Doc Robot K-176. A series of monstrous robots whose skills, attacks and even weakness change radically depending on which program is installed. Just when you think you’ve cleared all 8 robot master stages in Rockman 3, these guys jump out of the shadows and take over 4 of the sections you thought you were done with. Emulating the abilities of the 8 fallen bosses of the previous installment, Doc Robot provides an unexpected and difficult challenge at the midway point of the game.
The Rockman & Rockman X Daizukan had this to say about Doc Robot on page 74:
Possessing the capabilities of all robots!
Doc Robot K-176
By swapping out the program data of all the robots Dr. Wily has constructed, this robot is able to adapt other robots’ moves as its own. With the powers of all robots combined into one, this is truly one dreadful robot.
That passage makes it sound like Doc Robot could emulate any robot’s patterns, though it’s only ever been shown for him to take on the programs of the second batch of Wily Numbers. If these robots are so powerful, why not make a bunch more of them then? In Hitoshi Ariga’s manga stories, the author suggests that the resources required for making such high-end robots were so extraordinarily costly that Wily only ever made 8 of them. Page 65 of the Rockman 7 & Rockman X3 Chouhyakka also points out another of the flaws with this all-in-one omni-boss system:
Doc Robot K-176
This all-purpose robot can take on the same abilities of every other robot merely by switching its program data. Still, if it just copies the powers of robots that Rockman has already been able to defeat, one might expect for Rockman to overcome them again…
Of course, that line of thinking never stopped Wily from arranging all those robot master rematches, or from constructing the similarly-themed (but far more minimalistic) all-purpose robots seen in Rockman 10‘s Wily Archive boss battles.
Doc Robot’s name in Japanese is pronounced and written as Dokurobotto (ドクロボット), a portmanteau of “dokuro” meaning skull and “robotto” meaning (what else?) robot. His skull-shaped face goes well with Dr. Wily’s general skull theme, certainly befitting of being one of his toughest and most versatile creations. This robot’s very body seems to be like a cybernetic skeleton, waiting for the ghosts of the past to inhabit and come alive once more.
Looking closely at the in-game graphics for Doc Robot below (obtained from Sprites, Inc.), you can see that Doc Robot’s color scheme for the original 1990 Rockman 3 doesn’t quite line up with the colors in the official art seen above.
The 1994 Rockman Mega World version of the sprite matches a lot better, so you might think this was due to the rushed nature of the game, or the palette limitations of the FC. It turns out though, that Doc Robot originally had a different color scheme–and even a slightly different name. Found in the Rockman Character Collection on page 41:
Doc Robot MK-2
A universal combat robot, capable of performing a diverse set of attacks by changing its program.
So now the NES’s red and gold color trim makes more sense, but what about that MK-2 business? If that’s Mark 2, what happened to Mark 1? Did they confuse his name with the Yellow Devil MK-II, or was the “2” a reference to Doc Robot’s use of the robot masters from the second game? Why was the color scheme changed later on?
And it wasn’t just the name and the coloring that experienced some changes, either. Doc Robot’s design itself underwent several revisions before the final design was selected. Some think the basic form of Doc Robot was based on the Pirate Robot (also sometimes called Dokuro Robot or “Skull Robot”) from Dragon Ball. The image to the left was a rough sketch drawn by Inafune and published in R20 on page 207, showing a more simplistic Doc Robot with a different torso design and scarier-looking eyes. A couple more concepts were published in 2010’s Rockman Kai Special Booklet and examined by Sera of Tetukuzu Okiba (who composed and did the original animations for Airman Ga Taosenai/Can’t Beat Air Man).
Doc Robot (Rockman 3)
Unused Design Proposals
These are unused designs for Doc Robot, that really tough enemy that shows up after the 8 bosses are defeated. He used attacks from the bosses of the previous game Rockman 2, so that’s probably why you can see parts resembling those of Metalman, Airman and the others mixed in. Those kinds of little details are hard to portray in dot graphics, so I bet that’s why the design wound up getting simplified. (Sera)
The design on the left looks like a decked out armed-to-the-teeth combat robot, complete with an arsenal of weapons like a spiked buster and claw arm, back-mounted drill and cutter attachments and waist-clipped grenades. The design on the right is a mish-mosh of parts from the RM2 robot masters like the legs of Bubbleman, the chest of Airman, arm parts of Woodman and Crashman, one shoulder “blade” from Metalman, and the boomerang helmet-horns of Quickman. The final design does feature some generic elements from both these concepts.
For more information on Doc Robot, why not try A Critical Look at Mega Man 3 Stages: Doc Robot K-176, or check out your local library.