Donkey Kong ace Billy Mitchell's world records reinstated by Guinness

The King of Kong star was stripped of his world record arcade scores in 2018. Now, after an investigation, he's getting them back.

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Billy Mitchell is back in the record books for high scores in Donkey Kong and Pac-Man.

Screenshot by Ry Crist/CNET

Two years after being stripped of his world record high scores for Donkey Kong and Pac-Man, King of Kong star Billy Mitchell is getting them back, Guinness World Records announced Thursday.

The decision followed a review of both the existing evidence and newly sourced eyewitness testimony, as well as "some new expert gameplay analyses and hardware verification," said Guinness World Records Editor-in-Chief Craig Glenday.

"In the end, we found that there just wasn't sufficient evidence to support the disqualification across the board," Glenday said. "In cases such as this where there is debate, we would typically defer to the original contemporaneous adjudication, and this is the case here. The result is that the records management team has decided to reverse the decisions made and reinstate all of Mr. Mitchell's records for Pac-Man and Donkey Kong."

"Unfortunately, in 2018, I became the subject of false allegations," Mitchell said in a video response to the decision, "and I just shook my head as to how this could happen. And I didn't shake my head long. My support system simply wouldn't let me."

The controversy over Mitchell's scores began in February of 2018, when a member of the Twin Galaxies competitive gaming community filed a dispute against him alleging that he hadn't used an arcade cabinet, as required by Twin Galaxies' rules for high score submissions. Then, after "months of research," the Twin Galaxies board voted unanimously to remove all of Billy Mitchell's scores from their leaderboards. 

Twin Galaxies passed their findings onto Guinness and, that April, Guinness followed suit, stripping Mitchell of his world records for Donkey Kong and Pac-Man. Today, those records were reinstated, though Mitchell remains unlisted on the Twin Galaxies leaderboards for the time being.

Twin Galaxies founder Walter Day said he provided testimony for the Guinness researchers, and he voiced his support for today's decision.

"I'm very pleased to see this happen," Day said, "and I had faith that it would come out this way because all of those people who were part of the old days, who played the old games, and saw Billy Mitchell play, they knew that he was completely capable of getting these records."

As for Mitchell, he says that he's looking forward to getting back to his role as an ambassador for old-school gaming -- and he doesn't rule out the idea of working to set new records.

"Do I want future world records?" Mitchell muses during his video response, "I guess it's too difficult to say no to that, so I guess maybe I do."