It’s been a great week for Billy Mitchell. His records still stand! If the name isn’t familiar, he’s an American gamer famous (or infamous) for his arcade “skills”. There is a documentary, The King of Kongs: A Fistful of Quarters, about his attempts to keep his Donkey Kong record.
It was released in 2007, and Mitchell claims he received harassment and hate mail because of it. David Ramsey, writing for the Oxford American, says Mitchell is “probably the greatest arcade video game player of all time”. However, he accuses the film of making him look like a bad person.
There are two disputes that involve Billy Mitchell. One is a purported perfect score of 3,333,360 on the original Pac-Man. In 1999, Billy Mitchell reached that perfect score, at level 256 where half the screen fills with nonsense. There appeared to be those who had already achieved it in the 1980’s, but at least one of those couldn’t be possible due to its score.
On July 1st, a Canadian set the record at only 90 points below perfect. Two days later, Billy Mitchell beat it. There was little “corroborating evidence”, but is still named the record holder.
With Donkey Kong, the story is more complicated. In 2004, Mitchell got the record for the game with 933,900 points in front of witnesses. Another player beat his record, which Mitchell managed to top only hours later with 1,047,200 points. However, there were complaints and his score was rescinded due to being on tape, and not live.
Both records were taken away by Twin Galaxies and Guinness Book of World Records, but Guinness has now returned them. Accusations of Mitchell using an emulator (MAME) were investigated. Guinness, in June 2020, decided “that it could not find conclusive proof that Mitchell…used any improper methods to achieve his high scores”. Twin Galaxies, on the other hand, have not given the records back to Mitchell.
Guinness said that tapes provided by Mitchell from the filming of King of Kongs: A Fistful of Quarters were integral to their decision. As of this moment, there is an ongoing lawsuit between Billy Mitchell and Twin Galaxies, where the company is accused of defamation. Whether Twin Galaxies will allow the records to stand is unknown.
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