A Brief History of Armored Core and the Community

The Beginning

Armored Core has always been something of a niche in the already niche mecha genre. The original Armored Core was one of the first opportunities for mecha fans to feel like they were piloting and customizing their very own giant robot. But despite this unique formula, the game’s unintuitive tank controls, complex AC assembly, and in-game debt may have kept the series from gaining mainstream popularity, especially outside of Japan.

The players who could overlook the quirks of the Armored Core games discovered its high skill ceiling and deep customization options. And the most dedicated of these players grew tired of testing their skills and new AC designs against the AI arena. Perhaps their biggest challenge was in finding actual people to play with, let alone ones as dedicated to the game. And with the young internet, when connectivity was slow, unreliable, and not yet a standard feature on game consoles, such players resorted to mailing lists and message boards to seek competition or exchange information about the game. Some fansites even had pilot directories for those hoping to connect with others in person.

For the English-speaking AC community, enthusiasm for the series probably peaked between Another Age and Silent Line. Several community forums coexisted, where discourse was abundant, though scattered. And through these forums and message boards, various tournaments were organized by the community itself, as opposed to Japan where there were officially supported events. Match videos and other media were available, though hard to come by (and even harder to download). But aside from the geographic boundaries and technologic limitations of the time, the community was the healthiest it had ever been.

The Nexus Era

Armored Core: Nexus eventually released and brought about some scorching changes to the game and the community. Despite the welcome addition of dual-analog controls, the game’s new mechanics frustrated a lot of the long-time fans while making things even more complicated for newcomers. Nine Breaker was more of the same, and Last Raven didn’t look any different to those who already felt burned. But for some of those who stuck around, Last Raven did rekindle some of the competitive spirit from the days of Another Age and Silent Line, although this was a short-lived renaissance.

Duking it out in Last Raven
The Fourth Generation

With the release of newer generation consoles came the most radical AC iteration yet: Armored Core 4. The gameplay overhaul meant to make it more appealing to a wider audience, and the built-in online multiplayer and multi-console release made it more accessible than ever before. But as new fans came in, many older fans felt pushed out and further alienated by the changes.

Though Armored Core 4 and the subsequent For Answer finally featured a convenient way to play against others, the internet infrastructure outside of Japan at the time may not have been developed enough to have facilitated a truly competitive environment like the in-person tournaments of old. Ironically, online discussion about the new games was relatively sparse, and shortly after AC finally went online was when its fansites and message boards started dying out. The remaining communities only continued to exist because their members used to meet up and had become real-life friends.

The Fifth Generation

Following For Answer, FromSoftware pivoted back to their medieval fantasy King’s Field roots by focusing their energies on Demon’s Souls and eventually Dark Souls, which raised them to near-mainstream recognition. This shift, perhaps, was forced by the relatively poor reception of the previous Armored Core games up to this point. Then, after four years without a new Armored Core game came Armored Core V.

Once again, Armored Core V, and later Verdict Day, introduced drastic changes. In particular, the game shifted to a more team-oriented format that seemed to borrow more from FromSoft’s own Chromehounds. Game activity was incentivized by having teams fight over territories just to be able to show off their custom emblems on the game’s world map. And because each team could only accommodate ten members, joining the top teams was highly sought after.

Zoom in.
The Cost of Success

For better or worse, Armored Core V’s team dynamics introduced a new dimension of drama to the AC community that rekindled it for some time. But the bulk of this activity was from the newer generation of fans. As with the iterations before it, Armored Core V attracted new fans perhaps at the cost of many older ones who felt like the game was no longer the AC that they knew and loved.

After Verdict Day, FromSoft returned to producing games in the vein of the Souls series, resulting in more critical acclaim and commercial success than had ever been brought to them by the mecha genre. Their most recent title, Elden Ring, truly catapulted them into the mainstream. And while FromSoft had gained more fans than ever before, the subset that were AC fans first felt increasingly disillusioned.

Coexistence in the Sixth Generation

Clusters of newer AC fans, many brought in by FromSoft’s newfound popularity, gathered on social media platforms, such as Discord, Facebook, and Reddit, while some of the few remaining message boards and their grizzled members further dwindled. But the sudden announcement of Armored Core VI: Fires of Rubicon reignited interest for the series.

Coincidentally, around the time of the announcement, unofficial software had developed just enough that many of the previous Armored Core games could finally be played online. New and old fans alike could now readily interact and go back to play their preferred AC generation while anticipating Armored Core VI.

Hope for the Future

After a decade since the last Armored Core game, what may be the greatest change to the series so far is just around the corner. Armored Core VI looks to have mechanics calling back to all previous AC generations while having features that seem to have been adapted from FromSoftware’s more successful games. And while the older remnants of the AC community are cautiously optimistic, the hope is that Armored Core VI has enough common ground for everyone.


Editor’s note: This is somewhat of an update to the An Unkindness of Ravens editorial posted 14 years ago.

Update: Now on YouTube.

Armored Core Community News July 2023

One month before the release of Armored Core 6, the community is now swamped with Armored Core content and news. FromCheng of ACL has nicely compiled an exhaustive list of articles and videos covering AC6’s launch and events through his biweekly newsletter. The whole list of content can be viewed in this thread. There’s plenty of material to go through, so enjoy.

In other news, older AC sites and communities are making a revival. Much like ACU, Eternal Core (AKA AC-X), one of the older English Armored Core communities is making a comeback. It’s founder, JinX, is an OG in the space participating in the very first Master of California Armored Core tournament, and made huge contributions to the community with his online AC builders back in the day.

That’s it for this short update on things, we’ll continue our coverage as more AC news comes up.

Master of California, The Largest AC Tournament Outside Japan

Editor’s note: This story has been updated with additional anecdotes from a few OGs!

If the world of Armored Core collided with the world of Pro Wrestling, it would give birth to the legendary Master of California series of tournaments. With opera levels of drama, intense rivalries, and a cast of distinct personalities, this competition was a true spectacle of skill and showmanship. Drawing up to 50 participants, Master of California stood as the most prestigious tournament outside of Japan, captivating AC fans across the globe.

There have been a total of five MoC events, starting from Armored Core 2 and ending with Nexus. California has a flourishing fighting game community, so it was only natural that Armored Core’s competitive scene was alive here as well.

The Genesis of Master of California

Before organized grassroots tournaments, smaller AC gatherings organized by “Ravens’ Nest” popped up in various locations, including Japan. The birth of Master of California was sparked by the ingenious minds of three individuals from Southern California’s Ravens Nest in Irvine: The Watcher, Cable, and JinX. Little is known about the inaugural tournament, but its existence left an indelible mark on the competitive Armored Core scene.

August 25, 2001, 11:30AM, California State University, Fresno, University Student Union, Room 309 (funny how Armored Core 6 is going to be released 22 years later).

The first MoC tournament featured fierce battles and passionate duels. The rules for this initial tournament were relatively straightforward:

  • Platform: Armored Core 2
  • Linked play
  • Double elimination format
  • Legal cores only; no human PLUS and/or overweight designs allowed
  • 5 minute time limit per match
  • Coin toss determined the first arena, with the loser picking the next map.
  • The same rules applied for the Contraband tournament, except allowing Human Plus and Overweight designs.

Oliver Maiquez emerged as the champion, with Dante Mapanao (Cable) securing second place and Alain Maiquez (The Watcher) claiming third. The separate Contraband tournament saw Angelo, Kurt, and Dante winning first, second, and third respectively. The event’s details have become somewhat obscured by time, but its impact on the Armored Core community was undeniable; it lit the competitive spirit of Ravens in the US.

According to sources, the winners were a sweep for the Southern California Ravens, largely due to the dominance of siblings Oliver and Alain who played against each other on a regular basis. Dante, their family friend, surely managed to catch in on those sessions as well.

NorCal vs. SoCal Rivalry

The introduction of the Ravens Nest of Northern California (RNNC) into the Master of California series elevated the tournament’s intensity. The clash of NorCal and SoCal Ravens fueled a fierce rivalry, accompanied by colorful trash talking and heated duels. While NorCal Ravens boasted creative and competent pilots, the SoCal Ravens had their own unique gift for combat, setting the stage for unforgettable confrontations.

Around May 2002, after MoC1, NorCal and Socal Ravens again got together in an event called the Southern California Royal Rumble. The rivalry between the two groups led to absolute gems such as this reply to a post after the event:

Listen to this fella… *RETRACTED*, I hate to break it to ya, but Nor. Cal. didn’t look as hot as you’re making it sound. I mean none of you are BAD players, but c’mon, The Watcher, CABLE, and Angelo were whippin you guys around like rag-dolls (as well as the rest of us of course). Fact is, Judging by what I saw, Nor. Cal. will be lucky to get in the top 5 AT ALL. I mean, Kannon is great, and Juju is good. Kobel ain’t bad, and you’re nothing to sneeze at, but c’mon. Donn eats guys like you for lunch, and Kurt slammed most of you without breakin’ a sweat. Besides, you’re run and hide tactic that you were so proud of did seem to backfire rather quickly, and though I did lose to you off and on, we all know I owned a better percent of my matches against Nor. Cal., than not.
Really, though, it WAS cool that you guys cruised down. I had really been concerned for So. Cal. representation, but now, I don’t think that there is much to worry about. MoC may not be an accurate title for the tournament, more likely it’ll be, ‘The Slaughterhouse.’

laetz yo.

You can find the entire archived trash talking thread here. This leads us nicely into…

Master of California 2: The Calling

A year after the inaugural tournament, Master of California 2 arrived on August 24, 2002. Players assembled once more at Fresno State, eager to showcase their skills. The rules for this edition of the tournament were similar to the first, with some slight modifications:

  • Platform: Armored Core 2 Another Age
  • Double elimination, best of three tree structure
  • 5 minute time limit per match
  • Enemy data HUD is banned
  • Retzki Armament Laboratory was banned as a map of choice
  • Like in MoC1, coin toss to determine the starting arena. The difference being only Ocean Base, Old Avalon Area, and Ancient City are the only choices for the first arena, where the loser of the coin toss gets to eliminate one of the three for the starting map.
  • The loser of a match gets to pick the next map.
  • A lottery system was in place to determine who fought who in the brackets, done at random.

An addition to this were what the organizers called Challenge Matches, where anyone could challenge any player to a duel, and if the other party accepted, the organizer would facilitate a match between the two on the day of the tournament, with no effect on their tournament placement. No doubt this was spurred on by the rivalry between players in the community, some of whom may have had a grudge to settle.

Oliver continued his winning streak, securing another first place victory, while Angelo and Joust claimed second and third place, respectively. From a personal account of Penguin Deus, he recalled that Angelo was concerned that The Watcher was playing subpar, and that the former was annoyed with Joust‘s gimmicks (a quad running the STEALTH backmounts with the S/NIGHT sniper and a blade) leading him to tell Joust straight to his face: “a lock wouldn’t make a difference”. And it didn’t, as the results showed.

Joust, Oliver, and Angelo

The best part: a gang of Ravens on vacation from the east coast managed to record their participation in MoC2:

Sandman, Magus, and Ky Kiske

It’s as if you were there.

Some choice tournament vids of Joust playing in MoC2:

Joust has uploaded the entire library of recorded matches from MoC2, but unfortunately, most of them are set to private or are unavailable.

Armored Core Online’s First Tournament

While not part of the Master of California series, this event took place on May 25, 2003, only a couple of months before MoC3 and was a litmus test of what was to come. This was the first tournament organized by the popular website Armored Core Online, and probably the first large-scale Armored Core 3 tournament in California, attracting over 20 participants.

The rules for this tournament were as follows:

  • Platform: Armored Core 3
  • Matches were best 3 out of 5
  • Players could only use one AC design throughout the tournament
  • A lottery system was in place to determine matchups
  • A separate after-party tournament allowed the use of OP-INTENSIFY/CROW designs

Once again, Oliver demonstrated his prowess, securing first place. The whole event was a prelude to the upcoming Master of California 3, generating excitement and anticipation.

Mentos: The Freshmaker

The most striking fact was that he wasn’t even using a competitive design; he didn’t even have a left arm weapon on his winning AC, Genocide. His brother Alain also participated, but no records show how well he fared in this event. Second place went to Joust.

Master of California 3

Finally, we have a much more well-documented event. Master of California 3 continued the tradition of annual Armored Core tournaments. Taking place a month after ACO’s tournament, MoC3 took place on June 25, 2003 in the same building as the previous two MoCs.

The rules for this tournament mirrored those of Armored Core Online’s tournament:

  • Platform: Armored Core 3
  • OP-INTENSIFY, CROW stealth extensions, and the RF/220 rifle were banned
  • HUESO legs were soft-banned

The East Coast trio documented the event once more:

We are very fortunate to have found an extensive collection of the tournament footage as well. We’ve organized all of it right here:

Master of California 3 Playlist

Before we get to the results of this tournament, which was by far the biggest at more than 30 participants, we’d like you to watch the final match of the tournament. Can you guess who will win?

That’s right, it was the brothers, Oliver and Alain, again fighting for the top spot. To no one’s suprise (anymore), Oliver got the first place victory. 3rd place went to Kobel, the founder of Raven’s Haven. As a member of RNNC, he netted a win for the Northern California Ravens.

Alain, Oliver, and Kobel

The MoC3 tournament brackets can be found here.

The complete rankings of MoC3 can be found here.

Master of California 4

There are few surviving records of Master of California 4, but thankfully we have a firsthand account coming from its second place winner, Penguin Deus, from an interview in The Raven’s Voice podcast:

MoC4 brought over 40 participants, and while records of the event are scarce, Penguin Deus‘ interview outlines what you would expect. There were a few interesting moments during the tourney which we’ll leave for you to discover in the interview, particularly the Red Shirt Guy incident. As a bonus, you’ll hear stories from the California group in the same podcast. We urge you to give it a listen.

In a surprising twist, Oliver did not win the championship! His brother Alain won first place.

We’ve also organized available tournament footage here:

Master of California 4 Playlist

Master of California 5

Next to nothing was archived about the last MoC tournament, but a few choice anecdotes from TMRaven and Penguin Deus can give some insights on who won and what they used:

TMRaven: achilles won moc5 wtih 89e/fa frame using 81G/Golem as guns
TMRaven: rebelsoul took 2nd in moc5 using an lf71 ob quad using rs/gl, and GLL (Backmounts)

Penguin Deus (on the top 4 rankings): Achilles 1, Rebelsoulpk 2, Reuben 3, Booyaka 4

Beyond that, we’re spent on any MoC5 information.


And so we reach the end of Master of California’s known history. As we look to complete our coverage on Armored Core’s past, we will be exploring the AC scene in the Philippines through the tale of our very own Raven Republic.

Stay tuned for the next chapter in the saga of competitive mech combat!


MOC History

Master of California 1 website and results

Southern California Royal Rumble

Second Source for Southern California Royal Rumble

Master of California 2 website

Master of California 2 footage

Master of California 3 brackets

Master of California 3 results

Master of California 3 footage

Penguin Deus’ interview

Master of California 4 footage

Armored Core VI Story Trailer

Fresh and hot! Come and get it!

Armored Core 6 Live Demo in Japan

We interrupt our little history lesson with an update for Armored Core 6.

FromSoft is revving up the hype machine for their upcoming Armored Core 6 with a live playable demo (from what we understand) in the coming weeks. Held of course, in branches of the Yodobashi Camera retail centers, who have sponsored the earliest of Armored Core tournaments.

In addition, there will be a preview for the first 30 minutes of the game on August 18, on the official Japanese PlayStation YouTube Channel.

Sounds like the marketing blitz for the game will be starting real soon.

SOURCE: Armored Core 6 live demo schedule and locations

Raven’s Arena Korea vs Japan: Armored Core’s First International Duel

Welcome back to our series tracking down Armored Core’s rich PVP history. This time we advance a few years forward from our last entry, to the dawn of the 3rd gen era.

Throughout Armored Core history, there is one event that stands out as a landmark moment—the first official international duel between Japanese and Korean players. Armored Core 3: Raven’s Arena, a special program held on December 14, 2002, brought together formidable teams from both countries. What ensued was a clash of skill, camaraderie, and a touch of miscommunication.

The following is a summarized account of the events by Right/Light and Raptor, both from the Japanese team. We do not know the selection process for the pilots, but it’s safe to say that they were selected for their skills as Ravens.

Pictures of the article's source material.
Mr. Light and Raptor, respectively

As the Japanese team embarked on their journey from Japan to Seoul on December 13, anticipation ran high. Consisting of four skilled players—Light/Right, Raptor, Atlas, and the legendary Imori—accompanied by representatives from Famitsu gaming magazine and FromSoftware (including Armored Core series producer Kenichiro Tsukuda), the Japanese contingent was ready to make their mark. A fascinating tidbit emerged during their journey: when asked about the development team for Armored Core, Mr. Tsukuda revealed that over 50 people were involved, highlighting the scale and dedication behind the game.

Upon arrival in Seoul, the Japanese team settled into the luxurious Ritz-Carlton hotel, their home base for the upcoming battle. They wasted no time in acquainting themselves with the Korean AC teams, engaging in casual matches at local PlayStation 2 rental places. It became clear to Mr. Right that the Korean players possessed remarkable skill with blading, even capable of giving top Japanese players a run for their money. But what truly surprised the Japanese team was the Korean players’ ability to converse fluently in Japanese—an unexpected display of linguistic prowess.

Pre-fight casuals
More people playing Armored Core

The teams went back home to rest up for the night.

The following day, as the tournament approached, an unexpected problem arose. It was discovered that the standard mode of play in South Korea was Normal mode, while the Japanese players preferred the more challenging Hard mode. To the uninitiated, Hard mode gives a smaller lock box for players, with the Japanese rationale being that the lockbox in Normal mode was too big for competitive play. The organizers failed to inform the Korean team of this and a brief back-and-forth ensued until Mr. Tsukuda himself intervened, ultimately settling on Hard mode as the choice for the matches. This decision put the Korean team at a disadvantage as many of their players had never experienced Hard mode gameplay before. It was an unfortunate case of miscommunication that resulted in a handicap for the Korean players.

Both Right and Raptor acknowledged the event’s lack of fairness. Nonetheless, the die was cast, and the tournament had to proceed. Due to time constraints, there was a forced last-minute change to a team battle format between the Japanese and Korean Ravens.

The Raven’s Arena tournament had specific rules and parameters. The Korean version of Armored Core 3 was employed. Each battle had a time limit of five minutes, with opponents vying for points in a best-of-five format. Certain parts were banned, including (naturally) the OP-INTENSIFY and CROW extensions. Each player was allowed three AC designs they can swap out at any time. Design details of opponents’ ACs were concealed, and changing parts during the tournament was strictly prohibited. To level the playing field, enemy data on the HUD was banned, ensuring players had to rely solely on their skills and awareness. Wearing headphones while playing was a mandatory requirement. Furthermore, specific maps like Jungle, Blast Furnace, and Parking Lot were deemed off-limits.

The significance of the event was further highlighted by the presence of professional commentators, including JIN, the founder of Korea’s largest Armored Core fansite, “Armored Korea”. Drawing inspiration from the e-sports scene and the prevalence of Starcraft tournaments in South Korea, the organizers sought to replicate that success with Armored Core.

Preparations underway; note the giant screen on the background

Prior to the main event, participants meticulously crafted their machines in the garage. Although the rules strictly forbade players from viewing their opponents’ designs, the assembly screen was displayed on a giant projector in the background of the stage. With a keen eye, Raptor managed to catch a glimpse of some design elements of their enemies. It’s worth noting that due to the sheer size of the screen, the Korean players likely saw what the Japanese players were creating as well.

With their preparations complete, the teams engaged in a few practice matches. The atmosphere grew tense, and the anticipation among the players reached its zenith.

So here was the tale of the tape:

The Japanese team: Atlas, Imori, Light, and Raptor

Japan Team:
Satake Yoshikawa (Atlas)

  • SKYEYE, NER, REX, HUESO, WS-1, ROZ, FLEET, DD/20, side shields, RF/220, HZL50

Kobayashi Masakasu (Light)

  • MM/003, STO, MHL, RE/3003, WS-3, ROZ, SA44, DD/20, M24/2, dual missiles, chaingun, GS-56, LS-1551

Nishizawa Keitan (Raptor)

  • HUESO, OX/002, RF/220, ???, OC/15, R/24, DM24/1

Hayashi Yua (Imori)

  • ??? (possibly SKYEYE), NER, EAS, PETAL, none, ???, ???, none, none, none, none, KARASAWA, LS-1551
The Korean Team: Eakalian, Choi Hoonzo, Saga, and Zo Kang Hee

Korean Team:
Zo Kang Hee

  • Round 1 and 2: TIE, NER, MARTE, HUESO, ANA, ROZ, SA44, MARE, DD/10, M24/2, S40-1, RF/220, HZL50
  • Round 3 (allegedly named “Muscle Bastard”): 008, STO, CASK, ORDER, FLEET, WS-3, ROZ, SA44, DD/20, RF/220, HZL50

Kang In Hwang (Saga)

  • Round 1 and 4: 008, NER, REX, HUESO, FLEET, WS-1, VE905, CR10, ECM rockets, A102, HG-80, MOONLIGHT
  • Round 2 and 3: YIV, NER, REX, HUESO, FLEET, WS-1, ROZ, SA44, MG-500, MOONLIGHT, A102

Kim Min Woo (Eakalian)

  • Round 1 and 2: 008, STO, SOL, SNSK, MARE, ANA, ROZ, SA44, R20, small rocket?, OC/15, MG-500, FTL450
  • Round 3: HUESO, NER, MARTE, HUESO, MARE, ANA, ROZ, SA44, ???, small rocket?, MG-500, FTL450

Choi Hoon-Zo

  • Round 1: RACHIS, IKS, RE/GG, SHUT, ANA, ROZ, CR14, DD/20, TB-UN5, DM-24, CNG-300, GS-56, MIRROR
  • Round 2: 008, IKS, CASK, SHUT, WS-3, ROZ, KD99, DD/20, TB-UN5, slug gun, CNG-300, GS-56, MIRROR
  • Round 3: 008, STO, SOL, ORDER, MARE, ANA, ROZ, CR10, DD/10, R/24, DM-24, AD/20, RF/220

*Author’s notes: I provided part information where I could. Also, I prolly/really butchered the players’ names on both teams*

And so the battles began. Note that these videos are basically short highlight reels; not all matches were broadcast nor recorded. But it is the most amount of video we have available from the event at this time (and believe me, we looked!):

With Japanese commentary:

With Korean commentary:

As the dust settled, the Japanese team emerged victorious with a clean sweep. However, the Japanese players were quick to emphasize that this outcome should not be seen as a definitive judgment of the skill gap between Korea and Japan. The discrepancy in game modes—Korean players accustomed to Normal mode and Japanese players competing on Hard mode due to the organizer’s oversight—created an unbalanced situation. The Japanese participants commended the Korean team for their willingness to adapt and compete on Hard mode at a moment’s notice. They acknowledged the difficulty of transitioning abruptly from Normal to Hard mode and urged others not to read too much into the results of this particular match.

In the aftermath of the intense battles, both teams put aside their competitive spirits and shared a heartwarming dinner, savoring delicious Korean cuisine. A memorable moment unfolded when Raptor and his opponent Eakalian bonded over a serving of bibimbap.

Raptor: Was it good to mix kimchi in the bibimpap?
Eakalian: You can mix the kimchi and gochujang, but I won’t mix it.
Raptor: You don’t usually mix them?
Eakalian: I’m not good with spicy food *bitter smile*

Mr. Light, AC Producer Mr. Tsukuda, Raptor, and Mr. Kurusu

The remainder of the evening was spent in friendly conversation and bonding, with the Japanese team learning a few Korean words. Interestingly, the teams decided to play Armored Core once again, but this time in Normal mode. The Korean players showcased their creativity by bringing forth a wider array of AC designs, demonstrating their true potential.

Armored Core’s first official international duel between Japan and Korea may have had its fair share of obstacles and unexpected turns, but it was an event that showcased the passion and dedication of the players. It fostered a sense of unity and respect among two large Armored Core communities. As the Raven’s Arena echoed with the sounds of clashing mechs, a new chapter in the history of Armored Core began—a chapter that would forever be remembered as a testament to the enduring spirit of competitive gaming.

In the next article, we dive deep into one of the most storied grassroots tournament series the game has ever had: Master of California. Stay tuned!


Archive of Raptor’s account of the event

Mr. Right’s account of Raven’s Arena, Part 1

Mr. Right’s account of Raven’s Arena, Part 2

Archived footage from Luna477’s YouTube account

YOU, the Original Dominant

Why are you banned?

forsaken: Because I cheated in a CS:GO tourney

FaZe Jarvis: Banned from Fortnite because I literally hacked and filmed it for millions to see

YOU: IDK I’m just too good

Have you seen this AC? If you’ve played the Ex Arena in Armored Core: Master of Arena’s 2nd disc, under the “Champion” category, you probably have.

It turns out, there’s a man and a story behind this AC—a glimpse into the earliest days of Armored Core tournaments and the people around it.

Who is this person with the callsign “YOU”? A man who was so good at Gen1 Armored Core that he was banned from participating in Armored Core tournaments for winning consistently. He was so good that he was bestowed the title of “Irregular” by his peers, and as you saw, cemented his legacy by earning a spot in AC:MoA’s Ex Arena.

Denfaminico Gamer was able to track YOU down for an extensive interview about his life as a Raven. The following is a summary of that interview.

A Head Start

YOU’s extraordinary journey began in the early days of Armored Core, where he swiftly made a name for himself. In total, he won a staggering nine official tournaments across the first and second generation Armored Core games and was a force to be reckoned with. However, it was his participation during the lifecycle of Armored Core: Project Phantasma that solidified his legendary status.

When asked about his ban from Armored Core tournaments in the PSX era, YOU confirmed the rumors, explaining that he was asked to step aside after his fourth tournament. FromSoftware sought a fresh champion, and deemed his unparalleled success as a hindrance to the tournament’s diversity and excitement. Eventually he was able to rejoin the tournaments, winning again when Armored Core 2 and Armored Core 2: Another Age were released.

Unconventional Tactics and Unforgettable Moments

Throughout his career, YOU developed a reputation for employing unorthodox strategies and mind games to gain an edge over his opponents. His mastery of the game’s meta allowed him to remain on top. He intentionally chewed gum during matches to distract his adversaries. He was also known for surprising his competitors by announcing one AC design before a tournament, only to arrive with a completely different one on the day itself—an unpredictable tactic that often caught his opponents off guard.

YOU also shed light on the inner workings of Armored Core tournaments during his prime. FromSoftware would send letters to participants, and a lottery system determined who would compete. A minimum of 16 players were required for a tournament to commence. In recounting these events, he revealed that the first-ever tournament was sponsored and organized by the renowned Yodobashi Camera Corporation. This first tournament, which happened to coincide with his birthday, saw him triumphantly declaring victory as his greatest gift to himself.

The Path to Greatness

During the interview, YOU delved into his origins as an Armored Core enthusiast. Initially introduced to the world of mecha combat through the PSX title Vehicle Cavalier, he quickly became captivated by Armored Core’s limitless possibilities. A desire to create effective PVP designs and tactics fueled his passion, pushing him to invest countless hours into honing his skills. With modesty, YOU attributed his success not to innate talent but to unwavering dedication and practice, often logging five to eight hours of gameplay per day, with the interviewer commenting it is not unlike how an athlete trains for a sporting event.


The Unbreakable Friendships

While the competitive scene could be cutthroat, YOU acknowledged the friendships he formed during his Armored Core journey. These bonds, often forged through battles and shared experiences, provided him with a lifeline when the pressures of constant victory threatened to consume him. He emphasized the significance of these relationships, recounting heartwarming anecdotes of sharing post-competition ramen sessions with fellow Ravens. These communal moments, where individuals from different backgrounds gathered to bond over their shared love for Armored Core and local cuisines served as a powerful motivator for him to continually push the boundaries of his abilities.

Reflections on Triumph and Humanity

As the interview drew to a close, YOU reflected on the mental toll his pursuit of victory had exacted on him. The weight of his “Irregular” title became suffocating, causing him to hyperventilate under the immense pressure to always emerge victorious. However, it was the intervention of a concerned teammate that led him to question the true value of relentless triumph. It was through this introspection that he finally discovered the joy of Armored Core beyond the competitive realm—a joy found in simply playing for the love of the game.

The Legacy of a Legend

Immortalized in Armored Core: Master of Arena, YOU managed to leave a permanent legacy in the history of Armored Core. From his meteoric rise, to his ban from official tournaments, and finally, to the profound friendships he fostered along the way, his journey is a testament to the lasting impact of shared experiences and the power of camaraderie forged by competition. While Armored Core may have catapulted him into the annals of gaming history, it is the connections he made that he cherishes above all else. Truly, Armored Core proved to be the conduit that linked him to lifelong friends, forever enriching his life.

Today, YOU is just coasting through life, surrounded by family and friends. He’s jumped into figure modelling and is a fan of Girls und Panzer. He looks back at his glory days and wonders if his story might be unearthed by his children one day.

And yes, he still possesses the skills of an Irregular:

The last word of the interview may be the finest (machine translated):

My life changed when I met “Armored Core”, and I am grateful to Mr. From and the Ravens who played against me. I never thought I’d be interviewed after 20 years, but I’m happy to have this opportunity and it was fun.

Thank you very much today!

Thank you, YOU for being a legend. His experiences resonate to many of us who have met in real life because of Armored Core. And so to that end, thank you too, FromSoftware, for creating the game that brought us all here together.

For those who are curious, his old Armored Core website is archived in the links section below.

Thus concludes the first part of our series covering various Armored Core PVP moments in history. Stay tuned for part 2!


We talked to the legendary Raven who became an “Official Irregular” because his “Armored Core” was too strong

Web archive of YOU’s Armored Core Website, Arcadia

YOU’s Twitter account

Editor’s Note: Name has been redacted as per request of YOU. Sorry about that!

A Prologue to Armored Core’s Storied PVP History

Step into the midst of the red-hot plasma jet debris and prepare to be captivated by the tales of legendary battles fought between Ravens, NEXTs, and mercenaries from a bygone era. Let me transport you back two decades, to a time when Armored Core PVP demanded the same level of anticipation as a first date—one that would forever be etched in your memory.

Yearning for True Adversaries

Cast your mind back to the late 90s, to an era when mobile devices only offered basic talk and text features, 1GB of RAM was deemed impractical, and the Sony PlayStation reigned supreme. Armored Core had just made its debut on Sony’s gaming behemoth, and as you overcame the challenges posed by Nineball and Phantasma, a craving for more exhilarating battles took hold.

Or maybe it was in the early 2000s, when you were among the fortunate few who acquired a brand-new PlayStation 2, eager to delve into the console’s hottest launch title: Armored Core 2. You vanquished Leos Klein, dominated the arena, collected all the parts, and emerged as a formidable force against the AI.

Yet, with the urge to fight burning inside you, the absence of worthy adversaries left a void. In those days, you only had two options: relying on the fortuitous presence of a family member or friend who shared your passion for Armored Core, or venturing into the uncharted territory of online matchmaking, cautiously hoping that your opponent had genuine intentions and wasn’t simply after your kidneys.

Given that Armored Core was a console-exclusive game lacking online features, finding worthy opponents online then setting up offline meetups was the only realistic path to engage in multiplayer combat. Beyond the numerous Japanese fansites, Yahoo! searches led English-speaking players to forums and websites such as Core Dump, Core Depot, Raven’s Nest of Northern California (RNNC), GameFAQs, and a host of other smaller AC-dedicated sites.

These platforms served as digital gathering grounds, where players exchanged callsigns/gamertags, revealed their locations, and shared means of communication. In this virtual network, Armored Core enthusiasts everywhere roamed in search of fierce rivals and newfound camaraderie, albeit on a more local scale.

A Retrospective Series

In a forthcoming series of articles, we’ll embark on a journey through time as I unravel captivating anecdotes from the earliest AC tournaments to their modern-day iterations. Moreover, I will make the case that Armored Core, much like the fighting game community, has transcended its grassroots origins, and is poised to captivate audiences on the same scale as renowned fighting games.

Here’s a sneak peek of what lies ahead:

By studying the past, we gain insights to shape the future.

Embracing the Competitive Spirit

Armored Core has carved its niche within both grassroots and official tournaments, boasting a high level of competitive play. We’ll dive deep into the heart of this iconic franchise, tracing its legacy while envisaging an exciting future.

Stay tuned for a trip through history that will ignite your passion for Armored Core once again.