The King of Kong Was a Cheater After All

Enlarge  Artist's conception of Mitchell reacting to the news

He's the guy who fought a vicious campaign to prevent record-breaking newcomer Steve Wiebe from becoming the first player to score a million points in the classic arcade game - successfully, as it turned out, with record-keepers Twin Galaxies accepting Mitchell's run over Wiebe's.

Officials at the retro-gaming records website Twin Galaxies concluded a two-month investigation on Thursday into allegations that Mitchell's scores in Donkey Kong were not achieved on arcade hardware, but rather through the MAME software emulation program. This morning, Mitchell was stripped of both of those accolades, and all of his high scores have been removed from the records of competitive high-score sanctioning authority Twin Galaxies. They posted: "Based on the complete body of evidence presented in this official dispute thread, Twin Galaxies administrative staff has unanimously chose to remove all of Billy Mitchell's scores as well as ban him from participating in our competitive leaderboards".

The dispute over Mitchell's records was raised by Twin Galaxies member Jeremy Young in February, who demonstrated that it was impossible for an original, unaltered Donkey Kong machine to produce certain board transitions that were seen in Mitchell's videotaped recordings.

After years of enjoying his reign at the top of the Donkey Kong leaderboard, legendary arcade gamer Billy Mitchell has officially fallen from grace.

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Mitchell, Wiebe and Guinness did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Wiebe challenged Mitchell to a public competition, which he declined.

Almost two months ago, Mitchell's scores were also removed from the leaderboards at Donkey Kong Forum. Third-party investigators hired by Mitchell even came to the same conclusion: even if he didn't necessarily cheat, per se, Mitchell's emulator-powered runs can't be allowed in the record books.

Now, with Mitchell banned, Twin Galaxies wants to use this moment to begin rebuilding its reputation.

More specifically, it seems that Young was able to prove to Twin Galaxies' satisfaction that specific "board transition images" in the Mitchell footage simply couldn't be generated through an official arcade cabinet. "From a Twin Galaxies viewpoint, the only important thing to know is whether or not the score performances are from an unmodified original DK arcade PCB [printed circuit board] as per the competitive rules", the site administration writes. "Twin Galaxies has experienced a nice big dose of that again with this dispute".

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