back to article Donkey Wrong: Arcade legend Billy Mitchell booted from record books amid MAME row

Legendary video arcade games player Billy Mitchell will be wiped from the gaming industry's official list of record high scores. List maintainers Twin Galaxies announced on Thursday they will remove all of Mitchell's high scores from their books, including his once-world-beating three million-point Donkey Kong scores, and will …

  1. Youngone Silver badge


    I can't remember ever getting past level 3 of Donkey Kong and I put a lot of money into it.

    That probably says something about my game playing ability more than anything though.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Hard

      I was pretty good, way back when I scored 211K on my first man, then lost all but one on the sixth (I think?) elevators. Got a little further and ended up with 233K I believe. Not a million but I suppose enough to claim the $200 or so I must have put into it was not a complete waste :)

      1. The Oncoming Scorn Silver badge

        Re: Hard

        I find that these days with Mame & the benefit of working in IT for the last 20 or so years (+13 or so in electronics & that was 4 odd years after these coin-ops first came out), that I can see the patterns of behaviour (OK & flip virtual DIP switches for extra lives - Which actually don't help as much as you might think) that I couldn't see after several pints of Hemeling (48p a pint in 1980) in The Seven Stars as a 17 year old.

        Also easier on my pocket too as back then every pint got me enough change to feed the damn things in turn with my other 4 underage drinking buds crowded around playing Moon Cresta, Donkey Kong, Frogger etc....

        1. jeffdyer

          Re: Hard

          Hemeling was low alcohol lager, wasn't it?

          1. GruntyMcPugh

            Re: Hard

            That would be 'Hemeling Lite'? I recall 'Kaliber' being amongst, if not the first low alcohol beer, and that was mid eighties,.... in 1980 if you'd asked for a low alcohol beer you'd have been laughed at, and handed a glass of water.

            1. Secta_Protecta

              Re: Hard

              IIRC Kaliber was advertised by a certain Mr Billy Connolly. Didn't help the fact that it literally tasted like urine though...

              1. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward

                Re: Kaliber

                Non alcoholic lager has come on a very long way in three decades. Kaliber definitely had a urine taste.

                Cobra Zero is probably my favourite. Becks Blue isn't bad, but smells like weed. SWIM finds that quite useful when people ask "hey, can I smell weed?"

                Anyone got any recommendations? How about beer as opposed to lager?

                1. Ralph B

                  Re: Kaliber

                  Just wondering how you guys know what urine tastes like ... ?

                  1. bombastic bob Silver badge

                    Re: Kaliber

                    "Just wondering how you guys know what urine tastes like"

                    probably had something to do with 1) a diaper changing accident, 2) a dare while intoxicated, 3) a night with Hurricane Hessie (those tropical rains) [I can't screw in this kind of weather] 4) a combination of an overfull bladder and a morning stiffy that won't go away in time 5) survival training [they say that drinking your own pee is 'a way' to survive severe dehydration, possibly extending your own life for a few days]

                    OK is this getting way too graphic now?

                2. GruntyMcPugh

                  Re: Kaliber

                  @AC Becks regular smells of weed, when you first pop it, so I guess it's right.

                  I quite like the 'Bavaria' low alcohol beer, slight preference to Becks. Haven't tried Cobra zero, and won't be tonight, my other half is out, so it's sci-fi, pizza, and real beer for me. : -)

                  1. Anonymous Coward
                    Anonymous Coward

                    Re: Kaliber

                    I'm the original AC, and yes, I'd forgotten about Bavaria, you are right.

            2. paul-m-w72

              Re: Hard

              Kaliber............ oh god no i would rather drink diarrhoea

  2. Stevie


    Check his glasses for cheat codes.

    1. diodesign (Written by Reg staff) Silver badge

      Re: Bah!

      Good lord, is that a Pixels reference?


      1. Little Mouse

        Re: Bah!

        or maybe EastEnders...


  3. Zwuramunga

    All three of his fans will be pissed at this ruling.

  4. Hi Wreck

    I look forward to watching the do-over on twitch

    Not. If I wanted to watch grass grow, I would rather watch golf.

  5. The Nazz

    Faster code can be an advantage? Hmmmm.

    Like hell it can, i could have done with the speed dialled right down.

    Give you chance to get the bat in place on the original Pong. Then Breakout. Those swooping multiples of "eagles (whatever)" on Galaxians.

    Warp speed on asteroids ( good game for when they turned down the lights in the pub for when such as Chubby Brown did his act on a 3ft by 2ft stage, flogging his home made tapes for £1 each).

    Beer at 18p a pint. Those WERE the days.

    1. The Oncoming Scorn Silver badge

      Re: Faster code can be an advantage? Hmmmm.

      Beer at 18p a pint.........?????????????????

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Faster code can be an advantage? Hmmmm.

        I remember 50p a pint, this is why I feel sorry for millennials. aye, when I were a lad you could go out on a fiver and still have t'money for a chippy ont way home.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Faster code can be an advantage? Hmmmm.

          True but you only earned 13 quid a week on the YTS.

      2. The Nazz

        Re: Faster code can be an advantage? Hmmmm.

        Yep. Theakstones at that.

        Admittedly in the Student Union building together with a superb cafeteria.

        Happy, and much more simple, days.

  6. bombastic bob Silver badge

    get a life?

    it's the first thing that entered my mind

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: get a life?

      And the first thing on mine is you spent time reading the article, then typing a trolling response.

      Nothing better to do?

      (In my own defence I'm on a conference call right now so I'm multitasking).

      1. bombastic bob Silver badge

        Re: get a life?

        "Nothing better to do?"

        Touche! [I love it when people REALLY get the humor!]

        I'm surprised about the downvotes, though...

    2. Charles 9

      Re: get a life?

      Scott Pilgrim ran with that. He grabbed a 1-Up Mushroom in reply.

  7. Lee D Silver badge

    Sorry, if you DO want to do this, you need to do this live and on boards that independent people have verified or (better) supplied, in a public venue.

    It's like saying I scored a billion at keepie-uppies. It means nothing if it can't be verified, and some old VHS of the screen alone isn't enough.


    What is it with YouTube videos narrated by a monotonic, nasal, young American male?

    Is this really the broadcast voice of this century?

    1. Simon Harris

      Any scores should be invalid unless you have the detention chit for bunking off school to play the arcades.

    2. Gordon 10

      It begs the question as to which moron thought a self recorded sessions was good enough evidence in the the first place.

      You wouldn't have caught Norris and Roy making such school boy errors.

      1. noboard

        Friends with benefits

        "It begs the question as to which moron thought a self recorded sessions was good enough evidence in the the first place."

        According to a video I watched last night, the guy running Twin Galaxies at the time was a friend of Billy Mitchell. In the VHS, they show them swapping out the Donkey Kong board for a Donkey Kong Jnr board and he set another record on that. The amusing thing is, the board they take out is Donkey Kong Jnr and they replace it with Donkey Kong Jnr, so you didn't have to look very hard for evidence.

        I now have to watch King of Kong again.

    3. AZump

      No, that is Dr. Sbaitso. The voice of the early 1990's.

    4. AZump

      That is Dr. Sbaitso. The voice of the early 1990's.

  8. Mayday

    Original Hardware?

    I understand the rationale, but where can you find an abundance of original 80s era arcade hardware that is still working?

    I've seen "modern" data centre equipment shit itself after a power cycle when all the capacitors in power supplies etc have dried out.

    1. DNTP

      Re: Original Hardware?


      And then you beg one of the Nerd Rules nerds for whatever is their version of a parity check.

    2. The Oncoming Scorn Silver badge

      Re: Original Hardware?

      The boards could probably be copied quite easily (etched onto a single clad board) some of the older chips might be difficult to source though.

    3. defiler

      Re: Original Hardware?

      where can you find an abundance of original 80s era arcade hardware that is still working?

      Funland, apparently. That's where Twin Galaxies demanded that Steve Weibe set his score, but for some reason Billy Mitchell was allowed to chuck in a videotape.

      Besides, if you're in the caibre where you're setting a world record, I expect you can find somebody to replace the caps on an old board. Not sure whether that would be acceptable, but Twin Galaxies should surely be able to have a trusted third party to deal with it. Just for when Funland's machine goes pop.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Twin Galaxies itself is fundamentally untrustworthy

        @defiler; "That's where Twin Galaxies demanded that Steve Weibe set his score, but for some reason Billy Mitchell was allowed to chuck in a videotape."

        That's merely the tip of the iceberg when it comes to their double standards. If anything, the irony is that someone reading this story in isolation would *still* come away with a better impression of Twin Galaxies than they deserve- that they were merely caught out by an elaborate cheat.

        Whereas the infamous "Todd Rogers" case (and just as much their response to it) fundamentally undermined any trustworthiness in the organisation- and entire database- itself.

        Not just because a single one-time employee could abuse the system- supported by his chumminess with fellow employees- to enter numerous unchecked records under his own name going back decades.

        But also because, even *after* he'd left the company and the evidence of his cheating became overwhelming in recent years, the "old guard" in charge closed ranks and initially resisted doing anything about it, fudged- rather than completely removing- results that were demonstrably impossible, eventually removed just one or two of the most blatantly lying results and *only* finally removed his scores completely earlier this year.

        In short, they were *still* more interested in preserving the reputation of Twin Galaxies after decades of dubious record-keeping and practices that make their older scores impossible to verify and them impossible to trust.

        It's surprising that *anyone* (least of all Guinness World Records) still took Twin Galaxies seriously as the accepted authority on videogame scores after this.

        For more details see this video or this partial summary. However, the interesting points are that...

        - At least two of Rogers' times have been proven impossible by forensic analysis of the games themselves.

        - Many scores were impossible (e.g. not multiples of minimum increment, etc.)

        - Many of his "records" were literally orders of magnitude(!) better than the second place scores, or anything anyone else had managed

        - He was a referee himself and adding/verifying his own scores

        - Todd's friend also verified some of his "records"

        - Dubiousness that videotape evidence supposedly still held by the police (as part of an otherwise unrelated case involving the now-jailed friend) ever actually existed.

        - Even after his record for "Barnstorming" was shown to be impossible, it was kept with the excuse that there had been a coffee stain on the document, and the record "adjusted" to be "maybe possible" by adding half a second to the time! (Bear in mind that Rogers himself wasn't even the one that made that decision).

    4. Mr Dogshit

      Re: Original Hardware?

      I understand the rationale, but where can you find an abundance of original 80s era arcade hardware that is still working?

      There are loads of these still working, they were made in great numbers. Rarer over here in Europe, but plenty in the US.

    5. bob42

      Re: Original Hardware?

      Are yes, but they had proper nasty chemicals in components back then, so they lasted longer the the warranty plus two days

    6. Lee D Silver badge

      Re: Original Hardware?

      You just have to hope you can cobble together enough. Like old cars, some boards will survive and some will be junk fit only for certain spare parts. Given that arcade cabinets generally sold in only a thousand or so units, and they cost £1000 each at the time, it can easily be true that no working cabinets exist for lots of things except the most popular of games, and the ones that do have had a hard life. There are entire markets for it, but they tend to be global and, hence, expensive for rare items. But Pac-man, Donkey Kong, anything you've heard of, you probably just need to drop a few grand to the right people and they'll have dozens of them.

      To be honest, I wouldn't bother to try though. Another 10 years and even if you look after it, the situation will only get worse. There's a reason that people just buy any cabinet, rip out the innards, replace the screen and stick either a generic PC or a bunch of JAMMA adaptors for modern hardware into it.

      The ZX Spectrum, for example, is not easy to get a fully working memory set nowadays. The chips fail and there's no direct plug-in replacement for them (but, obviously you can wire in a daughterboard quite easily). And the ULA was basically custom-made so it's replacement-only territory - either from other working models or a complete modern custom replacement.

      I would like to build a MAME cabinet one day, and then I'll buy some old boards for the games I actually want to play on it (for licensing, because I'm honest like that), but getting those boards to actually work again if you have limited electronics knowledge? No chance.

      But a RPi 3, RetroPie and a £25 arcade joystick set off Amazon? That'll fit in a home-built cab nicely with tons of room to spare.

      1. Mr Dogshit

        Re: Original Hardware?

        But a RPi 3, RetroPie and a £25 arcade joystick set off Amazon? That'll fit in a home-built cab nicely with tons of room to spare.

        Well of course, Freddy, but that's not the point.

        If you stick a TFT panel in, that's not the same as a CRT - you don't get scanlines or the blurring which gave the original game its charm. (Yeah, I know there's software that mimic it, yadda yadda...)

        Any emulation is just that - there's often no way to reliably emulate a custom chip designed decades ago for which there is no documentation.

        Original is original.

        There's a reason that people just buy any cabinet, rip out the innards, replace the screen and stick either a generic PC or a bunch of JAMMA adaptors for modern hardware into it.

        Yeah, the reason is they're lazy, pig ignorant morons who want a quick fix. And when you say "modern hardware", in practice that means some Chinese board with MAME on.

        1. Lee D Silver badge

          Re: Original Hardware?

          The original boards are dying.

          There is no modern equivalent chip for most things.

          It's hard to even READ the old memory chips, let alone have them work in a game.

          CRTs are hard to buy.

          Anything to do with preserving an arcade machine in its original state is difficult, very technical, expensive, and ultimately will be useless as they will become harder and harder to get as time goes by.

          I'm not saying "don't do it", but be aware. And most people honestly don't have the time, money or resources to pull it off. It's £1000 for a basic cab with a working board in it, before you even start. A CRT can cost you an absolute fortune and very soon won't even be made any more. With suicide-chips and dying memory etc. it can be difficult to even get an old board working. And even making a cabinet that could house an old machine would still cost hundreds.

          It's a niche, specialist, collector sport that most people will have absolutely no interest in. I'd love to re-live the 80's. I sit there reading disassemblies of 80's Spectrum games. I can program in the Z80 assembly language. I love the nostalgia. But there's no way that I could justify maintaining an old arcade board against replacing the innards. I'd keep them. Of course, I would. But I wouldn't even try down the path of getting them working if they didn't turn on.

          It's not lazy and pig ignorant to understand all that technology and, given unlimited funds and time, being able to covet it and restore it. But that's not what even the geekiest of geeks can manage, afford or dedicate themselves to. There's a reason MAME exists. It's to preserve the originals as best we can before they all die. Because they will all die. And it's not even going to be possible to get hold of one in another 20-30 years, because arcades are very different places now (and I can't see the kids now wanting to get one of those modern ticket-spewing things working in 30-years time for their nostalgia).

          But I can get Pac Man working on something that looks and feels like an old arcade, which everyone will enjoy playing on and my daughter could get a feel of how it used to be. It would take all my spare time to build such a cabinet from parts and get it all working. That's not lazy or pig-ignorant. It's just reality.

          I have three ZX Spectrums upstairs that I have 1) kept from the 80's, 2) repaired from a boot sale job, 3) sent off for specialist restoration and RAM/ULA replacement. Guess what? None of them work anymore, even though they all did at some point. But Spectaculator? It plays all the games I remember, how I remember, on a big-screen TV for people to enjoy.

    7. C T Dragon

      Re: Original Hardware?

      Where can you find an abundance of 80s era arcade hardware?

  9. ukgnome

    This Billy Chap

    What an giant gorillas ass!

  10. Anonymous South African Coward Bronze badge

    Bah, I challenge you to try Sinistar.

    1. ThomH

      That would make me run like a coward.

      1. This post has been deleted by its author

  11. Aristotles slow and dimwitted horse

    Donkey Kong...

    Completed it mate. Yeah, no, cool... two million points on Legendary mode. Got some likes on Facetube.

    Keep it dense, yeah?

    1. Loyal Commenter Silver badge

      Re: Donkey Kong...

      +1 for the Nathan Barley reference

    2. defiler

      Re: Donkey Kong...

      Wow - that's, like, totally Mexico!

  12. Tom Servo

    All is right with the world.

    As an avid King of Kong fan this is fantastic news - Steve Wiebe restored to his rightful place in history.

    1. Prst. V.Jeltz Silver badge

      Re: All is right with the world.

      exactly , this is the ending that documentary needed!


      1. defiler

        Re: All is right with the world.

        this is the ending that documentary needed!

        Quick! Crowdfund the Director's Cut!

        To Indiegogo!!

  13. Geekpride

    Donkey Kong scores are serious! We don't want any monkey business!

  14. Charles 9

    I can understand why unofficial emulators are banned, but what about OFFICIAL ones? Nintendo makes a multi-game cab which includes Donkey Kong. Where do machines like that count?

    1. Swarthy

      They don't

      Per TFA, the requirement is an Original board, not Official. It further explains, in TFA, that even differing generations of the boards can have impacts on high scores. I wouldn't have been at all surprised if the high score submission required a Serial Number of the cabinet, or the revision number of the game board.

      1. Charles 9

        Re: They don't

        I still wouldn't think it would disqualify a score if it came from a revised but still legal machine. Perhaps classify it differently, yes (say, list high scores by game revision), but not disqualify it. It would definitely make sense if official boards (which would still be original in contrast to say a modified or bootlegged board) had revisions during its working life or were re-published at a later date (such as the Ms. Pac-Man/Galaga anniversary combo machine, which BTW had no less than six versions released). And you can't say the earliest version is the authoritative one since earlier versions may have been replaced due to bugs.

  15. Crisp

    Looks like they've got him over a barrel for monkeying with his scores.

    I'll go...

  16. Tom Melly

    Give me Strider or give me death.

    1. Anonymous South African Coward Bronze badge

      Longshanks' on his way with a certain Mr Gollum.

    2. Charles 9

      I'm of a mixed mood about Strider Hiryu. Looks great, but rather short as well.

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