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Ex-Donkey Kong record holder threatens to sue Guinness

A gamer who had the highest score ever in the arcade classic Donkey Kong has threatened to sue Guinness World Records after his achievement was deemed fake and removed from its listings.

Billy Mitchell was for years considered the greatest arcade video game player in history because of his records in a number of celebrated titles, including the original Pac-Man from 1980.

However, his reputation was left in tatters last April when two of his previously accepted scores in the hit 1981 Nintendo game Donkey Kong were invalidated by official scorekeeper Twin Galaxies.

Image: Donkey Kong hit arcades for the first time in 1981

It was alleged that Mr Mitchell had not achieved the one million-plus scores on original hardware as he had claimed, and had actually recorded them on an emulator.

An emulator is a computer programme that replicates an arcade machine or games console.

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Following a "meticulous" investigation, he was effectively labelled a cheat, had his records expunged by Twin Galaxies and Guinness World Records, and was banned from submitting any scores in future.

His perfect Pac-Man record of 3,333,360, set in 1999, was also removed.

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Lawyers for Mr Mitchell, 54, are now threatening to sue both organisations unless they retract "defamatory statements made against him" and "immediately restore his achievements and good name".

In a letter sent to Twin Galaxies and Guinness World Records, including 168 pages of purported evidence, his lawyers say they did not give him a fair opportunity to prove his innocence.

Mr Mitchell also held a record in Pac-Man
Image: Mr Mitchell also held a record in Pac-Man

Suspicions that Mr Mitchell had used an emulator were first raised by Donkey Kong forum moderator Jeremy Young.

He believed images seen in footage of the record run could not have been generated by an original arcade machine and alerted Twin Galaxies.

Upon completing its investigation, Twin Galaxies said: "Based on the complete body of evidence presented in this official dispute thread, Twin Galaxies administrative staff has unanimously decided to remove all of Billy Mitchell's scores as well as ban him from participating in our competitive leaderboards."

According to the Guinness World Records website, the current holder is Robbie Lakeman, who achieved a verified score of 1,247,700 on 2 February 2018.

But on the Twin Galaxies has a more recent number one – John McCurdy, who scored 1,259,000 on 23 July 2019.

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