For the second time in as many weeks, a classic video game record is being challenged. This time the controversy revolves around Billy Mitchell, the infamous Donkey Kong player who, several times across his career, topped the game's leaderboard. Faced with accusations that his records were achieved on questionable hardware, Mitchell's current defense is that he has no idea how he would even set that up.
This whole fiasco is broken down in detail over on Gamespot, who recently secured a rare interview with Mitchell. The claim is that several of Mitchell's record-breaking scores in Donkey Kong were achieved using MAME software rather than a legitimate arcade machine. As for Mitchell, he's basically pleading ignorance, but reiterates that he's giving these accusations his time and attention because competitive gaming is important to him.
I'm the least tech savvy guy in the world, so I'd be lost without the kindness of people I've never met before, calling me with information and insight. In some ways, it's a bummer. There's a lot of other fun stuff I would rather be doing [than clearing my name]. But if it's a cross I have to bear for a little while, that's okay.
Most folks know Mitchell for appearing in The King of Kong. In it, we see an up-and-coming competitive gamer, Steve Wiebe, attempting to topple Mitchell's record Donkey Kong score. It's brought up that Mitchell achieved several records in his career; several for breaking DK top scores, as well as earning the first perfect game of Pac-Man and achieving the Donkey Kong kill screen. The records in question, though, are for three specific points on the leaderboard where, according to the accusations, the way the game loads is more like what you get when you're playing a MAME, not an arcade.
Mitchell said that the reason for this has been explained to him as a situation that arises when you're recording a feed directly from the machine, which he always does. He also argues that one of the instances brought up was during an event where the machine was set up for him by Twin Galaxies (responsible for maintaining all of these classic game records), with a crowd on-hand to witness the event.
It's also noted that the main accusations are being leveled by a fellow gamer that has had a long-standing "axe to grind" with Mitchell. It's also worth noting that the accusations are for records that no longer stand. Mitchell, in fact, hasn't been the "king of Kong" for many years. In other words, this is a war being waged on principal more than anything.
At present, folks are trying to track down the original tapes from Mitchell's performances, with experts presumably being brought in to determine their validity. We'll just have to wait and see what the professionals have to say about whether or not Mitchell has been cheating. If that's the case, it could mean a huge blow to this type of record keeping in general, as well as Twin Galaxies themselves.