King of Kong Star Billy Mitchell Accused of Lying About World-Record Donkey Kong Runs

King of Kong Star Billy Mitchell Accused of Lying About World-Record Donkey Kong Runs

An analysis of Billy Mitchell's Donkey Kong runs reveal some irregularities.

Billy Mitchell, famous for being really good at Donkey Kong and selling hot sauce, might now only really be famous for selling hot sauce. A Donkey Kong fansite has removed three of Mitchell's highest scores after determining that Mitchell was not honest about how he achieved his world record arcade runs.

Mitchell, who gained prominence after appearing the documentary film King of Kong: A Fistful of Quarters where he mainly was portrayed as kind of a jerk, is now accused by members of the Donkey Kong Twin Galaxies community as deceiving the community at best, and cheating at the very worst.

Donkey Kong high-score judge Jeremy "Xelnia" Young made the announcement of Mitchell's three record nullifications in a post after presenting what they believe to be is evidence of deception from Mitchell.

Young wrote in their post announcing the news, "I don't know Billy personally. We've never met and the only time we've been in the same place was [Kong Off 3]. I'm well aware of his importance in gaming history and culture and especially to the arcade and DKF community. I understand this will not be a popular decision. It is not my wish to fracture a community of affect anyone's personal life." However Young states, "But ultimately, I have to do what I think is right."

Young's evidence boils down to the use of MAME, or Multiple Arcade Machine Emulator. Mitchell maintains that his records were achieved by playing on the original arcade cabinets. However, as Young explains, the use of MAME comes with their own problems.

Basically, Young discovered that Mitchell used MAME based on how the emulator and original arcade hardware renders the game. MAME renders the game in chunks, whereas the arcade hardware renders the game from left-to-right, or like "vertical window blinds" according to Young.

Here are three different gifs, showcasing how each of the versions of Donkey Kong Render. In the gif below is a Donkey Kong game running on MAME 0.122-0.126 you can see the render happens in full chunks. This is a gif of the game that's been slowed down to one frame per second.

Donkey Kong render on MAME at 1fps

Below here is what a direct-feed Arcade version of Donkey Kong looks like when it renders at one frame per second. You can see the it happen in vertical halves of the screen.

Donkey Kong render captured directly on arcade at 1fps

And here is Billy Mitchell's world record 1.05 million point game, which renders in chunks, similar to the MAME version.

Billy Mitchell Donkey Kong render

But emulators like MAME are accepted in record run considerations. However, they require an official point-keeping witness, something Young claims Mitchell doesn't have in any of his world record runs.

"While many people have seen Billy play in public, there are no known independent, impartial, objective witnesses to any of the The Big 3 WR games. He has never scored over 1,000,000 in a live venue. Billy claimed the 1.047M was done in front of scores of people, but that he had no access to the inside of the machine...so how did he set up the direct feed? The 1.05 was supposedly done at an actual convention, but Billy was conveniently playing in another room. The 1.062 was done in arcade in Florida, but the only live footage from that day was staged (the Boomer board swap) and shows no evidence of a direct feed setup. Todd Rogers, of Dragster infamy, was a supposed witness to the 1.05M and 1.062M games."

Rogers, it should be noted, was embroiled in his own cheating scandal after it was revealed that his record 5.51 second run in Dragster is technically impossible.

What's more, MAME has a built in recording ability that lets players rewind, correcting any previous mistakes they might have made. They can then edit the recording together into a single recording that could look as if the player made a perfect run.

Young told VentureBeat that, "At the very least [Mitchell] misrepresented a MAME performance as an arcade performance. It's possible to achieve a good score in one attempt and it's probably impossible to prove how his MAME score was achieved. At minimum: deception. But most likely: cheating." Young also says that there are certain crowds that dislike MAME, or say that MAME scores don't count, including Billy MItchell. "So even if it was a legitimate MAME performance, it would undermine everything he has ever said about public performances and MAME itself," concluded Young.

While Mitchell's highest recorded score has been beaten since he last played, this is a serious blow to the former King of Kong. How he responds to these accusations remain unknown, but we've reached out to Mitchell for comment.

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Matt Kim

News Editor

Matt Kim is a former freelance writer who's covered video games and digital media. He likes video games as spectacle and is easily distracted by bright lights or clever bits of dialogue. He also once wrote about personal finance, but that's neither here nor there.

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