After a lengthy arbitration process, Twin Galaxies, an organization that keeps track of video game world records, has decided to remove arcade game player Billy Mitchell’s high scores, deeming the scores to have been obtained from using an arcade emulator. Billy Mitchell has also been banned from further participation on Twin Galaxies’ leaderboards.
“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.”
Back in early February, a Twin Galaxies forum user named Jeremy Young, known as ‘Xelnia’ on the forum, posted evidence that Billy Mitchell, the holder of several (now former) video game records and the subject of the 2007 documentary The King of Kong, had not achieved his high scores legitimately. It is believed that Billy used a Multiple Arcade Machine Emulator (commonly referred to as a MAME) to achieve his back-to-back high scores of 1,062,800 points in Donkey Kong and 1,270,900 points in Donkey Kong Jr. on July 31, 2010.
One of the key pieces of evidence in Xelnia’s case was the level transitions in Donkey Kong. In the arcade machine version of Donkey Kong, the levels are loaded from one side of the screen to the other, while a MAME version loads parts of the levels in large chunks.
When it comes to earning high scores, Twin Galaxies requires the usage of a legitimate arcade cabinet and the footage must also show the player using the cab. The recording must also show that none of the cabinet’s settings were altered in a way that would give players an unfair advantage. The fact that this can easily be done with emulated gameplay is the main reason emulators are not allowed. Such unfair advantages emulator use can allow include the altering of in-game parameters, the usage of save states to undo mistakes, and altering variables not normally part of the original game’s hardware.
The overall evidence has allowed Twin Galaxies to determine at least two of Billy’s scores were achieved via emulator. The first is the ‘King of Kong’ score, 1,047,200 points in 2005. This score and the gameplay recorded on a low-quality VHS tape was a big part of The King of Kong. The second was achieved live on July 13, 2007 in Orlando, Florida.
Billy Mitchell, Twin Galaxies comissioner Dave Hawksett, and the Guinness Book of World Records have yet to comment on the news.