One of the lowkey best documentaries of the 2000s was The King of Kong, which told the story of the bizarre world of arcade game high score world records, and the two (very odd) men who were vying for the best Donkey Kong score in the world. Despite the fact the stakes are objectively very low, the film is insanely compelling and became a bit of a cult hit.
This was in no small part because one of the men, Billy Mitchell, who was positioned as the villain of the piece – strange, self-aggrandising, vindictive and rude. If you’ve seen it, you know what I’m talking about, perhaps this brief YouTube compilation will shed some light on this profoundly odd man.
Much has changed since the mortal battle between Mitchell and Steve Wiebe – including some other contenders stepping into the ring – but that’s not what this story is about. Twin Galaxies, the organisation which vets and publishes video game world records, has deemed Billy Mitchell a cheater and stripped him of all his records. Huge, folks. Huge.
All of ’em. That means his famed Donkey Kong records, but also his ones in Pac-Man and other games.
“With this ruling, Twin Galaxies can no longer recognize Billy Mitchell as the first million point ‘Donkey Kong’ record holder,” Twin Galaxies wrote in its announcement. “According to our findings, Steve Wiebe would be the official 1st million point record holder.”
If you want a deep dive into exactly how Billy cheated, there’s a thread going on over at the Donkey Kong forum (yes, I know, it sounds awful) which lays it out in detail. To put it simply, some uber-nerds proved using arcane nerd science that Mitchell wasn’t actually setting his records on a proper Donkey Kong arcade cabinet, as the rules require. He was actually setting them using computer software which emulates classic arcade cabinets, which is strictly forbidden.
The mere fact that he was using an emulator doesn’t necessarily mean that he cheated. But it means that he very much could have – meaning his scores cannot be considered valid.
Twin Galaxies announced in their statement that they have passed their findings on to Guinness World Records:
Based on the complete body of evidence presented in this official dispute thread, Twin Galaxies administrative staff has unanimously decided to remove all of Billy Mitchell’s’ scores as well as ban him from participating in our competitive leaderboards. We have notified Guinness World Records of our decision.
You can read their hilariously po-faced statement in its entirety here.
RIP Billy Mitchell and his scores. Too beautiful for this wretched earth.Image: Getty Images