1981’s Donkey Kong is a particularly seminal title among video games. It was a groundbreaking for Nintendo, spawning two of gaming’s biggest mascots, Mario and the titular gorilla.

Moreover, the game’s legacy endures in part because of the competitive community surrounding it, with players across the world aiming to obtain the highest score. Billy Mitchell was one such player, generally regarded as the first to surpass one million points in the platforming classic. Surprisingly, however, his record score was removed from the Twin Galaxies leaderboard after an investigation revealed his score was indeed earned while playing on an emulator rather than authentic arcade hardware.


Twin Galaxies published a post on Thursday explaining the research that led to the decision to remove Mitchell’s records. This alteration will be effective immediately, and Twin Galaxies has informed the Guinness Book of World Records of their decision. In addition to Twin Galaxies’ investigation, a few independent third-party investigations occurred yielding comparable results.

The legitimacy of Mitchell’s high score has been challenged since August 28, 2017. On that day, Twin Galaxies member Jeremy Young contested that Mitchell’s three recorded scores – his King of Kong score of 1,047,200; his Mortgage Brokers score of 1,050,200; and his Boomers score of 1,062,800 – were performed on an emulator, not on a genuine arcade cabinet. Jeremy cited inauthentic board transitions seen in Mitchell’s footage as the reason. (Examples demonstrating the animation differences can be found over at the Donkey Kong forum.)

Oscars 2018: Best Dressed Slideshow!

The decision to remove Mitchell’s top three high scores means Steve Wiebe is now recognized as the first Donkey Kong player to exceed one million points. Mitchell’s new high score will be recognized as 933,900, which he earned at the Midwest Gaming Classic on May 7, 2004. This isn’t the first time a former record holder has been challenged, with Todd Rogers’ former high score for the Atari 2600 title Dragster similarly overwritten earlier this year.

Read more about: