Guinness World Records has reversed its 2018 decision to strip Billy Mitchell of his Pac-Man and Donkey Kong world records, according to Ars Technica, in what is the latest twist in a long story about the notorious arcade game master at the center of documentary The King of Kong: A Fistful of Quarters.
This means that, according to Guinness, Mitchell is once again the first to achieve a perfect score on Pac-Man (totaling 3,333,360 points) and the first to reach 1 million points on Donkey Kong.
The controversy around Mitchell’s records has a long history
But Guinness stands alone in recognizing Mitchell’s scores, as Twin Galaxies International Scoreboard — an organization that also audits and awards records — is sticking with its decision to not recognize them.
Mitchell set the Pac-Man score in 1999 and the Donkey Kong one in 2005. But those records faced scrutiny after people in the community discovered that Mitchell set them on video game cabinets that were running arcade emulation software MAME. Twin Galaxies initiated an investigation, and despite finding inconclusive evidence that he cheated, stripped Mitchell of the records. Guinness World Records followed suit shortly after. Mitchell ultimately sued Twin Galaxies this year for libel, and threatened to sue Guinness. The Twin Galaxies lawsuit is still ongoing.
The case against an all-time Donkey Kong great, explained (update)
Guinness World Records editor Craig Glenday said in a video released Thursday that “existing evidence and newly sourced eyewitness testimony, plus some new expert gameplay analyses and hardware verification” was reviewed before reversing the decision. “In the end, we found that there just wasn’t sufficient evidence to support the disqualification across the board,” he said.
Mitchell told Ars Technica that Guinness’ decision was “a long time coming,” and that he knew about it as far back as December, but that the announcement was delayed because the two parties were wrapping up a “legal agreement” that he could not elaborate on.
Twin Galaxies founder Walter Day also appeared in the video, saying he was “very pleased to see this happen.” The organization’s current owner and CEO, Jace Hall, only responded to Ars Technica’s request for comment with the “But That’s None of My Business” Kermit the Frog meme.