements, atmosphere, dialogues, interaction, and even the facial expressions are outstanding! The music though sounds best with an MT-32 or using MT-32 emulation, nonetheless is still great through the ordinary SB/AdLib mode sounds and it captivates you right from the beginning. I still hum the tunes now and then, after all these years! It's that good! As for the graphics, it was great for that time, even in the original 16-colour mode version. The newer 256-colour VGA mode enhances everything. As you might have already know, the swordfight sequence is one of a kind, using insults to win. Each and every locations are very memorable. Everywhere, it's lively and colorful. All the characters have their own way of conveying their humorous dialogues. The facial expressions they show are astounding. I first played this game in my 286. Even now, it plays well in the latest machines well. Too bad other people couldn't make a game like this anymore, since all are too busy jumping into the hi-tech, eye-catching graphics band-wagon where there is deficit of good gameplay. This game has captivated me before with it's 16 and/or 256 colour modes and AdLib/Mt-32 sound modes and STILL captivates me!

The Bad
I liked every aspect of this game except for the single occasion where you have to learn the insults by trial and error till you complete your 'set' of insults so that you have all the 'required' answers. But, this game is so good that you want to forgive any shortcomings you come across. And I did! Nothing to complain about. :)

The Bottom Line
Hmmm....I guess those who have this game are already die-hard fans like me. So you guys know how GREAT this game is!! As for any new comers, if you like playing adventure games, DON'T EVER miss this game! You miss this, and you miss an important part of your life! Play this and be awed! You'll be converted to a fan of MI series on the spot! :)

DOS · by sfdf (6) · 2004

One of the best adventure games ever.

The Good
The graphics are good even by todays standards. The sound is good (for the full version) and the story is excellent. The dialogue is funny and the characters are as well.

The Bad
There isn't much I don't like about this game. Aside from a few technical problems that can arise with any game, the only thing that comes to mind is when you beat the game the credits will role then after that a line saying : "Turn off your computer and go to sleep" will appear and there is nothing you can do but press CTRL-ALT-DEL. this will take you back to windows. But with older computers it might be a problem. Other than that there is nothing wrong with the game itself.

The Bottom Line
You play a young wannabe pirate named Guybrush Threepwood. He has traveled to Melee Island, (located deep in the Carribean and covered in a perpetual night) to become a pirate. Along the way he learns many things about the pirate lifestyle. And when the governer is kidnapped by the game's villain. Guybrush sets out to Monkey Island to rescue her. A great game to own. But own it on CD. I was introduced to this game in 1994 by one of my friends. When I got it as a birthday Present in 1996 I was elated. But it was on 3.5 discs and the sound totally crapped out. I had to use the computers internal sound. Last november I bought it again only this time on CD and I have played it eversince. So if you want this game get it on CD. It is definately worth buying. If only the second one was as good...

DOS · by Stephen Breuer (2) · 2002

Arguably the only adventure game that could be described as a true masterpiece.

The Good
What is the secret of Monkey Island? Well, it's the unique combination of great graphics, sounds, storyline, gameplay and fun. A story with pirates, monkeys, grog and silly jokes. C'mon, nobody really knows what the secret of Monkey Island is. It is the best-kept secret in Lucas Arts history and many people would say it doesn't exist. George Lucas' game company has released four amazing games and hasn't revealed the secret.

First of all, it has to be said that Monkey Island was a revolutionary adventure game. It didn't have the same fantastic medieval story of a kindgom which made King's Quest a classic and was incorporated by thousands of other adventures and RPGs. It didn't have the uncomfortable controls which made some games virtually impossible to play. It was also technically much better than all the other games at the time. Can you remember another 1990 game with perfect graphics and sound? And, of course, it was humorous. The fine, sophisticated sense of humor of the game was something really different and became a Lucas Arts trademark. To say the least, all the other game companies which tried to copy Lucas Arts humor failed miserably, with some few exceptions.

Ah, and your character cannot die in Monkey Island. Yes, don't worry. Monkey Island is very much like a cartoon - the character simply refuses to do something that could result in his death. So... just go ahead, try to jump off the cliff... you'll get a response such as "No, thanks". Why worry then? Do whatever you will... as in a good action movie, the happy ending is guaranteed.

And you don't have to worry if you forgot to do something first: you won't get stuck because of an action you should have done, the game doesn't allow it. You may ask: so, what's the point? Where's the fun? Monkey Island doesn't need that to be incredibly fun.

Any adventure gamer should be familiar to the great storyline behind Monkey Island series. Guybrush Threepwood is the good guy who wants to be a pirate. He is not tough and avoid fighting, but has brains. Yes, this guy may look naive and coward, but appearances are tricky: he is really smart and is capable of doing incredible things. To reach the status of pirate, he has to accomplish some tasks, and that's the point of the game. There's also a bad guy, LeChuck, a ghost pirate. Both fight for the love of Elaine Marley, governor of Melèe Island, which obviously happens to prefer Guybrush. Maybe because LeChuck is scary, green and rotten. And evil. Well, that's the background. The story is too complex and develops strangely (we could say it is unpredictable), something which is rare in an adventure game.

The gameplay is absolutely amazing and set new standards. Monkey Island was very easy to play and the mouse pointer was precise, something which was nearly impossible in a 1990 DOS game. The interface was really great and used the Lucas Arts SCUMM (Script Creation Utility for Maniac Mansion) system. It was quite simple and intuitive: the player chooses a verb in a list of 12 possibilities (such as "pick up", "talk to", "use", "open", "close") to interact with other characters and objects. It became even better in 1991 when Lucas Arts made a Monkey Island remake and revised the SCUMM system to remove quite useless verbs (such as "fix") and remain with only 9. The interface became identical to that one featured in Monkey Island 2.

The atmosphere is outrageous. Lucas Arts managed to create one of the best pirate stories ever seen. When playing the game, you should remember of Stevenson's Treasure Island: it is creative and captivating, the true creation of a genius. And it has a plus: it's a comedy.

The puzzles were a real challenge. They were really clever and required lots of logical (or, maybe, illogical) thinking. Even if they were easy, they were something else. It may have been a pity that Monkey Island was released in 1990 because most of other adventure games (released before and after) became ridiculously obvious.

The original EGA graphics were very good for the time. But they became a little dated with the popularization of VGA and Lucas Arts released a new version to keep up with the top games in 1991, including Monkey Island 2 (which had fantastic graphics). The resolution was the same, but the game became much more colorful (while EGA graphics had 16 colors, VGA had 256). The EGA game is darker and may have a greater ambience because of that. But the VGA graphics are really beautiful (not as beautiful as Monkey 2 graphics, which was released roughly at the same time as the VGA version) and feature scenes which could have been paintings. Backgrounds were simply amazing: the player felt as if he was in the 17th or 18th century.

Monkey Island sound was impressive. It had a real soundtrack. The song was really very nice and well executed. Every classic has to have great music, and Monkey Island is no exception (well, George Lucas knows that as nobody does - what about Star Wars main theme? And the Imperial March?). Well, Monkey Island also had a great theme. The song has style and can be clearly identified. The sound effects were also nice.

Monkey Island is, in fact, a game which could have turned into a great Hollywood movie without much of effort. Instead of doing crap movies based on games (such as the pathetic Street Fighter, Mortal Kombat, Double Dragon, Tomb Raider and others), they could have made Monkey Island. The story seems like a movie script: it makes us laugh and cry, has subtle details, jokes and lots of adventure. In fact, Monkey Island is a cool mix of everything piracy meant to pop culture - it has elements from Stevenson's Treasure Island book, from the Peter Pan stories, from the Spielberg's Goonies movie and from Pirates of Caribbean Disney theme attraction.

Well, what else could be said? It is arguably THE BEST adventure game ever. It is perfect in every aspect - or, at least, in every aspect that really matters (c'mon, graphics and sounds always get dated, but the storyline resists to the inexorable passing of time). But that doesn't make a true classic. It has harmony, class and originality. It has something else, its own - weird - magic.

The Bad
It would be unfair to say Monkey Island has no problems. But they are so small in comparison to its outrageous qualities we simply forget they exist.

OK, the game could be longer. We get addicted to it and we cannot accept it has finished. We cannot get enough of Monkey Island!

Another problem is that Lucas Arts has not done another Monkey Island remake. It would be amazing to play it with Super VGA graphics and surround sound. And it may get really hard to find this game to buy these days.

It may not have the hi-tech features of the newest adventures, but advanced technology is all most of them offer. Monkey Island was once the pinnacle of technological achievement. It's not anymore. But - just like wine - this game gets better with the age.

There's another thing. Someone can complain about Lucas Arts way of making adventure games. What's the point if the character can't die? Is this just a solving puzzle game? No one can deny that is a valid point of view...

The Bottom Line
TRUE CLASSIC. Brilliant. Unique. Indescribable. Legendary. Really catching. The Ferrari of adventure games. To sum it up, no adventure games can keep up with Monkey Island - not even its sequels.

DOS · by Mumm-Ra (393) · 2003

[ View all 27 player reviews ]

Discussion

Subject By Date
UK Release? Edwin Drost (7587) Mar 24th, 2017
3.5 Disk Edwin Drost (7587) Jan 22nd, 2017
MI, a real phoenix VVP (141) Jun 9th, 2009
Talkie Wormspinal (619) Feb 20th, 2008
A disturbing walkthrough for the game Sciere (892668) Oct 16th, 2007

Trivia

1001 Video Games

The Secret of Monkey Island appears in the book 1001 Video Games You Must Play Before You Die by General Editor Tony Mott.

Budget

The budget of the game was $130.000.

CD version

The CD version of the game features CD music, a furnished interface with graphical inventory items and new sound effects not seen in the disk version. If you try to load the game with "e" parameter, you won't see the inventory because it is 256 colors only.

Concept notices

One of the first scribbles for Monkey Island that were used for the different story-branches hang in the bathroom of George 'The Fat Man' Sanger's studio in Austin/Texas.

Cut content

  • Originally, there used to be a ship combat sequence in Monkey Island. While this scene didn't make it into the final cut, the idea was re-used in Monkey Island 3.
  • At one point, the developers actually deleted a whole bunch of the games because it didn't flow well with the story.
  • Ron Gilbert was going to make the part where you get Meathook to join your crew longer, but the idea was axed.

Copy protection

The original version came with a code-wheel copy protection, in which you had to mix and match several pirate's faces and assemble their names.

Demo version

The demo version features story, dialogues and puzzles not present in the main game. More information can be found in its game entry.

Distribution

According to a G4 interview with Tim Schafer because Lucasarts was so small at the time and the first shipment of Monkey Island was larger than normal, Lucasarts asked the staff to go help stuff the boxes for the first shipment. So you might own a copy packed by the creators themselves!

DOS versions

There are three different versions of the game: 16-color EGA disk version, 256-color VGA disk version, and 256-color VGA CD-ROM version.

Gags

  • When wandering in the forest, if you examine a certain tree stump very closely, Guybrush sees something in there and tries to crawl in. The game then asks you for disks you don't have, and Guybrush says something like "Oh well, I guess I don't fit".
  • Keep escaping and returning from the cannibal village and the prison door will change its shape to a more modern door.
  • Did you know that you CAN kill Guybrush? Just stay under water for more than 10 minutes.
  • Did you know you can make Meathook make his tattoo talk? Ask him at his hut!!!

Guybrush Threepwood

Guybrush got his name from the fact that in DPaint, the art software being used at the time, you saved palettes and other art particulars in files called "brushes", and the one for the guy who was the hero was called the "guybrush". "Threepwood" was decided by a company contest.

Herman Toothrot

The character of Herman Toothrot was added because the script was running a little slow once you got to Monkey Island...the player needed someone to talk to.

Inspiration

Though he's long been on the record regarding Monkey Island's inspiration from the Pirates of the Caribbean theme park ride (the ride, having earned its own movies, effectively nullifying any chance of a Monkey Island movie once in development), Ron Gilbert has come clean regarding another primary source of inspiration, a recently-back-in-print book by Tim Power entitled On Stranger Tides, ensuring a heavy injection of voodoo into the Monkey Island mythos.

Legal trouble

  • The giant cotton swab, used as the key to the monkey head, was originally named a "Q-Tip" after the commercial brand name; however, according to Ron Gilbert, it had to be changed because "it would have been OK if we were using the Q-Tip in a "correct fashion", but taking a giant Q-Tip and sticking it into a stone monkey's ear is not "correct usage"."
  • Originally, examining a skeleton in the voodoo lady's hut would cause Guybrush to comment: "Looks like an emaciated Charles Atlas." After a cease-and-desist letter from Charles Atlas Ltd., it was changed in later versions of the game.

Monkey Island

"Monkey Island" is a colloquial term used to describe the area on the roof of the bridge on a modern cargo ship. It is mainly used by the crews of the large cargo ships operating in the East Indies, South East Asia and the South Pacific.

Mono Island

Did you know there IS a real Monkey Island in the Caribbean Sea? Well, it's real name is Mono Island, but the word "mono" means "monkey" in Spanish.

PC Gamer release

A complete version of The Secret of Monkey Island is available on Classic Games Collection CD featured in the July 2000 issue of PC Gamer Magazine.

References: LucasArts employees

  • The original closeup of Elaine (where Guybrush is speechless) was supposedly based on Avril Harrison, an artist who was working for Lucas Games at the time.
  • Carla, the Swordmaster, was a likeness of Carla Green who was at that time in charge of Lucas Games Product Support.
  • The guy who was in the Troll suit on the bridge was meant to look like George Lucas.
  • The name of Guybrush's archnemesis LeChuck was born after Steve Arnold, the General Manager at Lucasfilm Games in 1989, had been telling Ron Gilbert (the series creator) how he really liked the name "Chuck" and would like some character in one of their games to be called "Chuck".

References: Games

  • Lucasarts makes a stab at Sierra adventure games when Guybrush walks off the ledge of the outcrop containing the projectile device on Monkey Island. A standard Sierra adventure death dialogue box emerges saying that your character (Guybrush) has died and you can now choose to Restore, Restart or Quit the game.
  • In the SCUMM bar, one of the pirates is wearing a button with the word LOOM written on it. All he says is "Aye," but if you ask him about LOOM, he will give you a full and lengthy advertisment to LOOM - the Idea was re-used again in Monkey Island 3 with Manny Calavera ( from Grim Fandango)
  • Just like other games from LucasArts, this has also a reference to Sam & Max. Just look at the idols neat the big monkey head.
  • In the demo of the games, when you went to the fortune tellers place, you could touch the chalice...and you would turn into Indiana Jones.

References

  • The troll on the toll bridge saying 'none shall pass' was inspired by Monty Python and the Holy Grail.
  • The SCUMM bar early in the game is obviously a reference to the SCUMM game engine (which stands for "Script Creation Utility for Maniac Mansion"), created by Ron Gilbert of Lucasfilm Games/LucasArts, and which has been used in several other adventure titles including The Secret of Monkey Island.
  • In order to practice insult swordfighting, Guybrush stops pirates on the road and says the line "My name is Guybrush Threepwood. Prepare to die!" This is probably taken from the duel between Inigo Montoya and the six-fingered man in The Princess Bride. During that duel Montoya repeats "My name is Inigo Montoya. You killed my father. Prepare to die!" 5 or 6 times.
  • During the Governor's wedding scene near the end, Guybrush has the option to yell "Elaine!" which is a reference to a line from the movie The Graduate. Ron Gilbert liked that so much that he gave this first name to the originally nameless Governor.

Ron Gilbert

Stan is reportedly Ron Gilbert's favorite character in all of the Monkey Island games.

Sales

According to an interview with Ron Gilbert in the German magazine PC Games 01/2013, the game sold more copies in Germany than in the USA.

Secret of Monkey Island

THE Secret of Monkey Island has never actually been revealed by Ron Gilbert, but some people believe that it has to do with the anachronisms in the games.

SEGA CD port

The Secret of Monkey Island saw a Sega CD version in 1992, soon after the system was released on the U.S. The Sega CD version is based on the 256-color VGA version of SOMI...even the layout of the CD Audio is exactly the same as the PC version.

Except there is a mastering error for the background sound effects. Specifically, the night time forest sound effect on track 24 is only two seconds long, and this track continues on to the next three tracks, also cut off in seconds. Also, because of this error, there is no jungle background sound effect that should be present in track 25. Indeed, it’s curious to hear night time ambiance heard at Melee Island during the daytime when Guybrush is in the jungle on Monkey Island.

A fix to this problem can be done by taking the last two audio tracks from the PC-CDROM version (tracks 24 and 25) and, usually through an extraction of the data and individual audio tracks of the Sega CD disc (except tracks 24, 25, 26, and 27) and a creation of a proper cuesheet (complete with the 2 second pregap for all audio tracks) for burning through CDRWin, restore the correct sound effects playback for the game at the points affected for the Sega CD version.

Software Toolworks

The CD version of the game was distributed by Software Toolworks at one point - with one of their computer map programs.

Speech version

Despite the rumours, no speech version was created.

Spiffy

The back cover of some versions of the game has a screenshot with a close-up of Spiffy the Dog. The image is however not available in the original game. It was cut to save space on the floppy disks, but the marketing team had already chosen it for the artwork. The image of the close-up was added in the 2009 game The Secret of Monkey Island: Special Edition.

Win the Game

The "FUNCTION AND COMMAND KEYS" section of the enclosed reference documentation listed a somewhat peculiar option after the more conventional game interface options:- Reposition Instantly (CTRL+R)

  • Quit Game (CTRL+C or ALT+X)

- Win the Game (CTRL+W). Enthusiastic game-players who jumped in before fully reading the manual might never have encountered that little easter egg. When the key combination was entered, the game would prompt the player: "Are you sure you want to win? (Y/N)" If the player responded Y, the screen would blank, then triumphantly flash"You Win! You scored 800 out of 800 points", regardless of how much (if any) of the game had been completed, all the while tootling the goofily festive music from the Fettucini Bros. circus tent. The regular closing credits (with more than a few joke titles there also) would follow, the entire interactive remainder of the game having been neatly bypassed. Truly here was proof that the playing of the game is far more satisfying than the mere winning of it.

Apparently some permutation of this easter egg is revisited in distant sequel Escape From Monkey Island.

Awards

  • Computer Gaming World
    • December 1993 (Issue #114) – Introduced into the Hall of Fame
    • November 1996 (15th anniversary issue) – #19 in the "150 Best Games of All Time" list
    • November 1996 (15th anniversary issue) – #2 Funniest Computer Game (together with Monkey Island 2: LeChuck's Revenge)
    • November 1996 (15th anniversary issue) – #2 Most Rewarding Ending of All Time
  • Enchanted Realms
    • July 1991 (Issue #7) – Distinctive Adventure Award
  • GameStar (Germany)
    • Issue 12/1999 – #12 in the "100 Most Important PC Games of the Nineties" ranking
  • PC Gamer
    • April 2005 – #49 in the "50 Best Games of All Time" list
  • Power Play
    • Issue 01/1991 – Best Adventure in 1990 (Amiga and DOS versions)
  • Retro Gamer
    • October 2004 (Issue #9) – #33 Best Game Of All Time (Readers' Vote)
  • ST Format
    • August 1991 (Issue #8) – #1 Top Atari ST Classic Games (Editorial staff vote)
    • January 1993 (issue #42) – #1 in '50 finest Atari ST games of all time' list

Information also provided by Adam Baratz, Boston Low, Daniel Albu, Emepol, Felix Knoke, Itay Brenner, James1, Jason Harang, Kip Wells, Marek, PCGamer77, Pseudo_Intellectual, Rambutaan, rstevenson, Sasha Smith, Satoshi Kunsai, Sciere, showmeyourspine, Silverblade, Swordmaster, Trevor Harris, Unicorn Lynx, William Shawn McDonie and Zovni

Related Games

Escape from Monkey Island
Released 2000 on Windows, 2001 on PlayStation 2, Macintosh
The Curse of Monkey Island
Released 1999 on DOS, Windows
The Curse of Monkey Island
Released 1997 on Windows, 2018 on Macintosh
Tales of Monkey Island
Released 2009 on Windows, 2010 on Macintosh, PlayStation 3
Monkey Island: Special Edition Bundle
Released 2010 on PlayStation 3, 2010 on Windows, 2011 on Xbox 360
Monkey Island 2: LeChuck's Revenge
Released 1991 on DOS, 1992 on Amiga, Macintosh...
The Secret of Monkey Island: Special Edition
Released 2009 on Windows, Xbox 360, 2010 on Macintosh...
Tales of Monkey Island: Chapter 2 - The Siege of Spinner Cay
Released 2009 on Windows, 2010 on Macintosh, PlayStation 3...
Tales of Monkey Island: Chapter 1 - Launch of the Screaming Narwhal
Released 2009 on Windows, 2010 on Macintosh, 2016 on PlayStation 3...

Related Sites +

  • Hints for Monkey Island 1
    Stuck? These hints will help you solve the game without spoiling it for you.
  • ScummVM
    Get "The Secret of Monkey Island", as well as many other adventure games, to run on modern systems by using ScummVM, a legal and free program.
  • Secret of Monkey Island comic book
    The story of MI1 presented as a comic book in the art style of the Curse of Monkey Island (MI3), by fan artist Paco Vink. Not yet complete, but ongoingly in progress over the past three years!
  • The Scumm Bar
    A wonderful site dedicated to the Monkey Island games.
  • The Secret of Monkey Island: The Play
    In spring of 2004 a high school mounted a student production of a theatrical adaptation of the game. Here is the first of nine segments on YouTube.
  • The World of Monkey Island
    A comprehensive site about the world of Monkey Island games from Lucasarts.

Identifiers +

Contribute

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Contributors to this Entry

Game added by IJan.

Amiga added by POMAH. Macintosh added by Kabushi. Antstream added by lights out party. FM Towns, Atari ST added by Terok Nor. SEGA CD added by Unicorn Lynx.

Additional contributors: Trixter, MAT, Unicorn Lynx, Jeanne, Apogee IV, tarmo888, Pseudo_Intellectual, Havoc Crow, DarkDante, Ricky Derocher, 6β…ž of Nine, Petr Maruska, Patrick Bregger, Narushima, Jo ST, FatherJack, firefang9212.

Game added December 25th, 1999. Last modified November 19th, 2023.