You’re Coming With Me: Robocop In Games – Part One

Well, now that I have taken a look at Robocop on the big and small screen (in two parts) in my previous retrospective, to celebrate 35 years of the first RoboCop flick. I am now going to tackle the digital version of the character and look at Robocop in video games. From games directly based on the films, ones ‘inspired’ by the films and even some unofficial Robocop games that were better than the official ones. Well, I guess I’d better start at the very beginning. Oh yeah, an advanced thanks to any YouTubers and video creators that I link to for gameplay, all credit to them for the videos.


The first RoboCop game was based on the first film… funnily enough. Released in 1988 from Data East. This was actually a sub-license game between Data East and Ocean Software, with Ocean handling the home port versions, which I will cover later. Anyway, the arcade game was part beat ’em up, part shooter, all action (they should’ve used that as a tagline). Using the basics of the plot from the film as its backdrop (the game takes place in 1990 even though no year is mentioned in the film). Set over seven scrolling levels, with a couple of target practise stages thrown in for bonus points. You don’t even go after Clarence Boddicker and his henchmen, they’re not even in the game, just a brief mention of cop killers in the intro. You go after Dick Jones at OCP… while killing dozens and dozens of bad guys along the way.


I can even remember the first time I played this in the arcades. It was during a school trip to France and we were on the ferry crossing the English Channel. The ferry had a very small arcade with about 4 or 5 machines in it and RoboCop was one of them (it also had Operation Wolf, After Burner and P.O.W.: Prisoners of War). I had recently watched the film on VHS too as the home release of the film and the arcade game were both in November of 1988, though I think the France trip was early 1989, if I recall correctly. Anyway, the thing that impressed me about the game was its little intro that showed RoboCop pulling the gun from his leg. I remember telling my friends on the ferry at the time that it was just like the film, as they hadn’t seen it at that point. The speech samples, effects and even digitised images on the high score table were all taken from the film itself. and I recall being really impressed.

It played well too, hard as fuck mind you and I don’t think I ever got past the second level in the arcade. But on that ferry trip to France, I spent all my time in the small arcade and while some of my friends were throwing up due to seasickness, I was happily pouring 10ps into RoboCop. The return trip from France was crap though as it was a different ferry and it didn’t have RoboCop on it.


Later that year in 1989, RoboCop got various home ports from Ocean. These were a lot like the arcade version, but with a few added extras. My older brother had an Amiga 500 at the time, so that was the port that I played first. It was an okay port, playable if a little slower than the arcade version but with some added bonus stages like the photofit suspect thing and the first person ‘shoot the rapist’ bit from the film. Yeah, it was an okay port, not as good as what the Amiga was capable of at the time though. I believe the Amiga version was just a port of the Atari ST version, which is why it’s not as great as it could’ve been if it had been built for the Amiga from the ground up (sorry Atari ST fans, but it was an inferior machine).

There were several different ports for the home market. The ZX Spectrum version is a massive highlight. Graphically, it is very ‘Speccy’ of course. The music was awesome and used for a TV ad here in the UK. Gameplay-wise, it was amazing. It played a little differently from the arcade original and Atari ST/Amiga port. It had fewer levels but some of the levels were a bit more ‘open’ in that you could slightly explore them. It was a tough game though as it added limited ammo to your base weapon, so you had to be careful not to waste any shots. But the Speccy version was awesome and it stayed in the ZX Spectrum charts for a year and a half… that’s pretty impressive even now.

Other home ports included the Commodore 64, which apparently had a major bug in it as when you reach level 7, the game’s graphics are completely corrupt. The C64 port was also notoriously hard, to the point where it was pretty much impossible to play. It has been suggested that the game was made so damn hard as to put people off and stop them from reaching the very bugged level 7. I mean, look at it…


This version just was not finished properly and was farted out quickly to help with sales of the VHS. Even the loading screen on the C64 version advertised the video release of the film. A fixed version was released later though. Give this a click if you want to see the Commodore 64 version played through from start to end with no bugs. Also, just take in the high score table that the programmer included… I’m pretty sure that is some kind of indication that the game was forced out unfinished.

The NES version is also worth looking at, as it is very different. While it still has the basic scrolling, punch/shoot bad guys gameplay from the arcade, it’s a completely different title. All of the home ports were done by Ocean Software, except this one. RoboCop (NES) was a whole new game (not a port) built from the ground up, it was also developed by Data East themselves, who did the original arcade version. The NES game follows the film a bit closer than the other ports too as the levels are based on scenes from the movie such as City Hall, the warehouse drug den and the junkyard/factory. You even actually go after Clarence Boddicker, unlike the other versions where you just go after Dick Jones. The presentation is better too with a detailed intro of who RoboCop is and little cut scenes that vaguely follow the of of the film. A playthrough of the NES version is right here. There was a Game Boy version too and this one was more like the arcade original.


Of all of the various versions of RoboCop that I have played though, I think the arcade original was the best. It may have lacked some of the ideas and features that the home versions had and some of them may be arguably ‘better’, but the arcade game’s gameplay is just pure nostalgic fun. If I ever fancy a quick game, I’ll always go for the arcade original over any of the other ports. Even today, it still plays well

RoboCop Pinball

Oh yeah. Data East didn’t just make the arcade game, they also released a RoboCop pinball table in 1989. Now, I was never much of a pinball player. If I was in an arcade, I’d be much more inclined to be pouring my coins into the RoboCop arcade machine than the pinball one. I think pinball is fine, it’s just not my thing, so I never actually played this one to tell you what it was like. I did find the following description though:

“Robocop is a fun filled pinball with many appealing features. An exciting jump ramp shot which sends the ball flying through the air at the top of the playfield, spot targets, eject holes, multi-ball, captive ball, and a host of other pinball standards such as spinners, thumper bumpers, and roll overs all serve to keep play exciting. Couple that with voice call outs based on the movie sound track and a catchy musical theme that will keep you humming all day, and you will see why Robocop is a great playing and sounding pinball machine.”


Feel free to click on the header link to see this one being played too, thanks to tattyadams on YouTube. From what I have read though, this was a really good pinball table and those who’ve played it always seem to speak very fondly of it.

RoboCop 2

Much like the first game, RoboCop 2 from 1990 also had multiple versions for different platforms that were different games. The first one I ever played was the Amiga version though. Just speaking on a performance level, this was far, far superior to the Amiga version of the first game and showed what the machine was capable of. Bigger and more detailed graphics, faster gameplay and even a lot more interesting gameplay too. The basic scrolling, shoot bad guys gameplay from the first game was in the sequel, but it had been built on to add more depth. Platforming was included, having missions and sub-missions added to the gameplay and the levels were much more open and explorable.


There were only three levels to play, but they were pretty big levels that offered a layer of freedom. Intercut with digitised images from the film and bonus stages, RoboCop 2 on the Amiga was not a huge game at all. But then again, nor was the first arcade game. What you did get was a massive step up from the Amiga port of the first one and a title that showed how much better the port of the original game could’ve been, if it had been made specifically for the Amiga and not a port of the Atari ST version. Just for a comparison, here’s the Atari ST version of the same game and I think you’ll agree that it was ‘lacking’ when compared to the Amiga one.

The Commodore 64 version of RoboCop 2 was a mix of the first game and the second one. The levels were linear as with the first game, but it featured the nuke collecting and hostage rescuing from the other versions of RoboCop 2. I never played this one as we sold out C64 before 1990 to buy an Amiga. There was even a ZX Spectrum version and from what I can tell, it was pretty damn good too. This one was more like the Amiga and Atari ST games over the Commodore 64 one. Open and explorable levels and all that. For the Speccy in 1990, this was massively impressive and far better than its C64 counterpart.


Of course, there were NES and Game Boy RoboCop 2 games. The NES version was a far superior version, graphically and gameplay-wise, of the C64 game. As for the Game Boy’s take on RoboCop 2. In typical Game Boy fashion, it was a ‘chunkier’ version of the NES game. You know what I mean. Graphics that were too big that took up too much of the small handheld screen, which makes seeing what is going on a pain. A few changes to fit the game on the smaller carts, etc. All told, the Game Boy version wasn’t bad… not great either. Very typical Game Boy fare. All of these versions were developed by Ocean Software.

Data East, who developed the arcade version of the first game, also made an arcade RoboCop 2 that was released in 1991. Being an arcade game, of course it kicked some serious bum-cheeks. This one played more like a scrolling beat ’em up… with a gun, over the more shoot ’em up-like first game, even though you spend 90% of this game shooting. It followed the film pretty closely too and the action took place in locations that you’ll recognise if you are a fan of the film. Even the gang hideout with all the Data East arcade games. You can even smash up Data East games in this Data East game. The best part of that level is the fact that the RoboCop pinball makes a cameo appearance in the background. Aside from the usual side-scrolling stuff, there are third-person shooting and first-person vehicle sections. You could even play two-player co-op. Yes, two RoboCops!


The arcade version was shallow but satisfying stuff and great fun in two-player… even if it didn’t make any sense having two RoboCops. I mean… Lewis, why do all of these games forget that RoboCop had a kick-arse partner? I do suggest that you seek this one out though of all the various versions of RoboCop 2, this is the most fun and here’s a two-player playthrough for your eyes too. The Amiga and ZX Spectrum titles are also worth playing… the NES version if you really, really want to. The others… not so much.

RoboCop 3

Here we are again with very different games released on multiple different systems. I do kind of miss those days. Nowadays, if a film has a game released based on it, pretty much all platforms get the same game. Back then, you could have three different machines with three different games based on the same IP. Despite being the first version I played, I’m saving the Amiga game until last here… for a good reason too. So first, I’ll take a look at the 16-bit games and the SNES version.


The SNES version was released in 1992 and the film in 1993. Yup, the game was released before the film because (as mentioned in my film retrospective) RoboCop 3 had a delayed release due to the production studio going through bankruptcy. This one went back to the more linear and simple style of gameplay of the first film. Basic scrolling and shooting everything that moves. RoboCop 3 on the SNES followed the film pretty closely, it even had the bit where that annoying kid turned ED-209 ‘loyal as a puppy’. There were vertical scrolling shooter sections that used the jetpack from the film too. If there was one thing this game was known for, that would be its punishing difficulty. See, it was one of those ‘not very long, so let’s make it had hard as possible’ type games. It also was not very good and featured very uninspired gameplay.

There was a Mega Drive version too and it managed to both look better and worse than the SNES title. They both played pretty much the same though. Both basic and lazy shooters with stupid difficulty because it was a very short game. Neither of these 16-bit console games are really worth seeking out, they are just very okay at best.


Unbelievably, there were versions on the NES and Master System. I mean, these machines were pretty much obsolete by 1992/3 when the Robocop 3 games were released as the 16-bit consoles were taking over. First up, I’m going to take a look at the Master System game, even though it came out after the NES one. Anyway, RoboCop 3 on the Master System was a diluted version of its 16-bit brethren. Honestly, this was a better game than either the SNES or Mega Drive ones. Obviously, not as appealing visually, but it just played so much better. This is still not a great game but I would pick it over either of the 16-bit renditions.

The NES game was very different though. Still with the basic scrolling and shooting thing, of course, but now with that very distinct NES look and feel. The NES version was even shorter than the others, you had to repeat one level twice… so it is far shorter than it first seems. No vertical shooting sections here but you do get a horizontal jetpack level. The version also had you having to repair RoboCop between levels, which isn’t in the other games. Overall, this RoboCop 3 was very NES, you’ll know exactly what I mean if you play it. There was a Game Gear RoboCop 3 too, this was just the Master System version on a  smaller screen.


Even more unbelievably that there were NES and Master System RoboCop 3 games… there were Commodore 64 and ZX Spectrum ones too. The C64 game was pretty good, for the time anyway. A mix of first-person shooter, scrolling and jetpack levels, oh and the repairing thing from the NES game. Seriously, for the Commodore 64, this was really bloody good and it kind of embarrasses the 16-bit versions when it comes to gameplay, especially on a far inferior and even more redundant machine. The ZX Spectrum version was a lesser game than the C64 one but they were pretty much the same thing.

And now that all of those versions of RoboCop 3 are out of the way, I can talk about the Amiga version (also released on the Atari ST and DOS) because honestly, it was pretty damn bold and impressive. You don’t get a bog-standard scrolling shooter as with all of the 8 and 16-bit games. Oh no, you got something that pushed exactly what the Amiga could do. This game was developed as the film was being made, with the idea to release both at the same time. However, the producers of the film were not exactly forthcoming with details of the film (did they already know how shit it was?) for the devs of the game to follow. Aside from some behind-the-scenes stills, storyboards and vague plot details, the game devs had very little to work with and they had to make a lot of stuff up. So while this is based on RoboCop 3 the film… it kind of isn’t at the same time.


Anyway, RoboCop 3 on the Amiga was far and away from the scrolling arcade shooters of the other versions. This was a 3D action game with multiple, various gameplay styles. Look here’s a playthrough for you to watch that would save me a lot of time and effort describing… but I’m still going to do just that anyway. So there were two modes to pick from Movie Adventure and Arcade Action. Arcade Action let you play any of the game’s levels in any order as one-off missions. Movie Adventure, you still had the same levels and now you followed the basic plot of the film. Also, what you did on those missions would affect the others and the game gave you choices to make too.

The various gameplay styles included a Chase H.Q.-like driving section where you would have to ram the bad guys (why RoboCop didn’t use his gun, I have no idea). First-person shooter levels where you had to kill enemies and try not to shoot the hostages. A jetpack flying stage and even a bit of a beat ’em up type thing was thrown in too. The driving sections took place in a semi-open world environment giving you the freedom to drive anywhere you wanted. The first-person shooter bits were very maze-like and had you killing splatterpunks (seriously, that was the best name they could come up with?) whilst not shooting hostages and trying to save Lewis in one level, or escaping into the sewers and even tracking down McDaggett in the motel, just like in the film. The jetpack level was like a stripped-back flight sim (the game’s engine was a modified version of the same one used for F29 Retaliator, same devs too). Then the final level was a kind of a 3D beat ’em up bit where you had to take out the ninja robot from the film… and it was utter arse, easily the worst part of the game. Still, it was only that ninja section that was a letdown as everything else was pretty damn great.


The fact that the game used 3D polygons (with some sprites) meant that you could change the camera and while most of the other views were pretty pointless, looking left or right when in the car was awesome as you got a good look at RoboCop. The scenes between the levels were pretty impressive too and while not using digitised images from the film (because of the film studio’s secrecy) the devs put their own spin on them and did a great job too.

Seriously, this game was far better than it honestly had any right to be. Don’t get me wrong, now in 2022, RoboCop 3 has not aged well at all and you’d probably be better off playing one of the other versions. But in 1991 when it was released? RoboCop 3 on the Amiga was unbelievable. Developed by Digital Image Design, they did a phenomenal job with everything, especially when you consider that the film studio were being top secret with a lot of the details of the film. RoboCop 3 on the Amiga was groundbreaking, pushing 3D gaming and it certainly offered the player an amazing experience, especially when compared to the other versions of the game on other machines at the time. But the main reason I wanted to talk about this version was for its now-infamous copy protection. Oh man, how I love this story.


See, back then, software piracy was rife and studios were always trying to come up with new ideas of how to stop pirates from copying their games. Ocean, who published RoboCop 3 on the Amiga, had an unbeatable copy protection, so they claimed. Before the game’s release, they made several boasts in various gaming magazines about how their new copy protection just could not be cracked. Ocean claimed that their new way to beat the pirates had 50 separate layers of protection and that they gave RoboCop 3 to one of their programmers and asked them to crack it… they couldn’t. Even with a two-week time frame, they only managed to crack one layer of the protection. This thing really was uncrackable So how did this copy protection work? Well…


Now, I am not the most tech-savvy person around, so this is how I understand the copy protection from my point of view. RoboCop 3 came with a physical electronic key, a dongle that you had to put into the second joystick port. The dongle would run a series of checks to ensure that the game you were playing was a legit copy. If you didn’t have the dongle because you had gotten hold of a pirated copy (or even if you had a genuine copy and no dongle), then the game just would not load.

Now, the thing about the Amiga was that it had a very dedicated and (obviously) underground legion of crackers all over Europe. The Amiga piracy scene was massive in the 90s and there was a network of crackers who had set up their own little groups that would copy and send out games all over the place. One such group was called Fairlight and if you were a big Amiga fan back then, that name (and the following picture) will spark off a wave of nostalgic memories. Now, at this point in the story, I really would be no surprise if I told you that Fairlight cracked RoboCop 3. What is a surprise is how quickly they did it.


Bearing in mind that Ocean said it was impossible, that they had given the job of cracking the game to a professional programmer and they could only break one of the 50 levels in two weeks. So then, how long did it take Fairlight to crack the game, a couple of weeks, months, a year? Nope, it took them five hours. I’m not going to go into details of just how the dongle worked and how Fairlight cracked it because, as I said, I’m not the most tech-savvy person… but five hours to crack an uncrackable game. After that five hours of cracking and within 24 hours of the game being cracked, copies were being sent all over Europe to Amiga fans, who would copy it themselves and so on. Oh, and this was before the game was even officially released too. By the time RoboCop 3 hit shop shelves, it was already in the hands of and being played by many Amiga owners all over Europe.

The funny thing is that if Ocean had not made such a big deal about this copy protection, then the crackers most probably wouldn’t have taken it on in such a big way. I’m not saying that RoboCop 3 would never have been cracked, of course it would’ve… eventually. But I don’t think the crackers would’ve seen it as a challenge and perhaps it would’ve taken longer than five hours, maybe six? Ocean kind of screwed themselves in that regard and they should’ve just released the game without all the bluster over their unbeatable copy protection.


After that lengthy look at the first slew of RoboCop games and a little history of RoboCop 3 on the Amiga., I’ll take a break here and split this article into two, as there are still are quite a few more titles that I want to take a look at in the next part.

Dead Or Alive: A Robocop Retrospective – Part Two

Well, this certainly turned out to be a longer article than I anticipated, to the point where I had to split this into two parts (part one here). First up RoboCop as a live-action TV show…. oh dear…


No, this wasn’t a remake of the original film but a live-action TV series. Originally airing in 1993-94, this show only lasted for 1 season and 23 episodes. ‘Technically’ 23 episodes, I should say. The pilot was basically a feature-length episode that was later split into two parts but counted as 1 episode. I have to admit to being a little confused as to where this sits in the timeline. It seems to be a direct follow-up to (or at least based on) the first film and it also seems to ignore the sequels… but its tone and style are much more in line with the kid-friendly RoboCop 3 film. There is no over-the-top violence that those first couple of films were known for, there’s no swearing or even the slightest sniff of any adult-themed content. According to, this show takes place 5 years after the events of the first film.


Plus most of the characters of the original film have had name changes. Murphy/RoboCop is still here but Lewis is now Lisa Madigan, as an example. Sgt. Reed is Sgt. Parks, even Murphy’s wife and kid were renamed, I believe the name changes were a rights thing. The producers got the rights to the RoboCop character to make this TV show (and other elements of the character) but not the rights to other characters from the films. I really do not know how that works out, how can you get the rights to use RoboCop… but none of the other characters? To make things even more mysterious, this show uses footage from the first film. The flashbacks that show Murphy’s ‘death’ include Clarence Boddicker and his gang, with all of the original actors too. There are clips from Murphy being taken into hospital and more taken directly from the first film. So they secured the rights to use footage, the Murphy/RoboCop character and so on, but none of the other character names? I mean, they reshot scenes of Murphy’s death to replace Anne Lewis with Lisa Madigan as his partner. So this is a direct sequel to the first film then… but everyone changed their name (and face)? Honestly, this makes no sense.

What is rather interesting about this kid-friendly show is that the pilot was written by RoboCop’s creators, Edward Neumeier and Michael Miner (or at least adapted from one of their film sequel scripts). They actually okayed this, they willingly put their names on it. So it must be worthy of the original film… right? Originally, the producers even tried to get Peter Weller to return and reprise the main role. However, he showed zero interest, so they cast Richard Eden as Murphy/RoboCop instead. You know what? Eden is actually a pretty decent RoboCop. But this show suffers the same issues that RoboCop 3 had. The actor was decent enough, he just had shit scripts to work with. Which does bring me to the meat of this show.


Again, this TV show decided to be more kid-friendly, à la RoboCop 3. Episodes featured villains that RoboCop would take out using non-lethal means. Plus all of the bad guys felt very 1960s Batman TV show. I mean, one of the main villains was called ‘Pudface’, so that will give you an idea of the quality here. In fact, the whole show has that 60s Batman kind of a flavour to it. The leaders of OCP are played up for laughs, instead of being the cutthroat corporate bastards that they were in the first film and so on. RoboCop even gets a really annoying kid sidekick called Gadget… because of course he does. This really is more like a live-action version of the previously covered animated show, over the movie it was based on. By now and after the release and failure that was RoboCop 3, the franchise was a bit of a laughing stock anyway, so there really wasn’t a great deal of expectation for this TV show. In that regard, this is a very typical 90s kids/early teens cop show.

RoboCop (the TV show) is a very, very ‘meh’ effort. But, to be honest, I never really expected much from it at this point in the franchise. The episodes are a bit cheesy and the villains do feel very pantomime for the most part. RoboCop feels more like a kid-friendly superhero here than a bad-ass cybernetic cop from the first film. This is the kind of show that would be on before a film, early Saturday evening. So you’d put the TV on ready to watch the said film, only it hadn’t started yet and this was on. But you just couldn’t be arsed to change the channel, so you’d just watch this while waiting for the film to start.

RoboCop: Alpha Commando

And so here we are, the second animated version of RoboCop. Again, I have no idea where this is supposed to sit in the timeline. Lasting for just 1 season but a whopping 40 episodes, airing between 1998 and 1999. I don’t know if this is a sequel to the previous animated show or a stand-alone thing. Many of the writers on this also worked on the other animated show, so there is that connection at least. It does have an awesome theme tune with some of the greatest lyrics you will ever hear though… honest.

You already know the score by now. Lots of lasers, bad puns and non-lethal means to stop the villains… who are typical 90s animation bad guys. Nothing like its source material and an even more kid-friendly version of the ultra-violent film. Very much a standard 90s kids cartoon with plenty of ‘tude’… RoboCop even has inline skates and calls women ‘babes’! Really, this has even less to do with the source material than anything else before it, that’s including RoboCop 3. The only returning character, other than Robo himself, is Sgt Reed (so it’s connected to the film series then?). Lewis even isn’t in this and there is no explanation why either (so it’s not connected to the film series then?). The art style is also a load of shit. I mean, look what they did to RoboCop…


RoboCop: Alpha Commando is strange, to say the least. Save for the main character and Sgt Reed, this has nothing to do with any RoboCop lore before it. Seriously, this could very easily have had a different title character and still been the exact same show. Even the other animated show connected to the first film and had Clarence Boddicker and his gang, it had other returning characters and while it was massively toned down, it was still connected to the first film. This show though… nothing. The other animated RoboCop show wasn’t great, but it was somewhat watchable and at least recognisable as being a spin-off of the film. That other one even had kid-friendly messages about racism and such, it even addressed Murphy’s humanity. This one has RoboCop falling into a janitor’s closet and having a bucket end up on his head. RoboCop: Alpha Commando is more like an updated version of Inspector Gadget than a Robocop-based show. This feels more like a parody of RoboCop than something that is supposed to be an official addition to the character. Of the two animated shows, I’d suggest you avoid this one and give the first one a chance instead. That first one wasn’t great, but it wasn’t this either.

RoboCop: Prime Directives

So now we have a TV mini-series, released in 2001 and was somewhat of a return to form, to be honest. Now, don’t get me wrong. I am in no way saying that RoboCop: Prime Directives is on par with the first or even the second film. But it is a massive step up in quality from what came after those first two films. This was actually four feature-length episodes: Dark Justice, Meltdown, Resurrection, and Crash and Burn. Now, I’m not going to go over all four episodes individually but just go over Prime Directives as a whole.

First up, this takes place 10 years after the events of the first film and works as a direct sequel to the original that ignores events from the sequels. This is also another one of those ‘strange rights’ things as the production company of this didn’t have the rights to use footage from the film… even though the 1993-94 live-action show did, when that re-wrote the characters to be all new and unconnected to the first film. They also couldn’t use ED-209 as that character has its own copyright too. RoboCop rights really are a bit weird. Well okay, there is some footage from the first film in one of the episodes but it’s been slightly altered and not shown how it was originally screened. I don’t know if that was done to get around copyright.


Anyway, even though this is a direct sequel to the first film, the only returning character is RoboCop. After some digging around, it appears that Lewis did exist in this universe but she died before the events of this mini-series are shown. How she died is not known and it (supposedly) isn’t connected to her death in RoboCop 3 at all, she’s just dead in this timeline. Other character disappearances are not addressed. It’s been 10 years since the first film, people move on I guess?

The basic plot of RoboCop: Prime Directives revolves around RoboCop being obsolete and how a new RoboCop is created. Yeah, it does sound a bit like the plot of RoboCop 2 but it’s also very different and very much does its own thing with the idea. The four episodes can really be split into two acts the first two episodes focus on the older and newer RoboCop as they battle it out, only to later decide to team up and take on the big bad of the series. The last two episodes follow the two RoboCops as they do what they do and clean up the streets and take out Dr Kaydick, who is threatening to destroy all known life with his ‘bio-tech’.

Look, I’m not going to sit here and say that RoboCop: Prime Directives is a well-written piece (or four pieces) of TV but compared to anything post-RoboCop 2, this is fucking Shakespeare. In terms of tone, it kind of hits the middle ground between the violence of the first two films and the kid-friendliness of the first live-action TV show. Some of the bad guys that RoboCop goes up against can be a bit ‘pantomime’ but at the same time, the character kicks some arse. In the opening 10 minutes of the first episode, RoboCop shoots someone in the head… with a bullet too and not some kind of non-lethal device, then another person gets blown up when a bomb strapped to his chest is shot with a mini-gun. This is a violent TV show, not as graphic as the original film and you don’t see blood spraying everywhere, though there is blood in the series, it is used sparingly.


The way it is filmed is darker and grittier too, miles away from how the other TV show looked and felt. Along with the violence, there is swearing. Like the violence, it’s not terribly graphic but there is some swearing. You won’t hear anyone screaming “fuck me, fuck, me, fuck me” over and over, but you will hear the odd ‘shit’, ‘son of a bitch’, ‘bastard’ and so on. Speaking of bastards, that is how the OCP executives are portrayed too. Not the comic foils they were in the other TV show but more hard-nosed and ruthless. Plus the satire of American culture is back It has a lot of what the first two films featured… just not as well implemented. Page Fletcher plays Murphy/RoboCop and he’s pretty good in the role. He’s no Peter Weller but he ain’t too bad at all. Fletcher plays the character similarly but his movements are faster and more urgent.

Overall, RoboCop: Prime Directives is actually pretty decent. Okay so it’s not original film great, but it is certainly far better than anything from RoboCop 3 onwards. If I had a gripe, then that would be that with the four episodes being over 90 minutes each, they can drag on a little bit. An edit to bring the total runtime down to 4 hours would be great as there are some scenes that seem overly long for no reason and other scenes that seem very redundant. Plus, there are times when you can tell that the budget for this that wasn’t great. I can’t blame the show for not being big-budget, it’s a TV show of a franchise that was all but dead at the time.


The show even delves into Murphy’s history a bit more before becoming RoboCop. There are a few continuity errors given that this is supposed to be a direct sequel and it’s a shame they didn’t (or couldn’t) use other characters other than RoboCop as this really could’ve been lifted higher with the addition of Lewis, etc. Generally speaking, RoboCop: Prime Directives is watchable, even pretty damn good in places. After going through the entire RoboCop franchise for this article, it’s nice to end on something that’s not too bad and proof that given a better budget and more care, a RoboCop TV show could work. Oh yeah, it’s not quite the end yet, is it?


I guess it had to happen at some point, the dreaded remake. Now, I’m not somebody who has anything  against remakes, generally speaking. Remakes can be good and I honestly welcome the idea of seeing a different take on a story and characters that I enjoy. Still, I am fully aware that remakes can be and usually are fucking terrible. Even so, I did go into this version with an open mind and on paper, it really had a lot of promise. There are some great actors in this, Gary Oldman, Michael Keaton, Samuel L. ‘mother fucking’ Jackson. The trailer looked good too, not great but good.


So this one is a full-on remake of the original. Through the franchise, we have had film sequels, animated TV shows and live-action TV shows that have both worked as direct sequels and alternate timelines. But this was the first and proper full remake. Released in 2014 with Joel Kinnaman playing the title role. Originally, the RoboCop remake was due to come out in 2010 with Darren Aronofsky on board to direct… which could’ve been amazing as Aronofsky is a wonderful director. However ‘creative differences’ had Aronofsky leave the project and the film was delayed. So why did Darren Aronofsky leave? Because he wanted to make a hard adult-themed film in line with the original, whereas the studio wanted something more ‘bankable’… or PG-13 (mainly because the studio were having financial difficulties at the time). So Aronofsky was out and after a delay or seven, José Padilha was brought in as director instead, while Aronofsky went on to make Black Swan.

Anyway, as mentioned, what we got was a ‘safe’ PG-13 take on the notoriously violent RoboCop. Okay, so this wasn’t as toned down as some of the other projects, like the third film, the animated shows and the live-action attempts… but this still felt very diluted. And it wasn’t just the lack of violence either as this version completely missed out on the subtle humour and satire that the first film was famed for. Overall, RoboCop (2014) is very dull. In terms of being a remake and judging it as a remake, it’s okay at best. In terms of being part of the RoboCop franchise, it is piss poor and a wasted effort.


There are things that I do like about this version. There are some great performances all through the cast. The likes of Gary Oldman, Michael Keaton and Samuel L. ‘mother fucking’ Jackson are really enjoyable here, even if their characters aren’t very interesting, their acting is worth it. Then there is Joel Kinnaman playing Murphy/RoboCop, he’s actually really good too. Some of the updated tools that RoboCop has do make a lot of sense, like being able to connect to (basically) wi-fi and search for police suspects. But then there are parts that make zeros sense, like RoboCop having non-lethal means to take out the bad guys. That’s something from the toy range and RoboCop 3 when they wanted to make the character more kid-friendly and PG-13. RoboCop, as a character, isn’t, nor should he ever be, kid-friendly.

The plot is devoid of any depth. Just going back to the first film, on the surface, it is just a film about a cyborg going out for revenge. But it is also a film with a lot of layers to it when you really explore it. There is a reason it is still talked about and revered 35 years later. Here, there is nothing but a bog-standard action flick to sell to the masses with little to no depth. There is no battle with Murphy’s humanity because they changed the character from not knowing who he is, to knowing exactly who he is. Worth a watch… as in singular. This really is a shame too because a more satirical and deeper Robocop remake that was aimed at adults could’ve been awesome.

Other Appearances

That is all of the main big and small screen appearances of RoboCop, but the character has popped up elsewhere in some very strange instances too. So here, I’m just going to sum up a few other notable times that RoboCop has ‘entrained’ us over the years. Outside of the usual novels and comic books attached to the franchise, RoboCop has appeared in some very strange places since the first film was released. From meeting an ex-president of the United States to selling noodles and insurance. Here are all of the curious appearances of RoboCop that I could find.

RoboCop met Richard Nixon. Yup, this actually happened. Just think about that for a second. RoboCop, who is known for upholding the law (it is one of his directives) meeting one of the most famously crooked politicians/ex-presidents in American history. You may think that sounds stupid (it does), you may think it never happened and that I’m just making it up, but…


… it happened alright. So then, the big question is ‘what the fuck?’. Well, after some digging around I found out that this picture was taken in 1987 by Chuck Pulin. For those that don’t know, Pulin was famed for his shots of rock stars in the 60s and 70s. It was a charity event and the meeting of RoboCop and Nixon was done to help promote the VHS release of the first film. It was published in the December, 1987 edtion of Billboard Magazine and the caption under the photo read:

Richard M. Nixon is escorted by RoboCop at a national board meeting of the Boys Club of America. The RoboCop character was on hand to call attention to Orion Home Video’s RoboCop RubOut promotion. Sweepstakes tickets, packaged with each “RoboCop” cassette, offer a number of instant prizes for retailers as well as $25,000 in donations to the Boys Club. The sweepstakes is part of a $3 million promotional effort launched by Orion in conjunction with the action-adventure film’s video release. The cassette will be available in video stores beginning Jan. 28 for a suggested list price of $89.98.

As you can tell from the photo, that’s not the ‘real’ RoboCop (as in, that’s not Peter Weller). The suit looks like something that a drunk cosplayer would knock up in 10 minutes. It’s fucking terrible and proof that they were bastardising the character long before RoboCop 3 existed. Still, RoboCop meeting Richard Nixon is pretty ‘out there’… and that’s not even the strangest thing RoboCop has ever done.

RoboCop teamed up with some Marvel heroes. Long before the MCU was even thought of, RoboCop was already kicking arse with some of Marvel’s biggest superheroes. Okay, so he didn’t so much kick-arse as he just pulled a lever. Still, you really want to see RoboCop teaming up with Captain America, don’t you? Well, it all happened at the Macy’s Day Thanksgiving Parade in 1987. But why? Well at the time, Marvel had secured the rights to use RoboCop for their comics. A series of RoboCop comics were released in the 90s but before those, there was a comic book adoption of the film released in 1987 from Marvel. So anyway, for a while, Marvel had the RoboCop rights… so they put him in a Thanksgiving Day parade with Marvel heroes, logic? It is a very quick ‘blink and you’ll miss him’ appearance but here it is and it all happened using the theme from Back to the Future because?

So then, after teaming up with some of Marvel’s finest, where can RoboCop go from there? Saving Pee-wee Herman, obviously. Oh yeah, before Pee-wee Herman (Paul Reubens) was caught playing with his pee-wee in a porno cinema, he was attacked by ED-209 for RoboCop to come and save him. No, this isn’t some deluded fever dream I had, this really happened at the 1988 Oscars. Just as Pee-wee is about to present an Oscar, ED-209 bursts into the theatre and begins shooting at Pee-wee as he starts to fly… yes fly. RoboCop turns up and shoots ED-209 with his left hand… even though he’s right-handed (the things you spot where you’re a big RoboCop fan) with some very questionable effects work. And then… hang on, why the bollocks am I describing this to you when you can watch it right here?


RoboCop even did a bit of professional wrestling… kind of. Capital Combat: Return of RoboCop was a one-off PPV event at some wrestling thing held in 1990. Look, I don’t watch wrestling, I have no idea what this is or what the ‘eff was going on. There was some kind of backstory thing and one of the wrestlers put another one in a cage. RoboCop turned up and ripped the cage door off its hinges (read: lightly pulled the fake and obviously unlocked cage door of a fake cage) and that was it. The best bit was when RoboCop accidentally opens the cage when he was clearly not supposed to… to then pull the door off its hinges even though it was open. Basically, RoboCop 2 was set for release and so this event was set up as a promotion for the film. Click this link to see the few seconds of RoboCop’s short wrestling career. He doesn’t even do any wrestling… in a wrestling event named after the character. They filmed a short promo for it too if you want to watch it.

So now, I have a few Asian ads that make little sense in their own right and feature RoboCop to make far less sense. I don’t have exact air dates for these, but I’m pretty sure they all came from the 90s. First up RoboCop killing bugs. There really is little to say here other than that there must be very little crime in Japan (I think it’s Japanese) if all RoboCop has to worry about is CGI bugs. Next up, RoboCop advertising GoldStar (now LG) TVs. I have no idea what was going on there but I’d definitely buy a TV from RoboCop. This next one could be the most bizarre ad yet… and that’s saying something. Do you want a TV ad where RoboCop comes out of a TV, eats some fried chicken and then steals a fridge? Of course you do, click here. I think this one is Korean and aside from the very, very shiny and chrome RoboCop, did you hear what was playing in the background? It’s not very loud but listen carefully with the volume turned up… that’s the Back to the Future III theme. After the 1987 Thanksgiving parade using the BttF theme, I have to ask why is RoboCop stealing BttF music?


Then we have RoboCop advertising instant noodles… cos you know… Asian. There were actually a series of these ads, I don’t know how many there were in total, but here’s a video of two of them. I did find a site claiming that these ads were from the 80s. However, a copyright pops up at one point that clearly says “RoboCop 3 1992”. Though RoboCop 3 was released in 1993, it was meant to be released in 92 but was delayed when Orion Pictures went through Bankruptcy. So I assume that these ads were originally made to help promote the original 1992 release of the film? Oh yeah, I also found someone selling the RoboCop eclectic toothbrush that was made to help promote the noodles, as shown in the last ad.

This last ad (so far, before a slight break), also from the 90s, didn’t feature the official RoboCop, nor was it Asian. But I just really had to include it here because it’s so fucking stupid. I mean, fake and rose-pink ‘RoboCop’ going to buy a new exhaust (I am English) for his car? Then a ninja appears for no reason and fake RoboCop does nothing other than praise the price of his car part. Two thumbs up for its utter nonsense.


From 1993 was RoboCop: The Ride. Not based on any of the films, but it was released to coincide with the release of RoboCop 3. This was one of those ‘sit down in a chair with loads of other people and get thrown about while looking at a big screen’ type of rides… or a motion ride, as they are called. This one popped up in several places like the Granada Studios Tour in Manchester. It also appeared in Texas, California and a few other places. The basic plot of the ride was you tagged along with RoboCop, as a new recruit, patrolling Detroit. The mayor is kidnapped and you have to save him. It was a mix of live-action and CGI sections. There’s a good video that takes a deeper look at the ride right here. But footage of the entire ride does not seem to exist. Now for an all-star cameo featuring a T-Rex (presumably from Jurassic Park), Darth Vader, Ferengi from Star Trek: The Next Generation, a Cardassian soldier from Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, G.I. Joe and yes, RoboCop. From the 1995 film, The Indian in the Cupboard, this little snippet is a cornucopia of popular character cameos at the time.


Alright, let’s have a few more RoboCop TV ads before I end this retrospective. Once more, there were a series of these ads, how many in total? I have no idea. But what is RoboCop pushing onto punters now… KFC, obviously. We already know he loves his fried chicken following that Korean ad previously. But now, he’s taking on the king of fried chicken with the Colonel himself. Here’s a link to a collection of the KFC ads. This KFC ad campaign seems to come from 2019, that’s pretty recent. What I love is that they blended both the famed Colonel Sanders and RoboCop to make Colonel RoboCop, as if the Colonel died and was bright back as a cyborg. Even better… that’s Peter Weller. The original RoboCop actor back playing the character that made him famous. Now, I’m pretty sure that’s not Weller in the suit, he would’ve been around 72 at the time. But it has been confirmed as being Peter Weller’s voice.

The last RoboCop ad (so far) was as recent as 2020. It was for Direct Line insurance. Playing RoboCop this time was Derek Mears, a name that you may not recognise, even though he’s played some of cinema’s biggest characters. Mears played Jason Voorhees in the 2009 remake of Friday the 13th, he played a Predator in Predators from 2010 and he was also the title character from the 2019 Swamp Thing TV show.


For the final RoboCop appearance, I just want to quickly look at a statue. A more than 11-foot tall, 2.5-ton bronze statue of RoboCop was made and it took 11 years too. Here is a video of its reveal and an article looking at its making. Basically, the statue was made because Philadelphia had a Rocky statute and someone on Twitter asked why doesn’t Detroit have one for RoboCop. Over a decade later and RoboCop finally had a massive statue made. Originally set to be placed outside of the Michigan Science Center, Detroit in 2021… it never was. As of writing, the statue is in storage with it set to be publicly placed and unveiled elsewhere in Detroit this summer.

And that is ‘yer lot for Robocop on the big and small screen… and some wonderfully bizarre appearances. There was been a lot of talk of a direct sequel to the first film coming out. Called Robocop Returns, the film is said to have a completed script that has been penned by Edward Neumeier and Michael Miner, who co-wrote the original film together. Neill Blomkamp was originally attached to direct but he left the project in 2019. Abe Forsythe then came on board as director… and then the whole covid thing happened and it has been very quiet on the Robocop Returns front since then. News on the film is non-existent (or top secret) and I have no idea if the project is moving ahead or not, as of writing this article.


I hope it does though, the idea of a new sequel that ignores most of the franchise to create a new timeline is something that worked with Halloween. I’d love to see a new Robocop flick and seeing as the remake was utter arse-gravy, the franchise needs to get back to its roots. It would be great to see Peter Weller return in the lead role too… but perhaps not in the famed suit itself. Weller is (as of writing) 75-years-old. I really don’t think he’d be up to playing the character again, at least not physically. But there have been some great leaps forward in digital technology these days. They could get a younger actor in the suit and have Peter Weller’s face digitally added, with Weller providing the voice too. I mean, he did come back to advertise KFC. That is, of course, if Robocop Returns ever does go ahead.

Well, now I have covered everything about Robocop in terms of TV and film, time to take a look at some games.

Dead Or Alive: A Robocop Retrospective – Part One

The awesomely violent and rather multilayered Robocop turns 35-years-old this month. Originally released on the 17th of July way back in 1987, happy 35th birthday to Robocop. Seeing as this is one of my favourite films, I guess I have to write something. So, I’m going to be looking at some Robocop video games in another article. But here, I’m going to explore Robocop on the big and small screen, everything and yes, I’ll even cover the TV shows too… along with some rather surprising appearances at the end. Starting off, chronologically, with the first film.


Part man. Part machine. All cop. RoboCop was one of the first films I ever saw on our own VHS player. I was about 13-years-old at the time and I remember being really shocked at the swearing in the film. Younger me had heard swearing but just not that much and that frequent. That fella robbing the store in the film and screaming ‘fuck me, fuck me, fuck me’ over and over almost made me want to cover my ears… almost.

Directed by Paul Verhoeven, co-written by Edward Neumeier and Michael Miner, Robocop possibly began life as a possible Judge Dredd film. You can see a Judge Dredd influence in the final film but the story goes that writer Neumeier began penning the story as a Judge Dredd film but could not secure the rights, so he then changed it to an original character instead. I say ‘possibly began’ as a Judge Dredd film because I can’t seem to find any concrete evidence that outright states this, just user-submitted ‘trivia’. Still, Edward Neumeier is a self-confessed Judge Dredd fan. Also, there was the early test sculpt of the RoboCop suit…


… yes, that one. Very clearly Judge Dredd influenced but still not proof the film itself was originally a Judge Dredd one. I’m leaving this tit-bit as inconclusive.

But anyway, getting back to the film. Director Paul Verhoeven first thoughts of the film were that it was utterly stupid. Apparently, he only read the first few pages of the script and then threw it in the bin. The idea of a robot/human police officer hybrid was something that Verhoeven just could not get past and he failed to see a film worth directing. His wife, Martine, took the script from the bin and read it herself. She then convinced Verhoeven to read the script properly as it had a lot more depth to it than he first realised. As Paul Verhoeven recalled himself:

“She read it in a completely different way: she felt there were elements that weren’t so far away from me, like [Murphy] losing his past, and the philosophy of losing your memory. … Even my films in Holland, if they were about a war, none of them were action movies. I was more interested in the philosophical underpinnings of the script. I saw RoboCop a bit like a futuristic Jesus.”

That really is the key with RoboCop, it does have a lot of layers and a lot of depth. Yet, you can misunderstand it as just being a stupid sci-fi action flick. Just going back to 13-year-old me watching the film on VHS. That was how I saw it. RoboCop was just a ‘naughty’ film with a lot of swearing that looked cool. But when I watched it as an adult, the film seemed so different… but still with a lot of swearing in it and that it looked cool. The layers on RoboCop really are impressive. You’ve got your satire of American culture and Reaganomics. Those funny little TV ads within the film take on a very different meaning when you realise what they are poking fun at.


Then you have the central character of Alex Murphy (Peter Weller) himself. The fact he loses everything, including his memories, and is just used as a ‘product’ by a massive corporation. His humanity is thrown aside so some slimy corporate executive could climb the ladder. Which does bring me to the Bob Morton (Miguel Ferrer) character and ‘father’ of RoboCop. He’s a slimy snake in the grass for sure… but the way Ferrer played him made him a very likeable guy. He was a bad guy with a heart and one that did actually care for his creation. Speaking of bad guys…

Man, I adore Clarence Boddicker (Kurtwood Smith) and he is one of cinema’s greatest villains. The slightly nasally voice, the ‘Heinrich Himmler’ glasses, the one-liners. He’s a complete dick and has zero redeeming characteristics… but you can’t help but love him. A good film needs a great villain for it to work and RoboCop has one of the best. Officer Lewis (Nancy Allen) was used as the connection between RoboCop and Alex Murphy. The ‘Murphy, it’s you‘ scene really is one of my favourites in the flick. The way that RoboCop does that literal little step backwards and becomes Murphy for just a second or two, before snapping back into RoboCop and continuing on. It’s the really subtle acting that sells it. Acting that must’ve been tough for Peter Weller when we the audience can’t see his face. For an actor to convey emotion and reaction… without having the luxury of using their face is damn tricky.


Which does bring me to the main man himself and the one who gets the big job of carrying the weight of the film on his shoulders. How Weller pulled off playing the titular character is incredible. I’ve read stories of just how damn uncomfortable it was to act in the RoboCop suit. Apparently, it took 11 hours to get Peter Weller into the suit the first time. They got better over the course of the film shoot but it still took a good few hours. Then he couldn’t go to the toilet easily, or at all. It was so damn hot that Weller would lose around 3 lbs a day via sweating. Yet, even with all of that, he still put in an amazing performance and one with so many layers and facets. Look, I’m more than 1,400 words into this retrospective, I’ve only briefly looked at the first film and I need to move on. I could most probably write a huge and in-depth article just on RoboCop alone, just not now.

Still, I really do love this film. Paul Verhoeven’s directing is sublime and RoboCop is a film that I have grown up with. From 13-year-old me watching this on VHS and being shocked at the swearing to 46-year-old me peeling back the layers and enjoying this film for its depth and (sometimes not) subtle digs as 80s Americana and culture. In the middle of all of that, you have this story of lost humanity and one of the best acting performances you’ll ever see in an 80s sci-fi flick.


What do you do when you have an overtly violent and very adult-themed film? You make a kid’s cartoon out of it, of course. Honestly, this was a bit of a trend in the 80s and 90s, taking an obviously adult-focused film and turning it into kid’s entertainment. Be it a cartoon, TV show or even kid’s toys, there are loads of examples of this happening back then. I mean, in the 80s, you could buy officially licenced Freddy Krueger pyjamas for kids to wear… just think about that for a second.


This animated show only lasted for one season and 12 episodes. Originally airing in 1988, a year after the film was released. I mean, they didn’t even wait for the film franchise to begin and get stale before they turned into a kid’s show. RoboCop (animation) was released when the film was getting its home release. The film had been an unexpected hit and work on a sequel was already underway by then but why wait for a proper sequel when you can make a kid-friendly cartoon ‘sequel’ instead? RoboCop (animation) does follow the events of the film quite a lot but it also changes things up a fair bit. For example, Murphy is still killed by Clarence Boddicker and his gang to become RoboCop. But Clarence Boddicker and his gang are actually still alive in the cartoon. Lewis is in this too as are a few of the film’s characters. No Bob Morton though (well I guess he did die in the film) and Dr. Tyler is his creator. Now, Dr. Tyler was in the film but as a very minor character. Look, I could sit here all day and point out the differences between this cartoon and the film it is based on but I need to look at if the show was any good or not.


I never watched this show back then. In fact, I only watched it recently just for this retrospective. It’s kind of like a kid-friendly retelling of the first film that (obviously) replaces the violence of its source material with morals and lessons for children. Guns don’t fire bullets, they shoot lasers… ‘cos kids love lasers. It’s that kind of thing, very typical Saturday morning cartoon fare. None of the film’s actors reprise their roles but it’s not like you’re going to miss them here anyway. The voice cast are actually pretty decent, for a kids cartoon. When watching RoboCop (animation) for this retrospective, I tried to put myself in the shoes of teenage me and work out if I would’ve watched it back when it originally aired. I reckon I would’ve. A bit of Teenage Mutant Ninja (or ‘Hero’ as they were called here in the UK) Turtles, some Spider-Man, a portion of Rude Dog and the Dweebs and a helping of RoboCop on a Saturday morning. Yeah, I think I would’ve gotten into this.

It is very obviously massively diluted from the film but as a kid’s cartoon, it is pretty good. Some episodes even deal with more ‘adult’ content, in a kid-friendly way. Things like racism, terrorism, the environment, various prejudices and so on. The kind of subjects that these types of cartoons like to force in now and then. To be fair, RoboCop even deals with the character’s humanity pretty well too. It is 12 episodes of a very typical but still a fairly entertaining show. If you want to introduce your kids to RoboCop and not worry about scarring them for life via the original film, this is a decent way to do it.

RoboCop 2

Released in 1990, this sequel saw a few of the original cast return like Peter Weller and Nancy Allen. But throw in plenty of new characters, including an ‘improved’ RoboCop 2 (title) to contend with as well as a city-wide drug problem and a Detroit running out of money. Behind the camera, director of the first film, Paul Verhoeven was gone. As too were the original writers with Edward Neumeier and Michael Miner. Sitting in the director’s chair was Irvin Kershner, with the film being written by Frank Miller and Walon Green.


There were several behind-the-scenes issues with RoboCop 2, mainly the 1988 Writers Guild of America strike. Edward Neumeier and Michael Miner began work on writing a very different and gritter sequel. But the aforementioned writer’s strike put an end to that script. So Frank Miller was brought on as writer instead and he penned a much darker script that involved corporate fascism and would explore the backstory of Alex Murphy more. Then, Walon Green was hired to rewrite Miller’s script and ‘lighten’ it, make it more fun and jokey. This new script also removed a lot of the backstory and ‘simplified’ everything. Then there was Orion Pictures themselves. With the first film, as it wasn’t expected to be a big hit, they left Paul Verhoeven to do whatever he wanted. With this sequel, the studio saw the potential of a franchise, and so they began to control everything much more tightly and perhaps played it too safe.


RoboCop 2 is a hard film to outright dislike but it is clearly a film that suffers from studio interference and horrible script rewrites. It is still ‘adult’… I guess. Yet, it had this undercurrent of trying to be broader and more appealing to a wider audience. RoboCop 2 is nowhere near as creative or deep as the first film, it’s very shallow and lacks heart. We do get to learn more about Alex Murphy and his (widowed) wife, yet it all feels very ‘off’, lacking in any real meaning. When speaking to, Peter Weller said that:

“RoboCop 2 didn’t have a third act. I told the producers and Irv Kirshner up front, and Frank Miller. I told them all. I said, “Where’s the third act here, man? So I beat up a big monster. In the third act, you have to have your Dan O’Herlihy. Somebody’s got to be the third act.” “No, no, the monster’s going to be enough.” “Look, it’s not enough!” When you have a movie like the first RoboCop, where the bad guys are never the bad guys and it’s always the morality of the thing. You know, like the idea that progress in the name of progress can steal a man’s identity. Look, the first RoboCop’s got deregulated trickle-down social economic politics in it, way before Bush and Romney and the debates with Obama and Senator Clinton. It’s got a morality to it. If you don’t have that, man, you’ve got no flick, and I said that so much.”

He was right too, the lack of a real third act thing aside, there really isn’t much of a flick with RoboCop 2 at all. The whole film is just so lacking over the first one. The idea of morality, humanity and so on are just not here. It’s a very typical ‘oh look, we may have a franchise on our hands’ type of sequel. One where the studio were reluctant to take any chances and played it safe just to make a better-looking and bigger budget film but one with very little substance. RoboCop 2 is watchable, even enjoyable at times… but it is still a pretty poor sequel. One thing I will say about this film though is that it got it right about Detroit going bankrupt.

RoboCop 3

RoboCop 2 was a flawed but still a somewhat watchable sequel. RoboCop 3 was just fucking atrocious. Third film and third director with Fred Dekker at the helm. Dekker also co-wrote the screenplay with Frank Miller. Now, in Frank Miller’s defence, his original script was said to have been far better but once he handed it into the studio, it went through several edits and changes. To the point where Miller turned his back on Hollywood and refused to write another script until 2005’s Sin City. Miller turned his bastardised RoboCop scripts into well-received comic books later. Some of the first two film’s cast returned for this sequel… but not Peter Weller, he had good taste. Robert Burke stepped into the chrome suit this time around and he’s a bit terrible. But I think that has more to do with the awful script than the actor. RoboCop 3 was released in 1993 when Orion Pictures were going through bankruptcy.


There really is very little to like here. You have a film where RoboCop is now helping homeless people and going to get revenge because Lewis has been killed. To be fair, Nancy Allen as Lewis is about the only saving grace in the whole film… and they killed her off about a quarter of the way in. RoboCop gets an interchangeable hand-thing that feels like an idea from one of the kid’s toys. He uses a flamethrower, wears a jet-pack and takes on a ninja robot from Japan. Seriously, I’m convinced that the producers just looked at the RoboCop kids toy line that existed at the time and said ‘make a film like that’. RoboCop has gone from shooting potential rapists in the dick to babysitting an 11-year-old girl who makes ED-209 ‘as loyal as a puppy’.

You know how the first film had real depth. Yeah, it was in its most basic form, just a film about revenge. Still, it had some amazing writing, characters you cared about, satire, witty observations, good acting and more. RoboCop 2 lost a lot of that, yet it did still have some semblance that could be connected to what made the original great. This film, RoboCop 3 however, is just truly heinous. This one feels like a made-for-TV movie that was being used as a vehicle for a family-friendly TV show… which I will get to soon enough. The iconic violence is gone, the excessive swearing is gone and the social satire is gone to be replaced with cheap parody. What you have is a prime example of why the PG-13 rating should never have been invented.

Now, before anyone starts jumping up and down on my nuts for praising and liking the animated RoboCop show earlier for it being kid-friendly, whilst decrying RoboCop 3 for going kid-friendly… allow me to explain. First, I did qualify the animated show by wondering if I would’ve liked it as a teenager back then, not as an adult now. Plus, the animated show may have been the same characters on a technical level, but the show was a retelling of the first film and created its own continuity. Those ‘same’ characters existed in a different universe to the first film. With RoboCop 3, the characters are still supposed to be the same ones from the first two films and it is in continuity with the 1987 original. So RoboCop now being all ‘help a granny cross the road’ is stupid. The character hardly does anything in the film and spends most of it out of action and being repaired.


There’s always been something that bothered me about the film too. Well, there are a great many things that bother me about it, to be honest. But there is one specific thing that always annoyed me. When you see RoboCop moving and talking, the suit looked terrible. You could see the jawline flopping about when Robert Burke spoke. You could see the joins in the suit more than before and it just looked really ‘fake’. It really did just look like an actor in a suit. Whereas before, it looked and felt genuine, even if we did know it was just an actor in a suit. I later found out that the suit used was the same one from RoboCop 2. Now, there is nothing wrong with reusing older props in films but with the RoboCop suit, it was measured and built specifically for Peter Weller and his body. Robert Burke had a different build and his jawline was not as strong. One of the reasons Weller got the part in the first film was because Paul Verhoeven loved his strong jawline. So when Burke wore the suit, it didn’t fit, or it didn’t fit well enough. You can really see as much in the film too. I later learned that the suit was so uncomfortable on Robert Burke that it actually hurt him when he was acting in it and he’d be in that thing for several hours at a time. I genuinely feel sorry for Burke. He had a shit script to work with and spend hours in a suit that caused him pain… just to make a shit and utterly pointless sequel.

And this is just half of the ‘fun’ too. There is more questionable RoboCop content coming up in part two of this retrospective, including some of the most bizarre appearances of the character ever…