Twin Galaxies, the organization that tracks video game world records and is very much involved in the retro gaming scene, has come down hard on former record holder Billy Mitchell. We say "former" because the organization has officially stripped the King of Kong star of all his high scores in its database, including a longstanding score of 1,062,800 points in Donkey Kong, and also banned him from participating in the organization's competitive leaderboards. Ouch.
This is a dark day for Mitchell, who rose to prominence in the retro arcade gaming scene for a series of high scores throughout the years. He also gained a bit of mainstream fame as one of leading subjects in the 2007 documentary "The King of Kong: A Fistful of Quarters" where he was portrayed as somewhat of a villain. More recently, however, his scores have come under increased scrutiny.
The main reason for this is his suspected use of MAME (emulation software) to achieve his scores, as opposed to using original arcade hardware. Any scores obtained on emulation software are not eligible for Twin Galaxies' leaderboards.
Twin Galaxies member Jeremy Young (@xelnia) brought the issue to attention by filing a dispute against the validity of Mitchell's scores, which prompted an in-depth investigation into Mitchell's score submissions, including a technical analysis of video feeds and screenshots.
"Jeremy’s assertion concluded that not only can original Donkey Kong arcade hardware not produce the board transition images shown in the recordings, but that these transitions were actually generated through the use of MAME. The rules for submitting scores for the original arcade Donkey Kong competitive leaderboards requires the use of original arcade hardware only. The use of MAME or any other emulation software for submission to these leaderboards is strictly forbidden," Twin Galaxies.
The organization also consulted with at least two different third parties that conducted their own evaluations, all of which came to the same conclusion—Mitchell misrepresented his submissions. To be clear, that in and of itself is not proof that he manipulated MAME to obtain his high scores, submitting scores obtained through emulation software and presenting them as being obtained on arcade hardware doesn't look good for Mitchell.
While the situation is bad for Mitchell, it benefits Steve Wiebe, another gaming legend who also starred in King of Kong.
"With this ruling, Twin Galaxies can no longer recognize Billy Mitchell as the first million point ‘Donkey Kong’ record holder," Twin Galaxies added. "According to our findings, Steve Wiebe would be the official 1st million point record holder."
Twin Galaxies also notified Guinness World Records of its findings. What this ultimately means for Mitchell is that his place in history is now tarnished, and officially erased. And because Mitchell's been banned from future competitions, getting back into the history books is highly unlikely at this point. It's like seeing the 'Game Over' screen and realizing you've run out of quarters.
Thumbnail and Top Image Source: Flickr via David Fulmer