But to answer the question, I guess I’d have to say: they were there, so I decided to include them. I had to, really. To not do so would be to leave the plots so gutted as to be useless. But remember that I go by the games first, not any cartoon show.
Note 2: Living machines are a fictional concept. It’s just made up for the sake of telling the tale. The FAQs below give information on how the concept works in The Series; this information not meant to imply that living machines are real. Any resemblance to real people or incidents is purely coincidental, and all that.
Living machines have shown up in many forms. They are usually humanoid, but sometimes appear in forms of animals. Often living machines have intelligence similar to the organic creature they resemble, but this really depends on how they were created. Machines that are created from animals tend to act like those animals even after their transformations, whereas robots that look like animals but have human-like intelligence usually keep that intelligence after becoming alive.
Note: The Series coined the term “bioroid” but it did not create the concept of a living machine. The idea behind a machine with life has been around for quite a while, and used in everything from Pinocchio to He-Man. Being a fictional concept, the definition and qualities of living machines vary depending on the source, similar to how vampires from one piece of fiction may differ from those found in another. The Series contains many of the same aspects as living machines from other sources, but also elaborates upon them, since living machines are a rather central point (seeing as to how the main character is one).
The second aspect is the “soul” itself (spirit, spark of life, whatever). This is what gives the living machine its personality, and in the case of a humanoid machine, its human-like mind. Without this spark of life, the living machine is like a plant—or at best, a rudimentary animal—without emotion or personality. It takes the soul to give the machine its true life; otherwise it’s just a self-sufficent husk of matter.
The soul aspect is the key element that prevents living machines from being created purposefully by humans. The reason being that we cannot even detect a soul much less create or grab one and stick it into a body. How a soul ends up in a body is still unknown; however, the effects of it are easily apparent, and living machines without souls very often merely fade away and die, even if uninjured.
It’s true that all robots in Capcom’s works, from the humanoid ones like Bass and Robot Masters, to the minor stage enemies, are treated like human beings. They have free wills, can think, feel emotions, feel pain, eat, drink, sleep, dream, breed, cry, and die. In fact, they’re basically exactly like humans save for name only. But Capcom never uses the concept of a living machine to explain this. This is just the way all robots are in all of their works.
Astute observers will notice that this blows a huge hole in the plot of the X series. In the game Mega Man X, Dr. Light writes that X is of a “new” series of robots that can “think, feel, and make their own decisions.” However, all of the robots in all Capcom games, even in the original series, can do all of this anyway. So this completely invalidates the entire premise of the X games.
In The Series, because only a select few characters are living machines, and because living machines are not, by definition, ordinary robots, this leaves a perfectly reasonable reason for why Dr. Light would write that X is a totally new type of robot. After all, he’s saying X is a new type of robot, not that he is a living machine. Although, the living machine concept does lend itself well to the X series as well, as the old X dream shows.
In Lands of Confusion Dr. Wily obtains a sample of the metal MIRA from Signal. He doesn’t know it is called MIRA on Signal’s world so he dubs it “Bassnium” (reference: Mega Man 2: The Power Fighters). On Signal’s planet MIRA is something of a mystery, but Dr. Wily correctly identifies it for what it really is: living machine matter.
For some time the scientist examines this material and discovers that he can duplicate it, to create more of it out of a specific kind of energy, using the proper catalyst. Amazing! Eventually Dr. Wily comes to the realization that what he is holding is essentially a piece of Mega Man himself, since Mega Man is also a living machine.
Now Dr. Wily had never been terribly fond of living machines. They are notorious for being defiant and letting their emotions and pain get the best of them. The fact that Wily’s nemesis is himself a living machine is probably icing on the cake. However, by the same token, Dr. Wily was also beginning to realize that no matter what robots he built, they just couldn’t seem to prevail against Mega Man. At first Wily thought it simply something Dr. Light built into the blue bomber that set him apart. Eventually, the evil scientist began to wonder if it did have something to do with Mega Man being alive.
So here Wily is, having duplicated more of this Bassnium material, pondering the fact that it’s part of a living machine. Dr. Wily gets the inspiration to duplicate Mega Man in every way possible, right down to the metal. To create Mega Man’s equal, so to speak.
He builds Bass.
Bass was created from the MIRA samples, which since the metal is not explicitly from Mega Man, does not exactly react in the same manner. Also, Bass was built, put together by a man’s hands, so while his body possesses living characteristics, it is not known at this time whether or not he ever obtained a soul. Bass does exhibit free-willed tendencies and some rudimentary emotions such as anger, but Reploids also possess these traits and it is unknown whether they are alive either. Likewise, Bass seems quite different from living machines in many ways, for example his apparent refusal to feel pain, but living machines vary from one to the next as drastically as organic creatures, so this is not conclusive in itself.
In short, Bass appears to be an early prototype of X (or more accurately Zero), like a cross between a living machine and a Reploid-style robot (he is not a Reploid specifically because only robots created by Cain based off X’s design are Reploids, but I hope you understand what I mean). Essentially, Bass is a bioroid/Reploid hybrid.
Talk about your bridges to the twenty-second century.