For literally years now, there have been claims that Billy Mitchell cheated to get his world records in Donkey Kong. Mitchell has fought off these accusations numerous times, but the evidence continues to mount. Today brings us yet another wave of details that seem to indicate Billy’s wins were ill-gotten.

A new series of photos has surfaced that show Billy appeared to use an 8-way joystick mod for his Donkey Kong record, rather than the original 4-way joystick on standard Donkey Kong arcade machines. Obviously, using a more sophisticated joystick would make it easier to pull of crucial maneuvers.

This goes hand-in-hand with old claims that Mitchell achieved his scores via emulation, rather than actual hardware. Mitchell filed lawsuit against those who made the claim, saying he achieved his records on unmodified, original arcade hardware. Obviously, these new pictures seem to dispute that.

We’ll keep track of the situation going forward and let you know of any other discoveries.

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1+ y ago


I think it is important to note that an upgraded joystick doesn't automatically give an advantage as implied above. Pac-Man for example doesn't know what do to with diagonal input and 8 way joystick makes critical turns more difficult. They didn't have much storage so the games were only written for what was included as hardware!

In the case of Donkey Kong, there is a roll on steering barrels when on ladders and the 8 way joystick in this case allows you to move and steer at the same time. Not possible on a 4 way. That joystick and the game start buttons are clearly not stock in this photo, though.

Edited 3 times

If it weren't for that barrel-steering trick, I'd almost consider an 8-way joystick to be a detriment in Donkey Kong. It makes a whole lot of other normal maneuvers feel weird, like the Pac-Man example you mentioned.

But if a person were as dedicated to cheating as Mitchell appears to be, an 8-way joystick is something you can get used to, I suppose.

I just wonder how people can tell it's an 8-way joystick from the photo. It certainly looks like an after-market joystick, but as it's a photo from the outside, we can't see its gating mechanism.