The Monkey Island Intro on Atari 2600

The intro from The Secret of Monkey Island™


I was just curious how much Monkey Island I could fit on an Atari 2600 cartridge. This has the intro, the (rough) TIA music track, and some brief game footage, all on an 8K ROM.

I had originally planned to make the game level minorly playable, but I was being too fancy with the graphics and it didn't work out.

You can compare this to the Apple II lo-res version I made that lets you play part of the game.


This is all running on an Atari 2600 from 1977, with 128 bytes of RAM, a 20 bit framebuffer, and an 8k cartridge (bank switched as you only could get 4k w/o hacks). It's a 1MHz 6507 (pin reduced 6502) programmed entirely in assembly language, and racing the beam to more or less do anything. I won't go into it more here but programming for this platform is quite the challenge.


The Music was hard to get sounding good, the TIA is infamous for not having proper notes. I had a hard time trying to making it sound good, you'll notice I dropped the second channel just because it made the main melody hard to hear.

In the end this is based on the original song by Michael Land, but specifically the piano sheet music arranged by w3sp.


Capture on real hardware:


These are taken with the Stella emulator.

Opening Logo. Managed to get the asymmetric screen (race the beam!) plus some sparkles that are a missile. All in a single-scanline kernel.
The Island of Melee. Cheated a bit here, had to get rid of all but the main mountain, and then made it symmetric to make the kernel easier. I then used sprite0/sprite1 to add some extra colors. Finding room for the 48-pixel text (and getting it to display right) Was also a pain.
The Title. Reusing the graphics from the Apple II port. This actually looks worse than that because I can only easily have two colors per line. I did use sprites to let some of the logo escape out over the graphics. I also attempted the moving cloud from some versions of the game, it sould go behind the mountain but if I turn on playfield priority it also ends up behind the stars which isn't what we want.
Gameplay. I originally meant for this to be playable. I also wanted to animate the fire. All beyond the time constraints I had. I was also trying to be too fancy by using alternating scanline graphics to try to fake more colors (got this idea from the recent Lode Runner port). This just made everything complex. Was also sad I couldn't get guybrush looking nicer with only one sprite. Maybe if I had more time I could use some missile graphics to help.
The Three Trials. Nothing fancy going on here besides an asymmetric playfield. The music playing reminds me of Wavy Navy for some reason. I guess just the 2-channel square wave harmony.
Insert Cartridge 22. Not sure how many it would really take. This is a joke from the original game, when you looked in a tree stump it would ask you to insert a floppy disk with an implausibly high number on it. They had to remove that from the game on later releases as it just ended up confusing/upsetting people.

System Requirements


Disk Images


Pre-emptive Short Answers to Common Questions

Development Notes

8 December 2022 -- Release v2

Really didn't like having a partially done demo, so found some time to fix all the major outstanding bugs. The gameplay scene still looks fairly bad but the rest is working and I even got rid of all the between-scene glitches. Sent it to sillyventure we'll see if they will update to this version.

7 December 2022 -- Release v1

Spent more time than I should have trying to get this done before the Sillyventure deadline, as they had been bugging me to submit something. Was unclear to me when the deadline was (midnight on the 8th? Which day is that). Wasn't happy with the version I submitted as it was still glitchy and incomplete in spots.

October 2022

Started working on this. Originally planned just the demo, but thought maybe some minimal gameplay of just guybrush walking around. Did get a lot of the graphics done. Tried to be too fancy in places. Realized how much of a pain it is to even get multi-color sprites going.

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Other VMW Software Demos
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