A Look Back at Armored Core 1’s Early Development

A recently translated interview regarding Armored Core 1’s development was released by Shmuplations. It gives a very good account on how Armored Core came about, and how Shoji Kawamori shaped the style that made iconic designs the franchise is known for.

Some interesting choice quotes from the interview that we’d like to clarify on:

—How did you divide up the different design components for the mechs?
Kawamori: It took a lot of time to figure out how finely we should categorize the parts. There were programming limitations to consider, as well as game balance issues. Currently, we have the core torso unit, the arm unit extending from the shoulder to the hand, the option for weapon loadouts on shoulders (left and right), then the head and lower body units.

The lower body unit, in particular, has a wealth of options, from bi-pedal human type legs, to avian-style joints with reverse articulation, and even four-legged mechs and tank-tread types. In the beginning, we’d planned even more categories: the arm alone would have been comprised of three units (a shoulder, arm, and hand unit). But that would have been WAY too much work. (laughs) And the potential combinations would have become truly astronomical then.

Interesting that Extensions became a thing in the PS2 era, when technology finally allowed them to take one smaller step to their initial ideal version of Armored Core design. Maybe From can reach out into its deep past and add those arm and hand weapon mounts this time.

—You said there was a lot of trial and error, but at what point did you ask Kawamori to do the mecha design?
Karasawa: We created a prototype with a robot, and once that was moving and able to fire missiles, then we started to see how this would shape up as an action game. That was when I contacted Kawamori. We don’t have a “mecha expert” among our internal staff at FromSoftware, so the mech design at that point looked like dolls constructed from cardboard boxes. (laughs) However, although the mechs looked crappy then, the movement itself was well done, and I thought it would be a shame to waste that on lame designs, so we decided to contact someone who could make the mechs look right.

The early, pre-Kawamori designs can be seen in Armored Core’s (very early) PV right here:

“Armurrred Cuorrr… In the summer of ’97 you will meet your makurrr…. yurrrself!”

Read up on Shmuplation’s whole translated interview here, it’s an interesting read for sure.

Thank you Nix for sharing the interview, and special thanks to Hellhound 13th for archiving Armored Core’s first PV.