After a 6 year brawl, Billy Mitchell is back in the record books even though Twin Galaxies 'had all our ducks in a row' for a courtroom showdown

 Billy Mitchell gives a thumbs-up to camera.
Billy Mitchell gives a thumbs-up to camera.

Almost exactly six years after being stricken from the record by the scorekeepers at Twin Galaxies, Billy Mitchell's Donkey Kong's scores are back in the (historical) books. In a statement released Tuesday, Twin Galaxies announced that it was restoring all of Mitchell's scores to its official historical database but not, mind you, its modern leaderboards.

Mitchell was originally booted off of Twin Galaxies' record books after a member of its forums named Xelnia—real name Jeremy Young—posted a thread disputing that Mitchell had attained his scores on original, unmodified hardware. Young alleged that Mitchell had actually gotten his scores via arcade emulator MAME, making them invalid for inclusion in the arcade category.

Following "an independent investigation by Twin Galaxies, supported by a series of detailed submissions, experiments, and analyses," Mitchell's scores were yanked from both Twin Galaxies' records and the Guinness World Records, although he was reinstated into the latter back in 2020.

Mitchell has campaigned against his exclusion ever since, and a new submission appears to have convinced Twin Galaxies to finally reach a compromise. In its statement, Twin Galaxies says that a submission on behalf of Mitchell by Dr Michael Zyda has convincingly demonstrated that the anomalies originally pointed out by Young in 2018 could actually occur on unmodified Donkey Kong arcade hardware "if the hardware involved was malfunctioning likely due to degradation of components." You can find Zyda's full submission here.

"In fair consideration of the expert opinion provided by Dr. Zyda on behalf of Mr. Mitchell," says Twin Galaxies, "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." It has also archived and "[removed] from display" the original forum thread by Xelnia calling Mitchell's record into question.

In plainer English, this means that Mitchell and Twin Galaxies have reached a slightly hazy compromise in which Mitchell's Donkey Kong scores of 1,047,200 (the King of Kong Score), 1,050,200 (the Mortgage Brokers score), and 1,062,800 (the Boomers score), get to live on in the history books without featuring in the continuously updated scoredboards that you'd likely refer to if you were looking for an accurate reflection of the current Donkey Kong record-breaking scene.

So Mitchell gets to write in a statement on his (currently locked) Twitter account that "Twin Galaxies has reinstated all of the videogame world records that I achieved in my career, effective immediately," and Twin Galaxies gets to tell anyone unconvinced by Mitchell's defence that those scores are only present in its historical archives, and not its current scoreboards. Whether that will be enough to win those people over remains to be seen.

In a chat with Ars Technica, Twin Galaxies' lawyer David Tashroudian makes it sound like the organisation wanted, more than anything, for the scrap with Mitchell to finally be over and done with. Tashroudian told Ars that he was unsure if the cost of legal proceedings was "[Twin Galaxies'] primary motivating factor, but I think the finality really is something that we wanted to achieve."

Tashroudian even said that the organisation "had all of [its] ducks in a row" for a courtroom showdown with Mitchell—including filings that called some of Mitchell's experts into question—but it seems that putting a full stop at the end of this saga was more important. "It would definitely have been a fun trial and an interesting one considering all the facts," said Tashroudian.

But we'll never see how it would have shaken out, unless someone else comes forward with more evidence to call Mitchell into question once again. That is an avenue Twin Galaxies leaves open in its statement, after all. It writes that, while its own responsibility "is to verify that submissions meet verification guidelines, not to investigate how they are produced," the latter area "remains available to experts such as Dr. Zyda and other interested parties, who may examine and assess these matters for their individual purposes."