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Johnny Castaway - Bugs

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Johnny was written for Windows 3.1, and Sierra never produced a version for later versions of Windows. You are quite likely to get the "Can't find data files" message under Windows 2000, as by default the files are installed in the winnt folder, and Johnny expects them to be in the windows folder. The solution is either to create a windows folder and put Johnny's files there, or to amend JohnnyCastaway.ini to say where the files really are. You can find more details on the Download Help page.

Some common screen glitches

Freezing — On 22 Mar 1997 Bruce Kid reported:
While running Windows 95 and on the sign-in screen that asks for a name and password, Johnny Castaway started up. It got as far as the title screen before it froze. I moved the mouse and it appropriately ended. This has occurred many, many times and at no time has it gotten past the title screen unless someone's desktop is open, in which case it runs like a dream. No sounds have issued forth and no signs of continuing are seen.

On 28 Mar 1997 Bruce added:
After a very prolonged period of not using my computer, Johnny finally got past the title screen. The animation ran at about two frames a minute, but the sound went ahead at regular speed. Sounds were coming out for actions that Johnny would not be seen doing for a long time. Occasionally, after my computer briefly retrieved something from its hard drive, probably a component of the screen saver, Johnny ran for about ten seconds at normal speed and the sounds were re-synchronized with the animation, until he froze again.

Missing Johnny

If there is not enough system memory available to run the whole program, you sometimes find that parts of the scene are missing, usually Johnny himself. You see his fishing rod, for example, and hear the grunts and splashes, but you can't see the man himself. Tim Walker, from Alberta, Canada, sent me the picture on the left. As you can see, there's no sign of the great man - Tim left his computer switched on for several hours, but Johnny never returned.

The picture on the right shows what can happen around new year, if there's not enough memory available. If there is even less memory available, the files won't load in at all, and you get a message to the effect that the data files can't be found.

Tattered banner


Black patch On 11 Sep 1997 Rebecca Pinkoski reported:
Black patchThere's another one I've noticed both at home and at work (where we use Win 3.1) as have a few other diehard Johnny-watchers: When Johnny is fishing off the left hand side of the island and pulls out his catch, a small black semicircular patch appears briefly then disappears.
Detailed investigations by our research department have revealed that this is probably the top of Johnny's fishing rod that has been put in the wrong place!


Graphic Glitch — After the scene described on the Pirates page, where the pirates tie Johnny up, when the galleon departs, it leaves a strange rectangle in the sea where the graphic isn't restored. This happens under Windows 9x as well, and it has been confirmed by several people. It must be a coding fault in the program.

Screen noise
Boot, but no fishing rod

Missing Rod — On 21 Aug 2002 Nick Tait notice that when Johnny goes fishing on the right side of the island, he catches a boot but instead of throwing the boot back in the water, he keeps it, but as soon as he turns around towards the palm tree, his fishing rod mysteriously disappears. I've watched him closely with other findings in the water on both sides of the island. When he catches something he likes, he'll bring both the catch and the rod with him, but with the boot on the right side of the island, it's only the boot, and the rod has disappeared.

Sean Coukell also noticed this on 20 Apr 2003, and sent this picture to prove it.

Overbuilt raft — Sean also noticed that Johnny still works on his raft even though it is completed.

Completed raft still being built


Transparent palm — On 16 Apr 2003 Germano wrote:
This morning I left my computer on, and when returning home, I notice that the Johnny's palm was transparent! And it stayed that way even through scenes changes (it remains transparent even at night).

Transparent palm

Cloud with lines on it

 Funny cloud — On 14 Nov 2000 Dave Campbell wrote:
 I saw a bug that did not draw the cloud correctly. I attached the gif file.

Flying Johnny — On 12 Jul 2000, Rebecca Pinkoski said:
Johnny climbed up to the top of the palm tree and jumped, and the computer froze up just for a second. A Johnny then finished the dive and went about his business but a second one stayed suspended in midair until the scene ended; after it blacked out things were back to normal. It looks like a weird version of the "twins" bug. I managed to get a picture of it.

Flying Johnny

Dancing in the sky

Ghost dancers — On 1 Jul 2000, Michael Jones said:
After Johnny did his rain dance and got struck by lightning, the scene refreshed and there were two ghost rain-dancers in the clouds! Click on picture for a bigger version.

On 5 Jan 1999 Valerie Ford sent us the picture on the right, and said:
This strange bug appeared today. The pirate ship arrived (daytime) and departed leaving the square — however instead of being scrambled, Johnny appeared ... in the square.

Johnny in the box

Johnny fishing in the box

 Dan Taitel on 22 Sep 1999 sent the picture on the left.

Giant Island — On 29 Jan 1997 Joel D Ray reported:
When I came in this morning, after leaving my computer on all night, my partner and I found a most interesting event taking place...
There were: 11 rafts each in a different location around the far side of the island...
10 Palm trees on the island...
I found that the one island that had grown to cover almost the entire screen with new islands forming to the lower left of the screen...
at one end of the island the tide was low showing the rock and at the other end the tide was high...
a MASSIVE cloud layer covered the entire top of the screen and extended down to the top of the trees...

I thought at first that this was just a program error or my computer screwed up again..BUT while we watched JC actually moved from one end of the island to the other end traveling without limits.

The funny part of it was while we watched for the next 30 minutes all JC did was walk around. There wasn't the usual fishing or fire building.

He later added:
Today another person working across from me also experienced a similar condition. Only his program created three islands but with 4 trees and 4 rafts and the clouds were also in the tops of the trees. Keep in mind that our computers run all the time and are never shut off.

On 13 Nov 1997 fan club member Remko Hartlief confirmed:
I'm a great Johnny Fan, and all the computers of the company are using the screensaver. And this is happening sometimes on some machine, so I have seen it.

Black boxes — On 22 Jan 1999, Patrick Cogan said:
I just loaded JC for the 8th time from 8 different sources. They all either crash or produce black rectangular boxes on the screen. I am sending you an example of the black box. (right — click on picture for a bigger version)

Black boxes

Dark Cloud

Dark cloud — On 21 Jan 1999 Simon Oliver said:
I only noticed today that the clouds had become black/dark blue.

I've never seen this before — has anyone else? Writing on 2 June 1999, John Romero IV suggested that the cloud was somehow being selected, in the same way as an icon can be selected by clicking on it.

Multiple islands — on 16 Sep 1996 Graham Bagshaw reported:
I have two PCs connected via a LAN, one running Win 3.11 and one running Win 95 — both have the JC screensaver running. The Win 95 one is only used for part of the time (so far). Today it's been switched on all day but I only used it briefly this morning, so JC has had a good run. I'm now seeing a scenario I've not seen before — several desert islands, one on top of the other with amassing clouds above. Johnny just walks about around islands and between them — at one stage there was a raft between them. I'm wondering whether this is a new scenario that I've never had time to see before, or whether it's a Win 95 effect on a program that was essentially designed for Win 3.11.

On 6 Dec 1996 Ralph Winmill confirmed:
The comment about multiple islands must be a bug coz I've seen it too and its not supposed to happen.

two rafts lots of islands

And on 7 Aug 1998 Jerry Rogers said:
I experienced the multiple island bug and have pictures (left — click on the pictures to see a bigger version). It was very strange, all he did was walk around, and every time the screen reset itself another island appeared.

red sea

On 25 Jun 1999 Paul Monda wrote:
I saw this screen (right) with I came in to work this morning. I am using Windows NT 4.0. This is the first time I have ever seen any of the multiple islands that others have reported.
After I captured this scene, I watched a while and when the screen blanked and came back again another island was added, making three full islands. By then the screen was getting pretty full!

Click on the picture to see a bigger version

weird scene

On 2 Jun 1999 John Romero IV wrote:
It was late at night, and I was about to turn off my computer, when I saw a weird scene in the screen saver. It was like day and night at the same time. There was also a trace of that graphic glitch that comes after the pirate scene in the background. I have not seen anything like this before. Nice to see something new for a change! :)

Click on the picture for a bigger version


Twins — On 7 Jan 1997 Marc Arseneault said:
When JC kicked-in this morning, what happened (I think anyway) is that the first JC sat down as part of regular routine, then stood up to go behind the tree and came out the other side. That's when I saw the Twins.
On 31 Jan 1997 he added:
The reason is simply that I had upgraded my BIOS setup to activate Energy Conservation on the hard disk and on my graphics card. This I know was the cause of the apparent bug because it went away as soon as I took away the Energy Conservation Measures.
I suspect something like this may cause the multiple islands etc. . .
However, other people have reported these when they don't have any energy saving programs running.

On 21 Aug 1998 Craig Castle reported:
Consistently, when the "terminator Johnny" scene appears, I get two Johnnies. One jumps up and down trying to attract the plane while the other shakes the tree to dislodge a coconut. This resolves by the time he is ready to throw the coconut at the plane.

Two JCs

Lots of Johnnies

Dozens of 'em — Felipe sent this picture On 26 Aug 2006 - he saw dozens of our little castaway.
Click on the picture or here for a bigger version

Multiple images — On 8 Jul 1998 Vernon Watson sent details and pictures:
On the morning of 8 July 1998, I captured the attached image just after the pirates had tied up Johnny and the seagull built a nest on him. The scene was normal except for a square area that contained 3 distorted Johnnys with the red helicopter in the background and part of his S.O.S. thinking cloud below... The glitch I sent you earlier today happened again. This time the square “insert” was part of the mermaid dinner scene..

Glitch with three extra Johnnies Glitch with a bit of the Mermaid Dinner
Click the pictures to see the bigger versions


Tidy your room — On 29 Sep 1998 Simon Oliver reported:
Once JC has done his dance and dinner bit with the mermaid, the gramophone and table remain in the background.
To see the bigger version of that, click the picture.


Two More — On 18 Mar 1999 Nathaniel Tatum reported:
I found a couple of bugs that were not mentioned on your site.
Number One. Today the screen was divided into 2 colors: orange and blue.
Number Two. I saw JC climb up the tree, then stop at about the middle, and climb back up.

No JC — On 9 Oct 1997 Timothy M. Foor reported:
I looked up to see the island completely normal with no Johnny, I thought that it might be the invisible Johnny bug that you have spoke of but there was no activity at all. No sounds of activity either, just no Johnny . . . I am running J.C. on a Windows NT platform. I let it go for about 3 hours with no change what so ever, but the system was not locked because the water graphic (waves on the edge of the island) continued to update. After exiting to the desktop and returning to J.C. everything was normal again. (Johnny was back and fishing).
Anyone else seen this?

Teleporting Johnny — On 27 Sep 2005 Philip Middleton reported:
I came into our living room and noticed Johnny as our computer screensaver. I then went to see what he was doing and saw that he would walk from the left of the island to the right, pause for a very brief amount of time, then turn to walk behind the tree, as if to go fishing/make a fire. He would walk halfway to the tree and then simultaneously disappear and reappear where he began, this repeated itself with no sign of stopping.

Hidden coconut — On 2 Oct 2005 Kayla Parker reported:
I've only seen this once. Johnny shakes his tree for a coconut. Then when he gets it, instead of knocking it against the tree, he puts it behind his tree.

You may sometimes get problems with sound. Here are a couple of examples:

Sound only — On 9 Dec 1998 Gary reported:
I've got an NT workstation and a couple of times JC kicked in with audio only. This last time he wouldn't go away after I became active on the computer. As I sit here and type this email I'm still hearing Johnny coming through my speakers.
Anyone else seen this? Or, more importantly, know what causes it? My guess is lack of low-end memory (but that's always my guess!).

Muttering — On 14 Oct 1996 John Bennett reported:
The other day, I had an MS-Word lock-up just as JC was muttering about something. This caused the sound card to go into permanent mutter mode. When I managed to exit into Windows, there was obviously still some legacy of JC trapped in there, because the muttering went on and on. Having left Windows and faced only with the DOS prompt, the muttering continued...
It was only by using Ctrl-Alt-Del that I finally managed to get some silence.
Tough guy, that JC.

It would be interesting to get confirmation of any of these bugs if you see them yourself, and I'd obviously also be interested in any new ones you may come across, so please Contact me


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Last updated on 24 June 2009 at 09:58