The name Billy Mitchell is likely familiar to the subset of gamers interested in classic arcade games or those who high score world records. For a number of years now, Mitchell has held the record for the highest scores in Donkey Kong, Pac-Man, and Donkey Kong Jr, earning him the nickname “King of Kong,” also the title of a 2007 documentary about his feats. Sadly, he has been stripped of all his high score titles, and in turn his Guinness World Records, after an investigation determined his scores weren’t genuine.
Twin Galaxies, a highly regarded organization that tracks and maintains records of video game high scores, conducted a lengthy investigation into Mitchell’s long-standing scores after questions arose about the authenticity of the hardware he played on. Specifically, it was determined that his Donkey Kong score was achieved using the Multiple Arcade Machine Emulator (MAME), as opposed to an authentic arcade machine as claimed, which is against Twin Galaxies’ rules.
Part of Twin Galaxies’ verification process for high score records involves video proof of the game being played on a genuine arcade cabinet. In the case of Mitchell’s Donkey Kong footage, analysis revealed that the way the game handled board transitions wasn’t possible on unmodified, original hardware.
Twin Galaxies’ decision means it has removed Mitchell’s records, which included the first perfect score in Pac-Man, set in 1999, and the first to reach a Donkey Kong score of over one million points, and disqualified him from any future leaderboard records. As Guinness World Records relied on Twin Galaxies for verification of Mitchell’s Donkey Kong and Pac-Man scores, he will be stripped of those titles as well.
Guinness made the following statement about its decision to Kotaku, noting that it would begin searching for the rightful record holders.
“The Guinness World Records titles relating to Mr. Mitchell’s highest scores on Donkey Kong have all been disqualified due to Twin Galaxies being our source of verification for these achievements. We also recognize records for First perfect score on Pac-Man and Highest score on Pac-Man. Twin Galaxies was the original source of verification for these record titles and in line with their decision to remove all of Mr. Mitchell’s records from their system, we have disqualified Mr. Mitchell as the holder of these two records. Guinness World Records will look to update and find the appropriate holder of these records in the next few days.”