Nearly six years after the dispute first began, Billy Mitchell’s record Donkey Kong scores have been officially restored by Twin Galaxies.
In a statement posted on its website, Twin Galaxies announced that all of Mitchell’s score have been reinstated on its historical database after first being removed back in 2018. They include the 1,047,200 score shown in the documentary King of Kong; the 1,050,200 run referred to as the Mortgage Brokers score, and the 1,062,800 performance known as the Boomers score.
Mitchell was originally banned from Twin Galaxies after a forum poster presented evidence that he may have been playing on MAME, a well-known arcade emulator, in violation of the site’s rules. Mitchell’s records were also expunged from the Guiness Book of World Records, but were restored in 2020 after “eyewitness accounts, expert gameplay analysis, and hardware verification.”
According to Twin Galaxies, the scores were restored after Dr. Michael Zyda, an engineering expert working on behalf of Mitchell, determined that Mitchell’s arcade hardware may have been unmodified after all. In his report, Zyda said the visual anomalies could potentially be attributed to aging hardware components and Mitchell’s submitted video tapes being “copies of copies.”
“The Nintendo Donkey Kong boards are old and their various electronic parts are aging at different rates. As those components near failure, the potential for visual artifacts increases. This means there is no way to compare different Donkey Kong boards as their component failures most likely are in different parts. This includes the power supplies that power the Donkey Kong boards,” Zyda wrote. As those power supplies age, we have no way of measuring how that aging will impact the Donkey Kong board’s operations and visual display. As such, there may not be any way to compare recordings from the same board done at different times. In my opinion component aging could produce the anomalies at issue.”
You can read Zyda’s full opinion here. In its statement, Twin Galaxies said that that it “openly and publicly takes note of Dr. Zyda’s expressed expert opinion.”
“Twin Galaxies’ mandate is to verify that submissions meet verification guidelines, not to investigate how they are produced. This latter area remains available to experts such as Dr. Zyda and other interested parties, who may examine and assess these matters for their individual purposes. Twin Galaxies takes no official stance on the creation of submitted content but can recognize and acknowledge Dr. Zyda’s expert opinion.”
Twin Galaxies has reinstated all of my world records from my videogame career. Here’s my statement: pic.twitter.com/VJUDmubll5
— Billy Mitchell (@BillyPacman) January 16, 2024
Mitchell quoted Twin Galaxies’ statement and wrote, “Today, January 16, 2024, Twin Galaxies has reinstated all of the videogame world records that I achieved in my career, effective immediately…I am relieved and satisfied to reach this resolution after an almost six year ordeal and look forward to pursuing my unfinished business elsewhere.”
Mitchell’s high score career extends back to the 1980s, where he famously achieved a perfect score in Pac-Man. He was also the first player to beat one million points in Donkey Kong back in 2005. His battle for the Donkey Kong high score championship with challenge Steve Wiebe was famously chronicled in the documentary The King of Kong: A Fistful of Quarters.
But for all his notoriety, Mitchell’s scores aren’t quite enough to top the modern Donkey Kong leaderboards. That honor goes to Robbie Lakeman, who achieved a score of 1,272,800 in 2021.
Blogroll image credit: David Greedy/Getty Images
Kat Bailey is IGN’s News Director as well as co-host of Nintendo Voice Chat. Have a tip? Send her a DM at @the_katbot.