Billy Mitchell, famous for his fight to be the highest-scoring player of the original Donkey Kong arcade game, is having his record-setting scores reexamined by records officials after they were called into question over the weekend, Engadget reports. This news comes just over a week after Dragster record holder Todd Rogers was stripped of his Guinness Record for cheating.
Mitchell originally held a high score of 874,300 points for 18 years in Donkey Kong before being dethroned in 2000 by Tim Sczerby. He then went on to fight back and forth with players for the high score before becoming the first player to break 1,000,000 points in the game. Mitchell's time pursuing this record's made him somewhat of a celebrity in the video game world, even sparking a 2007 documentary called The King of Kong. While Mitchell hasn't held the record in Donkey Kong since 2010 – he's currently 47 on the game's leader boards – he is, as Engadget points out, "undoubtedly the most famous of the Kong kings."
But now it looks like his crown is in question.
On Twin Galaxies' Donkey Kong Forum, moderator Jeremy Young uploaded several examples of what he says is proof Mitchell's longstanding achievements aren't possible playing the the game as intended. Twin Galaxies has been logging video game leader boards since 1981, and is often called upon by the Guinness Book of World Records for its own records and accomplishment in the video game world.
According to Young, the "world record direct feed recordings presented by Billy Mitchell and verified by TG were generated in MAME and not by original Donkey Kong hardware." MAME is an open source emulator, allowing video game arcade games to be recreated, and in this case altered.
Young calls out three of Mitchell's 1,000,000-plus point games, adding while Mitchell's played the game for an audience before, there's been no "independent, impartial, objective witnesses" present for any of these records.
"Billy claimed the 1.047 [million point game] was done in front of scores of people, but that he had no access to the inside of the machine...so how did he set up the direct feed," Young writes. "The 1.05 was supposedly done at an actual convention, but Billy was conveniently playing in another room. The 1.062 was done in arcade in Florida, but the only live footage from that day was staged (the Boomer board swap) and shows no evidence of a direct feed setup. Todd Rogers, of Dragster infamy, was a supposed witness to the 1.05M and 1.062M games."
As Engadget points out, "there are strict verifications for MAME high score attempts that check that the run was, for example, human-controlled and performed in one continuous playthrough. If the allegations Young has brought to Twin Galaxies are true, then Mitchell not only didn't go through these checks, he also hid the fact that he wasn't playing on official hardware."
As of writing, Mitchell still sits on Twin Galaxies' Donkey Kong list of highest-scored games at number 12. Out of the top 20, his score is the only one currently disputed.
"Twin Galaxies is in the process of fully-reviewing the compelling evidence provided by Jeremy Young to support his current score dispute case against Bily Mitchell's Donkey Kong score," Twin Galaxies said in a statement to Engadget. "We will do this thoroughly and impartially. In the meantime we will continue to observe this discussion by experts in the community and will also examine any further evidence that may be provided during this review period."
To see the extensive list of evidence Young's provided, click here.
We've reached out to Mitchell in an effort to get his side of these accusations and will update the story should we hear back.