If you’re a longtime gamer, you may remember the 2007 documentary ‘The King of Kong: A Fistful of Quarters’. The acclaimed documentary chronicled two players (Steve Weibe and Billy Mitchell) as they raced to achieve the first officially recognized million points high score in ‘Donkey Kong’. Ultimately, Mitchell emerged triumphant, reaching a score of 1,047,200 (Weibe would eventually claim a high score of 1,049,100, but Mitchell got there first). At the time, that seemed to be the end of the story, but a decade later, it turns out there was more to it.
After fans noticed irregularities in the video Mitchell used for his high score submission, Twin Galaxies (the world’s largest tracker of high scores and other video game records) opened an investigation into the matter. And now, the results are in: Mitchell cheated. You may be wondering how, exactly. After all, if you’ve ever played a classic arcade game, you’d know they’re not exactly the easiest things to tamper with, and any in-game exploits would stick out like a sore thumb on the video. And that’s exactly the reason (one of them, anyway) that Twin Galaxies will only officially recognize scores that were achieved using the original hardware.
That’s where Mitchell ran afoul. Back in February, Twin Galaxies launched an investigation into Mitchell’s high score submission in association with a number of third parties. And now all involved have reached the same conclusion: Mitchell’s submission videos were not recorded using an original ‘Donkey Kong’ cabinet. Rather, he used MAME, a popular emulator used to run arcade games on newer computer hardware. How can they be sure? Well, more detail is available in the original Twin Galaxies forum post that disputed the score (which can be found here), but in short, it has to do with the ways in which the image is generated by the original ‘Donkey Kong’ hardware and how that differs from image generation in the versions of MAME that had been widely distributed when the scores where submitted.
So what does all this mean? First and foremost, all of Mitchell’s scores have been scrubbed from Twin Galaxies records. This includes not only his ‘Donkey Kong’ scores but also records he held in ‘Donkey Kong Jr.’ and ‘Pac-Man’, among others. He has also be barred from making any future submissions to Twin Galaxies. And finally, as Twin Galaxies is involved with the Guinness World Records validation process for video game scores, Mitchell has lost his Guinness records as well.
Oh, and Steve Weibe is now officially recognized as the first ‘Donkey Kong’ player to crack a million points.
You can read Twin Galaxies’ official statement here.