Our next Trading Card Spotlight features Arda Ocal who is displayed on card number 2813, from the Superstars of 2018 Collection.  Arda is a broadcaster whose resume includes ESPN, NHL, WWE, MSG Network and many more. From being the weather reporter or a report for championship games, Arda has been all over.  An avid Video Game fanatic, he hosted and participated in the 2017 NHL 94 Championship in Las Vegas.  He was successful in his very first world record attempt.  

What are your opinions about today’s generation of video games?  How do you compare them to older, classic games?

What I appreciate about retro games is that there was a big limitation when creating them: the challenge was, “make a fun game that people will want to play over and over while dealing with limited memory space, graphics and functionality”. That’s what makes games from the 8 and 16-bit era, that you can still play and enjoy, so impressive.

Today, the possibilities are endless: games evolve at such a fast rate. In 1985, Mario was a crowning achievement. In the foreseeable future, we could literally be playing Mario in Virtual Reality. Zelda: Breath of the Wild is just mind boggling in terms of how complete and vast it is. It has to be in the conversation of greatest video game ever made.

Did you ever think when you were younger you would be on a Video Game Trading card? 

Not for a second, and I’m honored that you have chosen me to be on a card! When I was a kid, I would draw Super Mario levels on lined paper. I had like 100 pages of levels created. I wish I had them, because I would have recreated them in Super Mario Maker.

What is your favorite portable gaming device and why?

The Switch. To me it’s what the WII U should have been. A console you can play at home or on the road. Perfect merger of the two. The Switch nailed it.

Do you prefer PC or Console gaming and why?

Console. Especially retro games.

Do you remember your first video game / arcade you played and what do you remember about it?

I had an Atari and I remember playing games like Missile Command and Yars Revenge and enjoying them. But definitely my first deep memories of video games were the NES and Super Mario Brothers 1: playing it for hours on end. I’ll never forget that sense of accomplishment when I finally beat the final castle, and that was before I discovered the warp zones.

At the Arcade it started with Pac Man, but everything changed when I discovered Street Fighter 2. I would spend every quarter I had playing that at my local convenience store. Definitely still today my favorite arcade game.

What games today do you play and what are your favorite genres of games?

I’ve put in about 200 hours on Zelda: Breath of the Wild. I’ve kept up on every Super Mario release: Wii, U, Odyssey, etc. I play Puyo Puyo Tetris almost every day, especially when I’m deep into a podcast or audio book I want to listen to while doing an activity. My fiancée picked up the SNES classic (driving an hour to get it! That’s love), so we’ve been playing Super Mario World together.

If you could own one arcade game or pinball game, what would it be and why? 

Pinball game would be World Cup 94, I always loved the “Scoring on a moving goalie” mechanic.

Cabinet would be Street Fighter 2: Hyper Fighting. Or Ms. Pac Man.

When did you first meet Walter day and where was it at?

Walter reached out to me through my public Facebook account and offered to make my card, which was very nice of him to do!

Which console company is your favorite and why?  Nintendo, Sony, Sega, or Microsoft?

Nintendo. Mario has immense nostalgic power and new releases have fun new additions. The gameplay is always great. I get excited for the future of Zelda as well. Nintendo’s use of their IP has been terrific. I’m also a massive Mega Man fan, the original 6 are must own for me at all times.

How does video game music influence games past and present?

It’s huge! In my opinion, Mega Man 1-6 has the best library of music, start to finish. Just outstanding melodies. But Breath of the Wild has the best soundtrack for one game. That was another reason I felt that 8 and 16-bit games had charm. The musical options were so limited but became so iconic. Everyone can hum the “Zelda theme” or the “Super Mario theme” by memory.

Do you prefer playing video games alone, against friends or online against the world and why?

Usually either with friends, the better half or myself: lately I’ve been playing Street Fighter online, but the lag is a drag (#drseuss)

Which company makes the best games and why?

Capcom is a personal favorite, with the Mega Man series, Street Fighter, Resident Evil… all solid franchises. Nintendo, other than Zelda and Mario, has Punch Out, another one of my favorites.

Do you learn anything from playing video games?

Absolutely: reaction time and problem solving are just two things you can learn from video games.

Do you like it when Hollywood makes a movie from the video game?

I don’t mind it, they aren’t always my jam. I maintain the worst game in the Street Fighter franchise is Street Fighter: The Movie, where it was a weird attempt to be Mortal Kombat without the fatalities that just didn’t work at all.

Who is your favorite video game character and what makes that character special?

I’ll say Mega Man, because he’s badass. Beats a boss, takes their weapon, uses it on other enemies, has a dog as a trusy sidekick, fights the evil tyrannical Doctor, all while amazing music with killer riffs is playing!

Do you find boss battles to be the best part of a video game?

Not always. Sometimes exploring the levels are just as fun if not more entertaining.

What is your favorite singe player game and favorite multiplayer game?

Mega Man, Punch Out or Breath of the Wild for single player, NHL 94 or Tetris for multi player (I guess Tetris can count as a single player for me also)

If you can design your own game, what would it be about and who would be the main character?

I’d say some sort of hockey game, but when I hosted and did commentary for the 2017 NHL 94 World Championships in Vegas, I was put in the game, so that was a dream come true! I think I’m good with this 🙂

Of these five elements video games, which is the most important to you and why?  Gameplay, Atmosphere, Music, Story, Art style

Gameplay for sure: that’s the steak and the rest is sizzle. If the game play is bad, nothing else matters. A game might have incredible graphics, a compelling story and catchy music with detailed cut scenes, but as soon as you start playing and the controls are lagging and it’s counter intuitive, it goes from 100 to 0 in about 3 seconds. Gameplay is by far most important.

Are you still involved with gaming today, and what role do you play?

I host, moderate and participate in panels at many retro gaming conventions. I feel like one day I will write a book about something video game related. I also put positive thoughts out there that I one day become the voice of a video game character. That’s definitely on my bucket list.

Where do you see Video gaming in the next 20 years?

Being able to play future releases of all your favorite games and characters in virtual / augmented reality. I can see you putting on a VR helmet and literally becoming Mario in the Mushroom Kingdom or Link in Hyrule. I can see us playing games vaster than Pokémon GO on our phones, where we are even more deeply immersed. To me it’s inevitable. Working in sports, I also wonder how VR/AR will affect the experience of consuming sports.

Todd Friedman Todd Friedman (390 Posts)

Todd Friedman is heavily involved in the retro gaming community and has co-promoted the Video Game Summit in Chicago, IL for the past 16 years. He also has published 2 books and written for various different gaming magazines including Old School Gamer.