Editor's note: A previous version of this story ran under the headline "Twin Galaxies Restores Billy Mitchell's Donkey Kong Scores To 'Historical Database'". Following feedback from our readers, we have changed the headline to more accurately reflect the facts, and apologise for any confusion caused by the original headline.
Update [Tue 16th Jan, 2024 17:50 GMT]: Billy Mitchell has issued a press release claiming that Twin Galaxies has reinstated his disputed Donkey Kong scores, but, in fact, said scores have only been restored as part of an "official historical database."
Twin Galaxies has issued the following statement on the matter:
In fair consideration of the expert opinion provided by Dr. Zyda on behalf of Mr. Mitchell, and consistent with Twin Galaxies' dedication to the meticulous documentation and preservation of video game score history, Twin Galaxies shall heretofore reinstate all of Mr. Mitchell’s scores as part of the official historical database on Twin Galaxies’ website.
Billy Mitchell’s Donkey Kong score performances of 1,047,200 (the 'King of Kong' Score), 1,050,200 (the 'Mortgage Brokers' score) and 1,062,800 (the 'Boomers' Score) are the scores which have been reinstated to the site's historical archive. The live leaderboards remain unchanged.
According to the press release, Twin Galaxies' countersuit claimed damages that "conveniently equalled Billy Mitchell's world record videogame scores," with its general damages claim being for $3,333,360, (Mitchell's 1999 perfect Pac-Man world record) and special damages being $3,160,200 (Mitchell's three one-million-point Donkey Kong world records). "I don’t think that any reasonable person believes Twin Galaxies’ damages claims," said Walter Day's lawyer, Robert W. Cohen. "It is a strong indicator of how frivolous its entire countersuit was."
In a press release published by Mitchell's PR firm, the King of Kong star said:
It took more than four years and an abundance of indisputable facts, eyewitnesses, and expert testimony to prove all of my records were legitimate. I am satisfied with the resolution of this matter and the reinstatement of my scores. I look forward to opening the next chapter of my gaming career. We have a few announcements coming, and I look forward to sharing my newest projects later this year.
I want to thank my family, friends, and legal counsel for supporting me through this process. I look forward to the next chapter of my career.
Despite Mitchell's attempt to frame this as a win, nothing much has actually changed.
As noted by Karl Jobst – who has done some fascinating videos on this very topic – Twin Galaxies has simply created an 'archived' version of its scoreboards, taken from before the 2014 sale. These archived leaderboards include disputed scores, including Mitchell's.
Mitchell's scores are not present on Twin Galaxies' current, live leaderboard for Donkey Kong, which you can view here. Mitchell is also still banned from submitting new scores.
Twin Galaxies has posted the following to avoid there being any doubt:
In case there is confusion:
1. Is Billy still banned from Twin Galaxies competition?
2. Are Billy's world records going back onto the main leaderboards?
3. Has the opinion of Twin Galaxies changed regarding Billy's Donkey Kong scores?
Twin Galaxies has no problem acknowledging that there is an expert out there that has a different opinion than the one Twin Galaxies has. We very much believe that it is important that people are aware of all the information so they can make their own judgements. If people have questions about what that expert has to say, then they can inquire with that person.
On the Twin Galaxies side of things, nothing has changed - except that we are excited to have the old historic database publicly available so people can see what used to be. Thats something that TG should always have as part of history.
Original Story [Mon 15th Jan, 2024 09:30 GMT]: If you love classic gaming, you'll know who Billy Mitchell is. A poster child for high-score chasers in the '80s, Mitchell is famous not only for his feats on games like Donkey Kong and Pac-Man, but for his villain-like turn in the 2007 documentary film The King of Kong.
More recently, Mitchell's fame is derived from the legal tussle he started with the high-score website Twin Galaxies, which stripped him of his scores in 2018 and barred him from ever submitting others following accusations that he achieved some of them on modified arcade hardware.
While fellow record-keeper Guinness would reinstate Mitchell's Pac-Man and Donkey Kong achievements in 2020, he had already opened legal proceedings against Twin Galaxies by that point, suing the company for defamation in 2019. He claimed that Jace Hall, who bought the score database in 2014, was trying to generate publicity by accusing "the most visible of all video gamers" of cheating.
Twin Galaxies would file a countersuit in 2021, claiming that Mitchell and former Twin Galaxies owner Walter Day had faked scores in order to raise the value of the database prior to a sale.
With evidence surfacing that Mitchell had indeed achieved his scores on a modified cabinet – and that he had lied about being given a plaque by Namco naming him the "Video Game Player of the Century" – the feeling was that the case was swinging in Twin Galaxies' favour.
However, a twist was in the works – Twin Galaxies' own lawyer, David Tashroudian, was accused of misconduct following that he improperly contacted two witnesses during the case, something he admitted to and expressed remorse for.
Now, after four years of legal manoeuvring, the case has been settled. Mitchell and Tashroudian shook hands following the announcement, while Superior Court Judge Wendy Chang, who had been presiding over the case, saying: "Oh my word. Can I tell you how happy I am?"