News: Billy Mitchell’s Last Roll of the Dice

Billy Mitchell Sues Twin Galaxies

Imagine being so hung up on 1980s pseudo fame that one not only feels the need to fake their gaming exploits, but then also turns around and sues the body who caught them in this shameful act! That is Billy Mitchell! Back in 2018 Billy Mitchell was stripped of all his world record titles by Twin Galaxies, and banned from submitting any future record attempts. Twin Galaxies is the body that Guinness World Records goes through to source their gaming world records. Records are ascertained by would-be record holders sending in video footage of their record attempts, and in order for these attempts to be valid they must be performed on actual hardware, as opposed to emulation. Twin Galaxies used to be owned by a chap named Walter Day, and because of personal connections Billy Mitchell’s legitimacy was protected under his reign. When Day sold the business Mitchell was suddenly without a protector willing to cover for him, and the footage of his record attempts were finally placed under scrutiny. It turned out that the screen transitions in Billy Mitchell’s Donkey Kong record attempts featured artefacts that would have been impossible on actual hardware, but which were perfectly consistent with the game running on MAME. This was determined by a two month investigation on the part of Twin Galaxies, along with two other individuals outside of the company.

His entire legacy is based on a lie.
Billy Mitchell should just let it go and move on.

This week it has been revealed that Billy Mitchell has hit back at Twin Galaxies, suing them in an attempt to reinstate his records for Donkey Kong and Pac Man. Mitchell is suing them for libel, claiming that Twin Galaxies is slandering his good name by insinuating that he is a cheat. This is ridiculous, given how careful Twin Galaxies was in wording their verdict on Billy Mitchell. Record attempts on anything other than actual hardware is prohibited, and so the only thing that Twin Galaxies set out to assert was that Mitchell’s attempts were not made using actual hardware – and both of his Donkey Kong record attempts were exposed as emulation.

Billy Mitchell’s smoking gun that he provides as proof of Twin Galaxies slander is this:

From a Twin Galaxies viewpoint, the only important thing to know is whether or not the score performances are from an unmodified original DK arcade PCB as per the competitive rules. We now believe that they are not from an original unmodified DK arcade PCB, and so our investigation of the tape content ends with that conclusion and assertion.

With this ruling Twin Galaxies can no longer recognize Billy Mitchell as the 1st million point Donkey Kong record holder.

So where is the lie? Twin Galaxies cannot prove that Billy Mitchell cheated, so they do not try. All they have to prove is that Mitchell did not set his records on actual hardware, and that is emphatically the case. Regardless, Mitchell cites the above quote as proof that Twin Galaxies were attempting to slander him by insinuating that he cheated:

The statement is libelous in its face: it asserts that Mitchell did not achieve his record scores legitimately, i.e., through “the competitive rules” applicable to all players. Instead, it asserts that Mitchell achieved his record scores only by impermissibly and secretly shortcutting those rules. That is, Mitchell achieved the scores by “cheating” as Webster’s dictionary defines cheating: to “violate rules dishonestly”.

The claim is grasping and pathetic. Billy Mitchell attempts to further strengthen his case by citing a source that is not even related to Twin Galaxies. Variety published an article covering Mitchell being stripped of his records, in which they directly they directly label him a cheat. Mitchell is claiming that Twin Galaxy smears have led Variety to falsely conclude that he cheated in his world record attempts, yet very clearly all Twin Galaxy did was soberly state true things, and then Variety formed their own conclusion – because they were very logical conclusions to draw:

That the statement expressly accused Mitchell of cheating is further evidenced by the news commentary that followed. Variety, for instance, pulled no punches in describing Twin Galaxies’ decision as follows (with emphasis added):

”Famed high-score gamer Billy Mitchell, best known for his role in “The King of Kong: A Fistful of Quarters” documentary, was officially stripped of his “Donkey Kong” and other video game high scores and banned from submitting scores to the world’s largest tracker of video game world records following a decision that he cheated, Twin Galaxies announced today.”

From there Mitchell’s suit goes on to moan that Twin Galaxies disregarded eye witness accounts of Mitchell setting his record – but why would they? Twin Galaxy cannot conclusively prove that Mitchell cheated, so they would be in big trouble if that was what they were trying to assert – which is why they do not touch that issue. As such it would be weird if they did take eye witness accounts into consideration. So Billy Mitchell did not appear to cheat when setting his record? Fine, he still did not use real hardware, and attempted to falsely pass off his attempt as being set on real hardware, so nothing changes. His records are still invalid and he is still banned.

There are plenty of MAME arcade cabinets out there. If somebody duped Billy Mitchell into using a MAME cabinet – TWICE – to set his records then they have done him dirty, but that is not on Twin Galaxy, and, real talk, such a situation sounds extremely unlikely given all available evidence. Getting caught falsifying your record attempts is really sad, but dragging this weak bullshit to court is just pathetic.

An Interesting Week for Nintendo IP

Mario 64 has been natively ported to PC. Readers may be wondering what purpose this could possibly serve given that the game can just be emulated in high resolution widescreen without having to reinvent the wheel. This project is not for nothing though. A recompilation project has reverse engineered Mario 64 into a DirectX 12 executable, which can be played using advanced graphical effects like ray tracing. Predictably Nintendo lawyers have moved to shutdown the pages linking to this project, and for once it is difficult to argue against their attempts to protect their IP – or at least that would be the case if Nintendo did not overshoot their remit in typical Nintendo fashion! Nintendo have been attempting to takedown any Youtube video covering the existence of this Mario 64 PC port, which is as petty and stupid as usual.

Just in case you ever wanted cutting edge lighting with your blocky 90s platformer.
Mario 64 has been natively ported to PC.

In other news a fuckton of Nintendo’s proprietary information has been leaked online. The Crown Jewels of this booty are the full and complete source code for the Nintendo 64, GameCube, and Wii. Also among this haul is the development documentation for these consoles, along with the DS, 64DD, and the China only iQue. In theory this information could be used to improve the emulation of Nintendo systems. In theory this information could drastically accelerate the recreation of these systems through FPGA chips. One says in theory, because any large scale project would be playing with fire by making use of this information, given how famously litigious Nintendo is with their intellectual property. Any direct use of proprietary Nintendo code could get an entire project shut down. Familiarity with this information could enhance the efforts of people developing home brew, custom firmware, and other random applications for these consoles. Immediate use of this information may sound dicey, but over time this can only lead to a more lively and effective Nintendo modding, emulation, and home brew scene, so this is exciting news. The only thing that is absolutely certain though is that Chinese companies will be able to use this information in order to produce clone consoles with absolute impunity.

More Impressive Numbers from Nintendo

Animal Crossing: New Horizons has sold amazingly well. It sold 11.77 million copies in its first eleven days on sale, and it had sold 13.4 million copies after six weeks on sale. For reference Animal Crossing: New Leaf (2012) sold 12.55 million across its entire lifetime. But then as they say, a rising tide lifts all ships, and that ship is the Nintendo Switch which has now accrued 55.77 million units sold as of March 31st. All up 356.24 Million units of software have been sold on Nintendo Switch.

It should have sold more tho.
Astral Chain has sold over a million copies.

With the huge success of New Horizons, the Nintendo Switch top ten now stands at:

Mario Kart 8 Deluxe – 24.77 million units
Super Smash Bros. Ultimate – 18.84 million units
The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild – 17.41 million units
Super Mario Odyssey – 17.41 million units
Pokémon Sword/Pokémon Shield – 17.37 million units
Pokémon: Let’s Go, Pikachu! / Pokémon: Let’s Go, Eevee! – 11.97 million units
Animal Crossing: New Horizons – 11.77 million units
Splatoon 2 – 10.13 million units
Super Mario Party – 10.10 million units
New Super Mario Bros. U Deluxe – 6.60 million units

Finally, while it did not quite make the top ten (by a long shot), Astral Chain has now sold 1.08 million copies. It maybe has not quite sold as well as one might have hoped, yet compared to the Platnum Games library on the whole it is still one of their most successful games; only losing out to Nier Automata.