High Scores Arcade Museum of Alameda and Hayward is debuting its latest handbuilt game – a one-of-a-kind (actually two) cabinet featuring the Nintendo classic Super Smash Bros. Melee reimagined as a glittery, glistening electric pink 1980s arcade machine built for competitive 4-player brawls!
It’s the first time anyone can play any Super Smash Bros. game at an arcade, and the latest museum piece for High Scores Arcade– who deliver annual original arcade releases as part of their game preservation mission, including last year’s popular Oregon Trail cabinet and the glistening golden The Legend of Zelda machine. The games hit the arcade floor the first week of June in advance of the summer season.
“SMASH is one of those rare multiplayer games for consoles that successfully brings the spirit of being in an arcade home- it invokes that same excitement for me as when I first played Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 4-Player arcade with my best friend Anthony back in Trenton, NJ when I was 12” says Shawn Livernoche, co-owner of the arcades with wife, Meg.
True to their collection and prior custom builds, the Livernoche’s designed the cabinets through the lens of 1980’s aesthetics, echoing the spirit of early Nintendo arcade releases. A critical feature of the cabinets is the use of original GameCube controllers, a clear preference among competitive players.
“SSBM is a beautiful, energized Nintendo spectacle of chaos and control and it always belonged in the arcade! There’s no better controller to play it on than the one from the original GameCube. We knew our biggest challenge in the design was going to be making those two truths complement instead of contradict each other” Livernoche says.
The Livernoches commissioned Denver artist Sam Bahman of Rewind by Design to build the cabinets and design the never-before-seen artwork. “Every detail of these cabinets is entirely made from scratch, by hand. The speaker grills feature the Smash Bros. logo, backlit with LED lighting. The control panels are engineered to securely house four GameCube controllers. Once the fabrication was complete, I began the three stage automotive paint process for a deep, maximum shine” says Bahman. “It was important to Shawn and Meg that the character styles matched the 80s look to fit the aesthetic of the cabinets. It was a challenge considering the characters encompassed a twenty year span, but overall I think we nailed it” he explains.
Smash Bros. has a 20-year history, which comes with one of the largest and most dedicated fanbases in video games today. The franchise was recently reinvigorated with the release of the wildly popular Super Smash Bros.Ultimate for the Nintendo Switch, selling 13.8 million units in its first four months since release. Still, Super Smash Bros. Melee, released in 2001, remains one of the top competed-on versions ever created and a fan favorite, which is why the High Scores team has chosen to honor the title with its own arcade release.
Founded in New Jersey in 2010, High Scores opened its first California museum on Alameda’s Park Street in 2013. Upon applying for zoning clearances, the Livernoche’s quickly learned that Alameda had an archaic arcade ban on the books enacted in the early 1980’s as fear took hold of America’s parents. Using their passion for game preservation, and the arcade’s historical place in the evolution of a now-enormous video game industry, the Livernoche’s opened High Scores as a museum, rather than an arcade, something they’d done prior when facing similar laws at their first New Jersey location. Here, they teach customers the history of the games on the floor, expose new generations to early titles and, each year, build their own contribution to their 150+ game collection. The annual feature is an homage to pivotal games in history that never saw an arcade release.
High Scores celebrates 6 years in Alameda and 3 years in Hayward this year and operates on wristband admission with all games set to free play ($6/hour or $12/all day). The husband and wife operated arcade museums boast a rotating 150 private game collection and have become go-to destinations listed on many “must see” lists, including “Top Ten Museums in the Country” in USA Today (2015) and recipient of numerous “Best of the East Bay” awards. The arcade has also been featured in national outlets like Yahoo!, AAA Via Magazine, US News & World Reports, IGN and the San Francisco Chronicle.