Donkey Timeline

Tracking the History of a High Score

This is an ongoing research effort examining the progression of the official Donkey Kong high score, prompted by conflicting narratives around the documentary King of Kong.

This timeline is incomplete. It will probably always be incomplete. But every effort will be made to document, compile and condense all the available information on the historical progression of the Donkey Kong high score.

This data is compiled and formatted by Jason Brown. If you wish to express public outrage or confusion regarding this effort, you are encouraged to target this post at his blog (zota).

If you have questions, corrections, clarifications, or further information, please use the Superbunker contact form or email donkeytime at superbunker

Major sources include:


Score Categorization:

  • VERIFIED: The score which has been confirmed and formally accepted according to Twin Galaxies rules and policies. For purposes of this category, when representatives of Twin Galaxies declare a score invalid, it is no longer listed here as the “verified” score.
  • TG DATABASE: The high score listed in the Twin Galaxies database.
  • UNVERIFIED: Scores which have been submitted to Twin Galaxies, but which have not yet been formally verified.
  • OTHER: Informally submitted scores, documented but unverified scores, recategorized scores (such as “Double Donkey Kong”)

Timeline Commentary:
Missing or unconfirmed data are marked in green.

Questions are highlighted in green

Disputed claims and omissions are highlighted in yellow.

1982

1982 July 13

Billy Mitchell scores 874,300 at Twin Galaxies

1982 November 07

Billy Mitchell’s scores validated (posted?) by Twin Galaxies verify

verified record Billy Mitchell: 874,300
TG database ?
unverified n/a

2000

2000 August 17

Tim Sczerby scores record 879,200 points. Video tape submitted to Twin Galaxies.

verified record Billy Mitchell: 874,300
TG database Billy Mitchell: 874,300 ?
unverified Tim Sczerby: 879,200

2001

2001 April 01

Robert Mruczek begins working with Twin Galaxies as a contributing editor.

2001 April 23

Twin Galaxies verification date for Tim Sczerby’s videotaped record

Robert Mruczek states (August 24, 2007) that he does not know who verified this score, when the score was entered, or who entered it. Regarding the tape itself, Mruczek states: “no mention of this even being on tape has come across my level of attention.”

verified record Tim Sczerby: 879,200
TG database Tim Sczerby: 879,200 ?
unverified n/a
  • Classic Arcade Gaming Forum: Tim’s Score
  • Twin Galaxies database, circa June 3, 2005 – King of Kong

2001 April 26 approx

Billy Mitchell calls Tim Sczerby to congratulate him.

  • source

2001 August 01

Robert Mruczek becomes Twin Galaxies chief referee.

2003

2003 June 30

Steve Wiebe scores record 947,200 points. Video tape submitted to Twin Galaxies.

In King of Kong,, graphics showing score progression do not list Tim Sczerby’s record.

verified record Tim Sczerby: 879,200
TG database Tim Sczerby: 879,200
unverified Steve Wiebe: 947,200
  • source

2003 July 06

Twin Galaxies verification date for Steve Wiebe’s record

Q: announcement dates?

2003 July 17

Steve Wiebe’s record announced by Twin Galaxies referee Robert Mruczek on FunSpot discussion forum

verified record Steve Wiebe: 947,200
TG database Steve Wiebe: 947,200
unverified n/a

2003 July 18

On the FunSpot discussion thread announcing the score, Darren Harris says that Steve Wiebe’s score was made on a “Double Donkey Kong” game. Harris does not publicly disclose the reason for this accusation. Robert Mruczek promises to investigate.

verified record Steve Wiebe: 947,200 (disputed)
TG database Steve Wiebe: 947,200
unverified n/a

2003 July 26

Walter Day announces that if Steve Wiebe used a “Double” Donkey Kong board, it would mean his “hold on the traditional DK record would be relinquished.”

In his King of Kong rebuttals, Walter Day claims that Twin Galaxies considered Wiebe’s July 2003 score an official Donkey Kong score until 2006.

2003 July-October

Robert Mruczek, Brian Kuh and Chris Ayra carefully document the videotape of Webie’s record game. Billy Mitchell is consulted, although Mruczek claims that Mitchell never saw any tapes of Wiebe’s games. He does not say if Mitchell was given any of the extensive documentation and diagramming compiled in the verification process.

2003 October 29

Twin Galaxies referee Robert Mruczek publicly announces that “at this time” Steve Wiebe’s record Donkey Kong score would be reclassified as a “Double Donkey Kong” score. Mruczek declares that he is putting the matter to rest, tying up the sole loose end and providing closure.

Walter Day claims that Twin Galaxies considered Wiebe’s July 2003 score an official Donkey Kong score until 2006.

verified record Tim Sczerby: 879,200
TG database Steve Wiebe: 947,200 ??
unverified n/a
other Steve Wiebe: 947,200 (DDK)

2003 November 09

On the FunSpot thread discussing the reclassification of Steve Wiebe’s score, user Rick calls Billy M a “current record holder.”

In subsequent discussion, Robert Mruczek responds by saying he places “a great deal of implicit trust and respect in the integrity of fellow TG Board of Director member, Bill Mitchell.” Mruczek does not discuss Mitchell in the context of holding a Donkey Kong record, nor does he mention Tim Sczerby.

2004

2004 month

According to Robert Mruczek, Billy Mitchell “submitted” a taped with a score of 1,014,000, but it was never recognized by Twin Galaxies because “it was never formally submitted to TG for consideration”

Q: date, confirmation, further explanation…

2004 May 27

Twin Galaxies verification date for Billy Mitchell score of 933,900, played live at the Midwest Gaming Classic in Milwaukee, with Walter Day in attendance.

If Steve Wiebe’s score was considered “Double Donkey Kong,” then by beating Tim Sczerby’s score, Billy Mitchell would have reclaimed the “traditional” Donkey Kong world record.

King of Kong graphics showing progression of scores do not list Billy Mitchell’s 2004 record.

In his King of Kong rebuttals, Walter Day does not acknowledge that Billy Mitchell was the first player to beat Sczerby with an uncontested score.

verified record Billy Mitchell: 933,900
TG database Steve Wiebe: 947,200
unverified n/a
other Steve Wiebe: 947,200 (DDK)
  • Twin Galaxies listings – June 3 2005 (King of Kong DVD)

2004 May 29

Steve Wiebe submits a videotaped score of 985,000 to Twin Galaxies.

Q: exact score?

verified record Billy Mitchell: 933,900
TG database Steve Wiebe: 947,200
unverified Steve Wiebe: 985,000 exact?
other Steve Wiebe: 947,200 (DDK)

2004 June 29

Steve Wiebe submits a videotaped score of 999,500 to Twin Galaxies.

verified record Billy Mitchell: 933,900
TG database Steve Wiebe: 947,200
unverified Steve Wiebe: 999,500 / 985,000
other Steve Wiebe: 947,200 (DDK)

2004 July 04

Steve Wiebe submits a videotaped score of 1,000,600 to Twin Galaxies — first documented million point game ??

verified record Billy Mitchell: 933,900
TG database Steve Wiebe: 947,200
unverified Steve Wiebe: 1,000,600 / 999,500 / 985,000
other Steve Wiebe: 947,200 (DDK)

2004 August 15

Q: correct date?

Brian Kuh and Perry Rodgers visit Nicole and Steve Wiebe’s house with research instructions supplied by Twin Galaxies. The nature of the visit is disputed. [ NAME ] is quoted in King of Kong claiming that this visit was made at the request of Billy Mitchell.

Q: when was visit first discussed?

The Twin Galaxies researchers find an envelope from Roy Shildt in Steve Wiebe’s garage. According to Steve Sanders, “That was when the wheels came off. That was when the series of events depicted in Kong began to unfold.” Shildt’s connection to Wiebe becomes the central reason Twin Galaxies rejects Wiebe’s subsequent videotaped scores. cite

Shortly after this visit, Ed Cunningham — eventual producer of King of Kong — meets Steve Wiebe through a mutual friend.

This visit has been described as a “break-in,” but the entry was not forced. Nicole Wiebe told the two men to stay out of the house till Steve got home. After she left, her mother let them in.

In his King of Kong posts, Walter Day reports that the two researchers felt their visit was “harmless and friendly.” Day does not report how Nicole and Steve Wiebe felt.

2004 August 20

Billy Mitchell and Steve Wiebe both attend Classic Gaming Expo pre-event banquet. During Classic Gaming Expo, they were supposed to play Donkey Kong head to head in an attempt to beat a million points, but no Donkey Kong games were available. They did play the MAME version together. A poster is made — paid for by Mitchell — to commemorate Wiebe and Mitchell’s million point scores. It is unclear if this was motivated by the taped scores or the live attempt.

2004 August 22

Steve Wiebe and Billy Mitchell interviewed together by Shane Monroe and Brian Smith on Retrogaming Radio.

2004 August-November

Q: what are the dates?

Twin Galaxies makes a DVD copy of Steve Wiebe’s tape of his million point game and gives it to him as a gift. (at Classic Gaming Expo?) Wiebe puts a copy (?) of the DVD up for sale on eBay. Twin Galaxies objects to this as a violation of their intellectual property (?) and calls it a “backdoor” way to gain notoriety for the score. exact objections

2004 November 10

Robert Mruczek publicly announces on that “due to the involvement of a 3rd party individual,” Steve Wiebe’s boards were all in doubt and none of his videotaped scores could be verified.

In this same Twin Galaxies forum thread, Mruczek repeats a previous offer to fly out to Washington State and watch Wiebe play. Wiebe publicly accepts Robert Mruczek’s offer to come out, and leaves a phone message Mruczek. Mruczek tries to email Wiebe. They are seemingly unable to connect…

Q: what happened?

2005

2005 [ Month ]

Q: date?

The crew for what would become King of Kong begins filming (initially they were following several possible stories). According to producer Ed Cunningham, after the 7th annual Funspot Tournament: “It was apparent that there was more at stake than just high scores”

2005 March 01

In a Twin Galaxies thread discussing million point Donkey Kong scores, Twin Galaxies head referee Robert Mruczek discloses the extensive documentation he’s compiled on high scoring strategies, and the fact that he has only shared this data privately with a handful of “top gamers.” Mruczek says that this was a reference to the documentation of the million point games of Steve Wiebe and Billy Mitchell, and that he shared this information with both of them.

2005 March 25

The oldest archive.org copy (circa March 2008) of the Twin Galaxies Donkey Kong score listing:

  1. 100.00 % | 947,200 | Steve J Wiebe | 07/06/2003 | Video
  2. 98.60 % | 933,900 | Billy L Mitchell | 05/27/2004 | Referee
  3. 92.82 % | 879,200 | Timothy F Sczerby | 04/23/2001 | Video

2005 June: Funspot

Funspot Tournament: June 2-5

Q: details of Mitchell’s bounties?

According to Mark Alpiger, Roy Shildt was banned from the 2005 tournament because he allegedly made a FunSpot employee cry with abusive phone calls.

The Donkey Kong high score situation when Funspot started:

verified record Billy Mitchell: 933,900
TG database Steve Wiebe: 947,200
unverified Steve Wiebe: 1,000,600 rejected due to “3rd party”
other Steve Wiebe: 947,200 (DDK)
other Billy Mitchell: 1,014,000 (unofficial submission) date

2005 June 03

Steve Wiebe scores 985,600 live at Funspot, a verified record.

verified record Steve Wiebe: 985,600
TG database Steve Wiebe: 985,600
unverified Steve Wiebe: 1,000,600 / 999,500 / 985,000

2005 June 04

While Steve Wiebe tries to score a million points live, Walter Day and Brian Kuh screen the final portion of a videotape by Billy Mitchell with a score of 1,047,200.

Q: date this game was actually played?

According to Robert Mruczek, Brian Kuh tried to put the television with Billy Mitchell’s video on top of the Donkey Kong game that Steve Wiebe was actually playing. Mruczek strongly objected to this.

When Wiebe finished playing, Brian Kuh did not allow him to see any of Mitchell’s tape. After the tape had been shown “for entertainment purposes,” Mitchell told Walter Day by phone that the score is an official submission — Day immediately verified the score and updated the Twin Galaxies database with a world record.

The fact that Brian Kuh tried to put a television on top of the game Steve Wiebe was playing was left out of both Walter Day’s description of this event and King of Kong.

verified record Billy Mitchell: 1,047,200
TG database Billy Mitchell: 1,047,200
unverified Steve Wiebe: 1,000,600 / 999,500 / 985,000

At the time Walter Day was entering this score, the official Twin Galaxies database listing was as follows:

  1. 985,600, Steve J Wiebe, 06/03/2005
  2. 933,900, Billy L Mitchell, 05/27/2004
  3. 879,200, Timothy F Sczerby, 04/23/2001

2005 June 07

Head referee Robert Mruczek takes Billy Mitchell’s videotaped score down. Steve Wiebe is the record holder until Mitchell’s video can be officially verified.

verified record Steve Wiebe: 985,600
TG database Steve Wiebe: 985,600
unverified Billy Mitchell: 1,047,200

User pacmanfevr76 on the Twin Galaxies forums notes that Billy Mitchell’s 933,900 score is back in the listings as the second place score.

2005 June 08

Walter Day sends and email to Steve Wiebe apologizing for playing Billy Mitchell’s tape at the same time that Wiebe was playing. Day does not apologize for immediately certifying Billy Mitchell’s score based on an unverified duplicate videotape.

2006

2006 January 06

Billy Mitchell’s videotaped score is “formally and definitively approved” as a world record. It is the first million point score validated by Twin Galaxies.

Q: date of verification? date of original game? did this record pre-date Wiebe’s live score?

In his posts regarding the tape shown at Funspot, Walter Day does not acknowledge that this taped score was verified as a record

verified record Billy Mitchell: 1,047,200
TG database Billy Mitchell: 1,047,200
unverified n/a

2006 January 30

According to Robert Mruczek, Steve Wiebe’s 2003 score was removed from the Donkey Kong database. Also around this time (?), all of Steve Wiebe’s submitted videotaped scores were formally rejected by Twin Galaxies.

Q: were they reclassified as DDK or totally rejected? specific dates?

verified record Billy Mitchell: 1,047,200
TG database Billy Mitchell: 1,047,200
unverified n/a

2006 April 6-9

“Who’s the Toughest Gun in the Dodge City of Video Games?” at Apollo Amusements, Pompano Beach, Florida.

This tournament was framed as a series of head-to-head competitions between top video game players. Steve Wiebe and Billy Mitchell were scheduled ? to play against each other — Mitchell briefly visited the tournament but did not play.

Events as depicted in King of Kong are contested by representatives of Twin Galaxies. According to Walter Day, Billy Mitchell felt that Steve Wiebe was “under the guidance” of Roy Shildt (Mr. Awesome) and therefore did not want Wiebe to come to his restaurant. But Day objects to the way King of Kong portrays Mitchell’s desire to avoid contact with Wiebe.

2006 August 29

Steve Wiebe submits a videotaped score of 1,049,100 to Twin Galaxies. This is the score shown at the end of King of Kong verify

verified record Billy Mitchell: 1,047,200
TG database Billy Mitchell: 1,047,200
unverified Steve Wiebe: 1,049,100

2006 December 19

Robert Mruczek leaves the staff of Twin Gallaxies

2007

2007 January 22

King of Kong premieres at the Slamdance Film Festival

2007 February

In a series of podcasts by All Games Interactive, Roy Shildt repetedly insults Twin Galaxies and praises the film King of Kong. This is discussed in the context of Shildt’s disputed Missile Command scores.

2007 February 04

Regarding a 3 hour interview with Robert Mruczek, Walter Day and Roy Shildt, Mruczek says that Shildt tried to bring up Steve Wiebe, Billy Mitchell and Twin Galaxies finances. According to Mruczek: “All participants, myself included, raised our voices at times, so it may be difficult to hear on occassion.”

2007 February 14

In reference to one of the All Games Interactive podcasts, Robert Mruczek says Roy Shildt sounds like a paid spokesperson for King of Kong.

In this context, Mruczek describes the film as: “a one-sided version of score attempts on Donkey Kong as chronicled by Steve Wiebe and you-know-who” (Roy Shildt). Mruczek’s opinion that King of Kong is chronicled by Wiebe and Shildt is rather unique.

At this point, Robert Mruczek had not yet seen King of Kong.

2007 March 23

Steve Wiebe’s score of 1,049,100 is verified by Twin Galaxies date?.

verified record Steve Wiebe: 1,049,100
TG database Steve Wiebe: 1,049,100
unverified n/a

2007 June 11

Theatrical film print for King of Kong

2007 June 26

Twin Galaxies date of verification for the score Billy Mitchell will get on July 13

  • King of Kong DVD verify

2007 July 13

Billy Mitchell scores 1,050,200 live at Florida Mortgage Bankers meeting — a verified record.

verified record (Billy Mitchell: 1,050,200) verified live?
TG database Steve Wiebe: 1,049,100
unverified (Billy Mitchell: 1,050,200) verified live?

2007 August 10

2008 Guinness Book of World Records publishes Wiebe’s score of 1,049,100

what was cutoff date?

2007 August 14

Steve Wiebe attempts to set a new record playing live in New York City.

2007 August 15

Walter Day announces new requirements for Donkey Kong score verification:
All submissions for scores exceeding 1,000,000 points must be video recorded, they must also be witnessed by Walter Day or a Senior Referee, and the board must be certified by Twin Galaxies.

2007 August 16

Steve Wiebe attempts to set a new record at the King of Kong premiere in Los Angeles, but according to the new Twin Galaxies rules, the attempt was invalid because Walter Day could not be present.

  • King of Kong DVD verify

2007 August 17

King of Kong limited theatrical release (5 theaters)

2007 August 19

At the Alamo Draft House in Austin, Steve Wiebe tries to set a new record. Walter Day is present, with Brian Kuh and Dwayne Richard.

  • King of Kong DVD verify

2007 August 22

Robert Mruczek frames his feelings about King of Kong in legal terms:

it is nothing more than a slick editing job resulting in a conactenation of lies and half-truths, and is a classic exercise in how to engage in character assassination, defamation of character, slander and libel.

In short it is a lawsuit waiting to happen.

At this point, Robert Mruczek had not yet seen King of Kong.

2007 August 26

Twin Galaxies news headlines:

  1. Tyeson’s Wish Fulfilled by Billy Mitchell and Others — Billy Mitchell joins Make-A-Wish Foundation in honoring Sick Youth
  2. Steve Wiebe Scores 695,500 in Austin — Fatigue sets in as he tries to break Billy Mitchell’s 1,050,200 Mark

2007 August (??)

Twin Galaxies verifies Billy Mitchell’s July 13 score, but it is posted with the date of June 26.

  • King of Kong DVD verify

2007 September 04

King of Kong DVD delivery date.

2007 September 9

King of Kong expands to 39 US theaters.

2007 September 26

Walter Day begins posting criticisms and rebuttals to King of Kong on the Twin Galaxies forums, beginning with Tim Sczerby’s record.

2008

2008 January 29

King of Kong DVD release

2008 Feb 04

Archivist and documentary filmmaker Jason Scott publishes criticisms of King of Kong, largely quoting Robert Mruczek and Walter Day. His repetition of these accusations and his extensive autobiographical follow-up critique are widely distributed and discussed.

2008 Feb 24

Mark Alpiger reprimands former chief referee Robert Mruczek for claiming Jillian Wiebe — the young daughter of Nicole and Steve — was coached to deliver a line in King of Kong about the Guinness book ruining people’s lives. Mruczek used this claim to insinuate that the entire Wiebe family are untrustworthy liars. Mruczek does not explain how this demeaning statement directed at Steve Wiebe by one of his own children is evidence of bias of the film.

In this context Mruczek announced that he compiled an extensive list of the errors in King of Kong, but promised Walter Day “in writing” not to share these notes “until the new TG legal counsel has had the opportunity to review and evaluate the strength and nature of these findings.”

2008 Mar 09

Robert Mruczek posts his data tracking what he considers the most obvious errors in King of Kong. His data focuses on the re-use of video game clips, errors in the audio, and the order of various shots as revealed by variant shirt color between edits. He admits that most of his findings could be considered continuity errors but asks: “how many such errors are acceptable, if any, before a so-called ‘documentary’ becomes a crafted work of fiction.”

INCOMPLETE!

If you have questions, corrections, clarifications, or further information, please use the Superbunker contact form or email donkeytime at superbunker

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