- Twin Galaxies restores Billy Mitchell’s Donkey Kong scores on its historical database, despite controversy.
- Testimony from Dr. Michael Zyda suggests the scores could have been legitimate and that hardware malfunctions and video quality may have caused the anomalies.
- Reinstatement only applies to the historical database, not current records, and Twin Galaxies has not confirmed if Mitchell cheated.
In yet another chapter of the controversial saga of former Donkey Kong record holder Billy Mitchell, Twin Galaxies has decided to restore his scores on its history website database. Billy Mitchell is one of the most infamous figures within the pro gamer landscape, having first risen to prominence during the arcade days of the 1980s and 1990s by setting records for such titles as the original Pac-Man and Donkey Kong. He would gain a new level of fame after re-breaking the record score for Donkey Kong multiple times during the 2000s, with his resulting rivalry with fellow gamer Steve Wiebe being chronicled in the 2007 documentary The King of Kong.
After being briefly dethroned by fellow Donkey Kong player Hank Chien, Mitchell would set a new record score once again in 2010 – though this would later be broken by Steve Wiebe a few months later. In 2018, an investigation into allegations of him using emulation software to inflate his famous scores led to Billy Mitchell being stripped of his records by Twin Galaxies, the video game database in charge of cataloging such achievements. Mitchell has fought this decision over the past several years, with the Guinness World Records eventually reinstating his Donkey Kong records in 2020.
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Despite this development, Twin Galaxies has maintained its own removal of Billy Mitchell’s controversial Donkey Kong scores – until now. In a statement posted to the official Twin Galaxies website earlier this week, it was announced that Mitchell’s scores will be reinstated, at least on Twin Galaxies’ old historical database of past achievements. This decision came after Twin Galaxies received testimony from Dr. Michael Zyda, an Emeritus Professor of engineering practice whom Mitchell enlisted to help in his six-year legal battle, questioning the accusations that led to his removal last November.
In Zyda’s two-page opinion, he claimed that he couldn’t verify if Billy Mitchell had indeed used emulation to falsify his Donkey Kong scores, but that the scores in question could very well be produced on unmodified arcade cabinet hardware – and that the “anomalies” that led to Mitchell’s ban could be the result of malfunctioning hardware and the quality of the videotapes that some of the scores were originally documented on. In response to Zyda’s opinion, Twin Galaxies decided to reinstate Mitchell’s scores to the historical database, stating that its mission is to “verify that submissions meet verification guidelines, not to investigate how they are produced.”
Billy Mitchell was always a somewhat divisive figure, especially following his portrayal in The King of Kong which painted him as an antagonist to Steve Wiebe. Twin Galaxies’ recent decision to reinstate his old Donkey Kong scores after six years of controversy will likely compound this, though it is worth pointing out that Mitchell’s scores are only restored on Twin Galaxies’ historical database and not the current records, and Twin Galaxies has not verified whether Mitchell actually cheated in the first place.