Have You Played… Spank The Monkey?


Have You Played? is an endless stream of game retrospectives. One a day, every day, perhaps for all time.

When the teacher wasn’t looking in computer class, me and all my friends were doing this. You can still do it now. Grip your mouse with one hand and play Spank the Monkey.

Monkey was one of a spate of Flash browser games that seemed to all be about measuring the speed or distance at which you could do something. You’d move the mouse one way and back again to launch an animal into the air or, in this case, smack an inflatable monkey with a large swaying hand. The hand swaying is still very satisfying.

But there’s a sub-game in there, too. Swinging your mouse the ‘official’ way has a hard limit on the speed it’s possible to achieve, but if you move your mouse so far away from the monkey that your pointer exits the playable area of the game, you’d thus stop controlling the hand. You can then move your mouse pointer around the playable area and re-enter it from the other side, causing the hand to snap to your mouse’s new position in an instant and with a force much greater than naturally possible.

You can call it cheating, but I call it a game with a deceptively high skill ceiling. We got probably another week of enjoyment as a result of trying to manipulate that bug to the greatest effect.


  1. A Gentleman and a Taffer says:

    Err, no comment

  2. jestermx6 says:

    When i drag the hand out of the window it resets. So…did you actually play it recently? Or are you just describing how the game played in 2004?

    • Doomsayer says:

      Here’s how I did it: Click and drag the hand a bit, then right click to loose focus on the game. Move your cursor across the right click menu out of the game’s box and around it. Re-enter on the opposite side of the monkey and left click. Takes me a few tries for it to work.

  3. Lumière says:

    Never had, until today. Theres go another work day… Thanks again RPS. BTW, 400 MPH is my record.

  4. Jalan says:

    I’ve seen David O. Russell’s first feature length Spanking the Monkey, that counts… right?

  5. Sin Vega says:

    That trick was what came to mind. Plus one particular version that had a very satisfying sound and short music clip afterwards. Fun times.

  6. Carra says:

    I think I have played it before. Reminds me of a Penguin throwing game…

  7. Doctor Pandafaust says:

    When I was young, I had a gameboy game called “Spanky’s Quest”. It was a terrible 2D platformer that was about a Monkey (called Spanky) who was fighting evil possessed fruit. I have no idea what dark corner of the universe that game crawled out of.

  8. JustAchaP says:

    Wow, this was one of the games people at my high school played when the teachers weren’t looking.

  9. briangw says:

    I remember trying this at work years ago and how we all tried to achieve the fastest speeds.

    One way we cheated was to set the mouse speed and acceleration in Windows to the max speed. Good times indeed. Lol

  10. hossgifford says:

    I made Spank the Monkey across 3 late evenings after work in October 2001.

    I was invited to make a game for an online game jam called Vector Lounge in November so I didn’t have a lot of time — it needed to be simple. My friend Gaetan had just returned from New York with a gift for me of a small inflatable monkey with one hand in the air, and there I found my inspiration.

    My daughter Sarah had just been born, and being only a couple of weeks old would be awake through much of the night. I offered to do the night shifts, and so with a nearly newborn baby on my lap, I tapped away at my keyboard writing the code to build Spank the Monkey. It was one of those projects where it was fully formed and complete in my mind before writing a single line of code, or modelling the 3d hand, and all I needed to do was bring my vision to life.

    It was launched a couple of weeks later as part of the Flash Forward conference in Amsterdam. I was a bit embarrassed how trivial my toy of a game was, alongside the true genius of Andries Odendaal’s beautiful walking skeleton and the inverse kinematics code he wrote to make it all work.

    But something about Spank the Monkey clicked with the world at large. It’s an early example of going viral, from nobody to millions of users in days. This is long before cloud hosting and CDNs, and the Vector Lounge organizers told me later that the weekend after launch they had to deploy a dedicated server with just the one Spank the Monkey SWF file being served as the demand was crashing the server with everything else on it.

    Another report someone sent me claimed it was linked to in blogs more than the new Star Wars trailer. That really embarrassed me — I only spent 3 evenings to make my game.

    I didn’t make any money directly from Spank the Monkey. I can extrapolate from my analytics how many people view the stolen version on AddictingGames.com and can therefore calculate the hundreds of thousands of dollars in ad revenue they’ve gained from it over the years, so I eventually caved in and put a banner ad beside my hosted version at Spank.tm. Forunately, enough people click that ad to allow me to renew the ridiculously expensive .TM domain name, but not much else!

    I still get emails from time to time from people that remember playing the game in school or work, thanking me for happy memories. And that’s when it all becomes worthwhile. Knowing that someone received joy from something I created makes is what it’s all about.

    Thank you to Graham and the RPS crew for reminding me and others about Spank the Monkey. Just for you guys, you might like to know I hid an easter egg in there. When I showed the game at Flash conferences around the world I needed a way to guarantee that I could Spank faster than 200mph to trigger the Good Times tune, so I added a keyboard modifier for when the H (for Hoss) key is pressed. I can’t remember if it’s still in the latest version but it was definitely in the original from 16 years ago.