Billy Mitchell was once called “gamer of the century” for achieving a perfect score on Pac-Man, and for his world record runs on Donkey Kong and other games. In the 2007 documentary, The King of Kong: A Fistful of Quarters, Mitchell was seemingly the perfect antagonist for Steve Wiebe, a Donkey Kong player whose skills rivaled his own. At a critical moment depicted in the film, Mitchell submitted a video tape of his new Donkey Kong high score that surpassed Wiebe’s run. Now, Mitchell's tapes may have led to his downfall.
Via Polygon, Twin Galaxies has thrown out all of Mitchell’s Donkey Kong scores and banned him from competition. The issue at hand was whether Mitchell used an unaltered Donkey Kong motherboard or a MAME emulator for his high scores. Twin Galaxies only accepts scores from the original games, and the tape was challenged by Jeremy Young of Donkey Kong Forum. Young and others provided evidence that Mitchell’s run came from an emulator by breaking down the way the graphics appeared on screen.
The implication of the report is that Mitchell could have used the MAME emulator to game the odds in his favor, or recorded multiple attempts from different saves to achieve the maximum high score. Donkey Kong Forum threw out Mitchell’s high scores early in February. Now, Mitchell’s records have been wiped away from all of the official leaderboards.
Mitchell’s high scores had also been recognized by Guinness World Records, but the results of Twin Galaxies’ investigation has now invalidated those standings as well. According to Variety, Mitchell's Pac-Man and Donkey Kong records will no longer stand with the organization. Since Twin Galaxies is Guinness World Records' official source for verification, their decision to invalidate Mitchell's scores carries over - meaning that new record-holders for the two games will be announced in the coming days as Mitchell falls from the record boards and from grace.
It’s a stunning end for a competitive player who emerged in the ‘80s as one of the best arcade gamers. Mitchell had also been a regular on the retro gaming convention circuit. It’s unclear where Mitchell will go from here. But if there’s ever a sequel to The King of Kong, now we know how it will end.
Image credit: David Greedy/Getty Images
This story was originally on published on Thursday and was updated on Friday.