Skip to main content

Long read: The beauty and drama of video games and their clouds

"It's a little bit hard to work out without knowing the altitude of that dragon..."

If you click on a link and make a purchase we may receive a small commission. Read our editorial policy.

Guinness World Records reinstates Billy Mitchell's Pac-Man and Donkey Kong records

"I want to get back to work..."

Guinness World Records has reinstated Billy Mitchell's disqualified world records for Pac-Man and Donkey Kong.

In a video message, Guinness World Records editor-in-chief, Craig Glenday said that after an investigation, Guinness now again recognises a raft of classic records, including Mitchell's first perfect score on Pac-Man from July 1999, that were disqualified over concern Mitchell achieved them on an emulator rather than legitimate arcade hardware.

"In the light of compelling new evidence received by Guinness World Records, the Records Management Team has unanimously decided to reverse decisions made in April 2018 in regards to video game high scores achieved by Billy Mitchell between 1982 and 2010," Guinness World Records said in a statement.

"In this case, a re-examination of the records in question and the emergence of key eyewitness and expert testimonials led to a reversal of earlier disqualifications and the reinstating of Mr Mitchell's original records. The records archive has been updated accordingly to reflect this."

Here are the reinstated records:

  • 3 July 1999 - First Perfect Score on Pac-Man - 3,333,360 Points
  • 7 November 1982 - Highest score on Donkey Kong - 874,300 Points
  • 4 June 2005 - Highest score on Donkey Kong - 1,047,200 Points
  • 14 July 2007 - Highest score on Donkey Kong - 1,050,200 Points
  • 31 July 2010 - Highest score on Donkey Kong - 1,062,800 Points

In the video below, Mitchell hailed the news, saying he will now focus on getting his video game career back on track.

Watch on YouTube

In the same video, Twin Galaxies founder Walter Day said he was "very pleased to see this happen, and I had faith it would come out this way because all of those people who were part of the old days, who played the old games and saw Billy Mitchell play - they knew he was completely capable of getting these records, and they also knew that there was no MAME being available to be played on back in the old golden age".

Mitchell is a controversial figure in the retro video game community. He hit mainstream headlines after being the focus of 2007 film The King of Kong: A Fistful of Quarters alongside fellow Donkey Kong high score chaser Steve Wiebe. In April 2019, Twin Galaxies determined a number of Donkey Kong score tapes submitted by Mitchell were not achieved on an "unmodified original DK arcade PCB as per the competitive rules". As Guinness partners with Twin Galaxies to adjudicate video game-based records, it disqualified the records in question. Then, in September 2019, Mitchell threatened to sue Guinness over the removal of his records.

"Do I want future world records?" Mitchell said. "I guess it's too difficult to say no to that, so I guess maybe I do. But more than anything, I want to get back to work - the ambassadorship, competitive gaming, the legacy that's going to leave behind long after we're gone. That's my true passion, and that's what I'm going to be doing."