Twin Galaxies Explores Capturing Equipment used in Billy Mitchell Score

Alex McCumbers,

March 31, 2018 3:15 AM

The dispute of Billy Mitchell's 1,062,800 score on Donkey Kong arcade has gotten further development as Twin Galaxies officials continue testing the method Mitchell supposedly used to capture his gameplay.

Twin Galaxies has been on a quest to discern whether or not a famous Donkey Kong arcade score submission is credible or smoke and mirrors. Billy Mitchell has been known for years as one of the most talented 80s players, making a name for himself with his perfect Pac-Man game and his back and forth Donkey Kong records with Steve Wiebe. The film "King of Kong: A Fistful of Quarters" also played up the rivalry and the chase to be the ultimate Donkey Kong player. However, a particular score of Mitchell’s has come under scrutiny through a dispute, leading Twin Galaxies to try and determine whether or not Billy Mitchell’s score of 1,062,800 points is a true score.

Recently, Twin Galaxies has been recreating the recording setup supposedly used by Billy Mitchell at the time the run was supposed to have been captured. Using components from that time, there are some new developments that may lead to more time before a final decision is made about the score.

As per the update on the matter in the forums, posted by Jace Hall, “Some of the new information relates to the fact that it does not seem to possible to directly record to a VHS VCR the NTSC Donkey Kong Arcade video signal that comes out of the TWO-BIT converter that was reportedly used by Billy to create his recordings.”

Source: Twin Galaxies
Source: Twin Galaxies

“Other revelations seems to indicate and confirm that no amount of external signal manipulation or failed signal capture methods have any effect on whether or not we will see an original arcade 5-girder transition screen in any lengthy recording of original arcade gameplay - all testing, and all the countless youtube video examples we have scoured has shown that we will see the 5-girder transition screen in an original arcade gameplay recording at some point in every recording longer than 30 minutes. We continue to investigate but so far there have been no identifiable exceptions.”

“This observation may play an important role because we can not find a single 5-girder transition screen on any of the Billy Mitchell Donkey Kong score performances we have. Please remember, while we are looking for the signature "3 girder-only-plus-finger" screen in original arcade output, we are also looking for unique original arcade signature transitions in Billy's performances as well.”

Hall goes on to explain their findings with that hardware. “Our testing of the TWO-BIT converter has indicated that it does not output a standard NTSC signal. In fact, the signal is so non-standard, that many devices will not recognize it fully and only output a BLACK AND WHITE or SEMI-MONOCHROMATIC display when they receive it. Only extremely forgiving devices seem to have any chance of interpreting the full signal. We have confirmed this behavior with @YesAffinity (Chris Gleed) who has been performing 3rd party confirmation work with the other TWO-BIT converter we purchased and sent to him.”

“We have yet to find any VHS recorder that will recognize the signal properly and record it in full and proper color. Every VHS recorder records it in black and white.”

“The only thing we have found that can correct the signal are some (not all) analog-to-digital conversion technologies, but using them to signal stabilize would then break the specific analog chain required to produce a VHS recording according the the claimed recording method.”

“All testing is currently showing that it may not be possible to create a recording that looks like Billy Mitchell's using an original arcade machine, a TWO-BIT converter and a VHS recorder only.”

“More to this point, even Carlos Pineiro, using Billy Mitchell's actual equipment, could not produce a direct-feed recording that visually looked anything like what we see on Billy's tapes. That doesn't make sense. Using Billy's equipment should produce a visual recording that looks similar to Billy's - this variance is unexplained by Carlos.”

With this video being that one shared by Pineiro:

Lastly, a video informally discussing the most recent findings can be found on the original forum post. Currently, there are just enough questions that has left Hall and his crew wondering and requiring further research into the matter. The investigation continues, further updates will be posted in the forums on that dispute, significant ones may continue to be shared on the editorial side.

Hall ended the post with, “Again, we hoped to have completed our investigation by now, however it is our job to really look at as much as we reasonably can as closely as possible. We feel that we are nearing the end of our due diligence process but it is going to require a little more time for comprehensive purposes. Please bear with us and we appreciate everyone's patience.”


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