If you are a fan of retro arcade gaming, then you no doubt have heard of Billy Mitchell, the man that many have come to either love…or hate. Billy’s air of arrogance of which many people’s hate originates was first seen by the public in the highly successful 2007 documentary, “The King of Kong: A Fistful of Quarters”. The documentary itself goes through the battle to claim one of the more famous high scores in gaming history, the top score in the arcade version of Donkey Kong, and the story of those who fought to reach the top. In the documentary, Billy Mitchell goes score for score with fan favorite Steve Wiebe, who up until recently had held the record. Check out the trailer below:
Since the filming of that documentary, the actual record has been traded off several times, with the most recent record holder being New York man Hank Chien. However, this record has once again changed hands, as Billy Mitchell has now retaken the record with a score of 1,062,800 after a day of play at Boomers arcade in Florida this past weekend.
Now why is this particular record breaking run so important? Well, it just so happened that Billy’s record breaking game took place on the same weekend as he was to be inducted into the new International Video Game Hall of Fame in Ottumwa, Iowa. Billy was inducted along with some of the most influental people in gaming for the first year of members to join the HOF, including Donkey Kong creator Shigeru Miyamoto and industry pioneer Nolan Bushnell.
In his speech on Saturday, Billy didn’t normally have the confident swagger that he normally lets on in many of his other appearances. This of course does bring up the question: Is Billy Mitchell really as arrogant as he lets on, or was he just taken back by the light of the situation? Here is a video of the speech if you would like to hear it for yourself:
So does Billy Mitchell ultimately deserve to be known as a video game “Hall of Famer”? That can be left up to everyone’s opinion, but there is no question that the man will always be remembered in the world of arcade gaming — even once his records are once again beaten. But until they in fact do go down again, the man in arcade gaming that everyone loves to hate will remain their Donkey Kong champion.