My Rules Are Not Your Rules
Games have rules. These rules aren't always fair: The average First-Person Shooter
pits a single player against multiple groups of enemies, all of whom are trying to kill him.
Some games, however, supposedly apply the same rules to the human and AI players. The red bike has a max speed of 230 kph, batteries for 500 laser shots, can't take corners well... wait a minute! The blue bike has a max speed of 190 kph, so how did it overtake your red bike when it was going at max speed?
This is one of the most egregious
forms of The Computer Is a Cheating Bastard
, in which the AI players break the explicitly laid-out rules of the game. This throws any idea of equality out the window. However, since many games would be rather dull if the AI played fair, some believe this to be a necessary evil
. Others, meanwhile, will take great, detailed pains to elaborate to their associates what horrors
they would adore visiting upon the game programmers.
Sometimes this is actually inverted for the player's benefit to provide a fair challenge - in games which value input speed and assume equal footing of both sides (such as fighting games), the AI simulating the opponent has to naturally be handicapped so that the player has a fighting chance, considering the computer has no need to physically bash buttons, is capable of perfect timing
, knows every
move and would never fumble a special attack unless some kind of restriction is in place. In games like Real-Time Strategy
, this generally ensures the computer opponent won't try cheap or underhanded tactics (such as foregoing base building, investing everything in a Zerg Rush
of starter units to win quickly).
Sometimes this doesn't come out of a desire to give the AI an advantage, but because it would be too difficult or even impossible to program the AI to handle something in the "proper" way. Other times, it's just an oversight or an outright bug.
Note that this applies only to games and situations where the human and the AI are supposed to be on an equal footing. If the rules say the AI is in a different situation to the human, treating them differently isn't cheating.
Compare Rules Are For Humans
, which applies to adaptations of existing games.
Non-Video Game Examples
- In the Advance Wars series game Dual Strike, units which are controlled by an AI are able to load their air units into the naval aircraft transport units on an allied team (including your own units controlled by you). When under the control of the player they appear colored as your own units (despite that fact that they are not yours) in the status window and the menu. When unloaded they momentarily appear as the same color as the transport unit then resume their normal coloring. When the transport unit is owned by an AI player, they will always unload the unit after they move it unless they are attacking another unit, they also have no problem unloading an aircraft unit in range of twenty or more enemy carriers and missiles.
- The Fog of War doesn't work for the AI like it does for the player in Black Hole Rising. Usually all units have a limited view range and you can only attack enemy units that are visible. Units in reefs or forests can only be seen by adjacent units. The AI not only can see everything in the map but it can also attack units regardless of visibility. The only exceptions are units in reefs and forests, which the AI treats by sending one unit to detect it, then bombarding with everything it has.
- Aerobiz: The game does this and plays unfair with money at once. If your airline runs in the red for a year, it goes bankrupt and you lose. If an AI airline runs in the red for a year, it goes bankrupt, changes its name and gets a huge influx of cash to start over and bounce back.
- In Sid Meier’s Alpha Centauri, the AI can ignore the cost and build times for military units, allowing them to pump them out without stopping, which can sometimes make taking over their cities very difficult.
- AI War: Fleet Command has this as a feature. The AI has the industrial might to literally drown you in ships, such that a Mk3 Nuke won't be enough to save you, and you have no chance at doing the same to the AI. However, the AI won't do that unless you tick it off (the AI Progress gets too high), and a lot of the actions that you "can't" do (okay, for a lot of them, it's more you can, but really shouldn't without a good reason) have the side effect of annoying it (AKA, the actions raise AI Progress). Annoy it too much and... yeah, you lose. (However, you can do some actions the AI can't, and vice versa. For example, the player can get access to powerful Spire technology (with the Light of the Spire expansion) whereas the AI cannot.)
- In Arc Style: Baseball!! 3D, pitchers always throw faster when they are controlled by the CPU. If your average Tall pitcher can throw a 138 km/h fastball at maximum, that same guy will throw the same pitch at 158 km/h when in the hands of the computer. Not only that: Normal and Macho pitchers have a wider array of pitches as well when in the hands of the CPU. This might be done on purpose to compensate for Artificial Stupidity.
- In Battlestar Galactica Online, players experience a large penalty in the charge-up time for Hyperspeed Escape if they try to do so during or shortly after a fight. The AI has no such rule.
- In the Captain Tsubasa games, every action costs guts. If a character hasn't got enough guts, they can only do basic actions like pass the ball— unless they are AI character, who never run out of guts. Expect AI forwards to spam special shots until your goalkeeper runs out of guts to do his special save moves.
- Most enemies in Castle Crashers follow the same rules as the player, but a few, like Fire Demons, can cast magic without their magic field active.
- Change Air Blade:
- The player needs to fill up a charge meter (while being in the top half of the screen) in order to perform their change (which turns them into a boss-like vehicle and prevents their armor from being damaged until the change is destroyed). The computer lacks such a meter. Instead, they change automatically after they hit a certain amount of damage (provided you aren't in the top half of the screen, which is 99% of the time since the pickup you have to get to swap positions rarely drops in 1P mode), regardless of what attacks they just did. Even if that attack would drain the charge meter if done by a human.
- Sigma Lancer's first change is used near the end of his second life bar. His second change is used near the start of the third life bar. His third change is used the very instant the second change gets destroyed. You cannot damage Sigma Lancer while his change is active.
- In the Chaos Rings series, the harder bosses in the game all have the ability to take two consecutive turns while the player only has one.
- Chrono Cross:
- The player has to attack multiple times in order to build up enough energy to cast high-level magic and skills, and can only cast one spell (max) per turn. The computer is completely unbounded by this rule. It can and will cast magic and skills from the first turn of battle, on consecutive turns, or in some cases, more than once in a single turn, without ever having to build up energy with standard attacks. (However, enemies have predictable patterns instead. So if you know what's coming next, you have the advantage. This is actually VITALLY NECESSARY to get the best ending.)
- In addition to the above, there are spells that can only be used by characters with the same innate color as the spell. Some bosses are able to use these spells despite having a different innate color. Grobyc, for example, can use the blue-innate-character-only spell Vigora, even though he is black innate. (This is also purely for show, since Vigora regenerates stamina; player characters need Stamina to act, but enemies don't HAVE stamina and, as noted above, can already act however often they're scripted to.)
- In the original game, Triremes built by the player couldn't end their turn away from the coast without being lost. Computer built triremes had no such restrictions, allowing them to circumnavigate the world.
- Most of the Civilization games have AI that largely ignore some of the basic game rules when playing on the higher difficulty levels with the recent edition of Civilization V being the worst, where the AI can just ignore some of the game rules. For example, when a player founds a city it decreases the overall happiness of his empire thus resulting in things like lower production and a lower growth rate. This is done to prevent the player from expanding too quickly via settler spamming. Plenty of players have reported however, that on the higher difficulty levels the AI can more or less just do as it pleases and produce a vast number of cities without any penalties, and produce units at a much faster rate than the player for no reason. The AI itself does not actually appear to get smarter, however, making this a perfect example of Fake Difficulty and The Computer Is a Cheating Bastard.
- Civilization V actually explicitly mentions this in the description of higher difficulties.
- The computer can also apparently build nukes without uranium - that is, when the game doesn't just spawn the nukes right next to your city.
- Command & Conquer:
- Early games allowed the AI to rebuild destroyed buildings without regard for building adjacency rules (which forbade placing a building too far away from others). On the bright side, the AI always built on the exact same spots, so a single infantry unit (or a sandbag, which the enemy won't instinctively attack, but harder to get there because of said adjacency rules) can stall the AI by being where the building used to be.
- Command & Conquer: Generals:
- An odd couple of AI rules...er...modifications appear in the expansion Zero Hour. Prince Kassad (the GLA stealth-specialist general) can make terrorist motorcycles by default (usually a bonus of the Demolition-specialist, otherwise made by tediously combining a motorcyclist with a terrorist) and enjoys using them in excess. And the rocket-infantry units of all AI USA generals can use laser guidance (increases range and rate of fire) on any target, including other infantry and buildings, yet players can only paint vehicles. However, these both seem more like happy accidents that improve the challenge the AI offers, since the AI is not always very bright. These quirks are above and beyond the usual RTS AI cheats, such as extra resources and unit-building bumper-crops.
- The terrorist motorcycle is actually done deliberately because the AI has access to a construction button for them which is hidden from the human players. The missile bug is an AI fault and many a Game Mod try to fix it. In the campaigns, Kassad also gets "Sniper Quad Cannons" which can One-Hit Kill infantry. Campaign Thrax meanwhile has infantry which are entirely immune to poison, radiation and microwave weapons. On the other hand, the player can steal his tech and then build them too.
- And then there's Leang who gets both ends of it. Sure, she gets a mash-up for units and starts with 3 superweapons, but even on the hardest difficulty, they fire at a rate of 12 minutes per shot (As opposed to 6-4 for the player) and an entire hour for easy, meaning if you simply turtle up and rush superweapons, she'll be easily out-gunned.
- Dawn of War:
- In the original, certain powerful units had a limit on the number of them that a human player could build. For some reason, the computer wasn't subject to said limits, allowing it to spam otherwise unique uber-units.
- Tau bases in the Dark Crusade expansion campaign could build listening posts around their bases rather than on strategic points. You, however, can only put them on SPs, since that is what they are for. The discrepancy was due to the fact that the Tau had no static defensive structures except for these strategic point turrets. As the base building code demanded static defenses, the developers had no other option but let the AI cheat.
- Also in the Dark Crusade campaign, your army has an "honor guard" consisting of your commander and several elite units. You can purchase an elite unit during your turn so long as you control the territory that grants it - and if you lose the territory, you lose the unit, no matter where your army was. If you lose the unit in battle you have to wait until your next turn to buy it. Your AI opponents, on the other hand always have a large number of honor guard units, even if you control required territories. It becomes especially obvious and insulting if you have gained the "attack twice each turn" ability: should you attack the enemy army and wipe out their honor guard, forcing them to retreat, if you attack them again immediately they will have replaced their entire honor guard, for free, during the middle of your turn.
- This problem also exists, albeit in a significantly more annoying way, in Soulstorm. Again, honor guard units are won by conquering a territory; lose the territory and you lose the unit. If you have 0 territories, you have 0 honor guard units. However, for the AI, the amount of honor guard units is related to how long the game has gone on. This means an enemy force can have a full set of honor guard units despite only having a single territory. On harder difficulties this can make the game completely unwinnable as some territories have the enemy spawn with 2 bases. And 2 commanders. With a full honor guard each. You're outnumbered at least 2-1 by some of the most powerful units in the game, and they will attack you instantly.
- Honor Guards you have access to are usually upgraded versions of your vanilla troops, and usually in low numbers. You may get one or two vehicles, but even then it's one of your low-tier ones. However, your opponents have no such handicap. Be prepared to face squads upon squads of enemies as well as end-tier units such as Predators, Leman Russes and Hammerheads. Compounding the fact is that AI Honor Guard units are treated as if they're an add-on to the AI's existing force, so if you let the battle drag out, the AI can not only rebuild his honor guard mid battle but can also send out the normal varieties of those troops (hence, breaking the squad cap of those units).
- The Imperial Guard has a scanner ability that allows you to detect an invisible unit anywhere on the map... if you know where it is (Muzzle Flashlight and Laser Sights are only there so you can "see" them). The AI, of course, always locks on to the exact position of your stealthed unit.
- The most noticeable case of this has to be the Eldar stronghold in Dark Crusade. Newly-trained squads are around half-strength, and without any upgraded weapons, and the strongest tanks are limited to one or two. Here, the AI pops-out fully reinforced and equipped squads, builds as many Fire Prisms as it feels like, whenever it feels like it. note
- Justified in Digimon: Digital Card Battle. Most enemies avoid this, but one of the bosses fights with a deck containing all the top cards and which doesn't have to be shuffled, while simultaneously moving the player's partner cards to the bottom of their deck. The game explicitly states he's a cheater. However, this trope is used to your advantage in Digimon World 3: the player has access to a set of Digimon other humans don't; others have a separate pool to choose from where their forces can only have three moves.
- In later Disgaea games, you can merge your monster-type units into giant monsters with higher stats and increased range on their attacks, and you can turn monsters into weapons for your humanoid units to use (called "Magichange"). However, Fusion and Magichange normally only work for a few turns without a special ability. Unless you're the computer, for whom it will never wear off. (On the other hand, given the computer's tendency to fuse/Magichange on the first turn of battle, and its tendency to sit still doing nothing until player units are in range, this can be seen as a practical way to keep the player from just waiting the fusion/Magichange out from the other side of the battlefield... but then, once the enemy unit is close and trying to murder your units, it STILL doesn't wear off.)
- In Dragon Age II, magic doesn't allow you to teleport, and there's even a Codex entry spelling out that it's impossible. And when we say "doesn't allow you to teleport", we mean "you" (and the members of your party) specifically. AI mages, like qunari Saarebas? Teleport all the damn time.
- Those who find themselves playing a mage in The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim will notice enemy magic-users doing some very strange things with ward spells. When used by the player, ward spells cancel out offensive spells, but are a constant magicka drain and can only sustain so much damage before they break. If a player's ward breaks, they are momentarily stunned and vulnerable to attack. NPC mages, on the other hand, can sustain ward spells for minutes at a time all while lobbing high-level destruction spells at you. Evidently NPC wards do not consume magicka. What takes this into the realm of "infuriating," however, is what happens when an NPC's ward breaks. Although they are stunned like the player would be, they are also immune to all damage, and likely will cast the same ward spell immediately after recovering. You cannot damage an NPC mage with magic until the A.I. Roulette has him drop the ward.
- The online CCG Elements: the Game is pretty spectacular about this. Not only does a lot of chance-massaging go on, but there are a couple of rules it actively breaks. First and foremost, poison damage to the AI does damage once per turn; poison damage to the player tends to squeeze out an extra HP or two on its way. Then there's the Arena, in which players build decks for the AI to use against other players who foolishly stumble into the Arena; they're given points based on an in-game level to upgrade stuff, meaning that a deck designed by a skilled player can have 80% more hit points than you, have an upgraded mark that generates more quanta per turn than yours, or even draw more cards in a turn than you can.
- In Epic War 3, the computer is not bound by build limits or build times. However, this is only to counteract the greater advantages you have as the player.
- Eternal Champions:
- "Inner energy" is required for all special moves. Theoretically, this forces the player to learn the characters and apply specific strategies in every possible matchup... Except against the AI, which could always execute specials with sheer and utter disregard of its own energy levels.
- Even more, well, insulting, characters have an ability called Insult which allows them to sacrifice one piece of their special gauge to destroy a little more of their opponents. The computer, especially the final boss (bosses in the Sega CD version), is quite fond of repeatedly Insulting you from a distance to render you impotent, usually shortly before, with a blatantly flashing EMPTY gauge, they execute their ultimate full-gauge-requiring attacks, some of which do things like rendering the character completely invincible (the final boss(es) have these, naturally, and if you lose in the final battle, you can't continue!).
- Enemies in Etrian Odyssey choose their attack once it's their specific turn to attack, unlike the player, who has to decide all attacks in advance at the turn's beginning. This can be observed in the way a single-target attack may target a party member even on the same turn they were revived.
- In Europa Universalis 2, the computer does not suffer attrition for its naval units.
- Enemies in the RPG Evil Islands never run out of fatigue needed to run (no pun intended) and cast spells; thus, even a frigging troll (an ugly, pimply, lumbering bulk—you know the kind) can always outrun the player.
- Eye of Judgment: Legends:
- The AI explicitly cheats throughout the entire story mode, sometimes to nigh-insurmountable extents. This is all the more egregious considering that Eye of Judgment is essentially a trading card game, where even a slight mana or attack advantages compound over time to give the abusing side an enormous advantage.
- The final boss is particularly nasty about this in that the game actually lies about the extent to which he cheats. While the boss description states that he gets one mana off the summoning cost of any of his ultra rare creatures, he actually gets the summoning cost reduced to one. Prepare to see him pull out insanely powerful cards like Ouroboros Dragon out of nowhere while you're stuck summoning bottom tier monsters. Oh, and he uses a stacked deck. Prepare to see his trademark card Scion Triumphant summoned around turn 5 every time you battle him even though he only has one copy of the card in his entire deck.
- The second to last boss has the ability to use any spell cards at no mana cost, and his deck seems designed to abuse this power to the fullest extent. This is particularly evident when he casts Elven Dismissal, a card which returns an opponent's monster to their hand by paying an amount of mana slightly higher than the monster's summoning cost. Since the boss essentially has an infinite amount of free spell mana at his disposal, the game interprets this as allowing him to sweep away ANY of your monsters for free. If he decides to take out your most powerful defensive monster and already has board control, you can kiss the match goodbye.
- In Fallout 3 and Fallout: New Vegas, weapons used by the player gradually degrade as they are used, doing less damage, firing slightly slower, starting to jam and eventually breaking. When anyone else uses a weapon, the condition doesn't degrade except when the weapon itself is hit by an attack. Notably you can make this a considerably advantage because this applies to your companions, and there is a lot of equipment and ammunition whose only major downside is frailty/increasing rate of wear—downsides that don't affect them at all. Likewise, radiation only affects the player character.
- Final Fantasy:
- Final Fantasy VII:
- Joe, a chocobo racer, and Teioh, his black chocobo, in the Golden Saucer, will always have higher stats than yours, even if your chocobo's stats are all maxed out. After a point it doesn't matter, as you can train your Gold Chocobo enough (get it running in a straight line) that it has enough stamina to sprint from start to finish on the long course. Joe doesn't start sprinting until the final stretch and so is easily beatable.
- Sephiroth himself, during Cloud's retelling of the Nibelheim incident. He's under AI control and is invincible, so any enemies that do manage to attack him before he can act will do no damage at all. While you CAN become invincible yourself legitimately later on in the game, Sephiroth isn't using any abilities or equipment that can make him as such. On top of this, Sephiroth never loses MP when he casts a spell while everyone else in the game does spend MP when using an ability. All of Sephiroth's cheating is based off Cloud telling the party that the legendary SOLDIER is really that strong.
- Final Fantasy Tactics:
- Not all enemies have the required job levels to use their current job. (This is really a minor issue, however, having those levels doesn't affect their performance and won't make a difference unless the player invites them to the party.)
- A more egregious example is that the AI has unlimited item stock. That rare Infinity Plus One sword you've been crawling around Deep Dungeon for, while fighting through the hardest enemies in the game? Yeah, they toss those babies around like it was nothing; preferable, straight into your face. And that's not mentioning the Elixir Spam and the Draw Out Spam. Fortunately, this is hardly a problem in game where you can wipe out the whole enemy force in one turn in most battles, and sometimes, before they can even move! You can also turn the enemy's tendency to throw Infinity Plus One Swords at you into an advantage with a reaction ability that allows you to catch and keep any weapons thrown at you.
- In the PSP remake, the Onion Knight job is marked by being able to use any piece of equipment, being unable to use abilities, yet having extremely high stats when mastered. However, in one link mission, you and your partner must defeat a team of master Onion Knights who have a full range of powerful abilities equipped.
- In the last battle in the last link mission in the PSP remake, the final boss of the mission can equip a Ribbon in his accessory slot. Not only is Cloud the only male in the game that can equip Ribbons, Ribbons are headgear.
- Final Fantasy Tactics A2:
- Abilities are all learned by specific jobs. Blood Price, for instance, can only be learned by Spellblades, a Viera-only class. Now, there exists a job changing system, so you can use abilities from one class to another, so this means finding Red Mages and Summoners (both Viera jobs) with Blood Price isn't terribly out of the ordinary. However, AI units tend to ignore the exclusivity of support abilities like these, and you'll find plenty of enemy units with abilities they just simply shouldn't have. Illusionist (Humes and Nu Mou only) with Blood Price, despite lacking the Spellblade job necessary to get it? Sure, why not? And, whenever you compete in the "Cup" missions to get scions, some enemy units will have support skills that raise Magick/Resistance, or raise Attack/Defense (which can also be learned by monsters, but they could simply just be abilities only learned by those monster), or support skills that allows the unit to evade all ranged attacks (not Evade Magick, that's a reaction skill). Your clan will never learn such skills, oh no. What really rankles is when you fight with a certain unit using one of these unobtainable support skills ("Impervious", which makes them immune to all Standard Status Ailments), and then later on you get to recruit this character, and he's suddenly forgotten this amazing ability.
- A very literal example of the trope is the law system itself. In its predecessor, laws were universal: everyone in the conflict was bound by the judge's ruling. In this game, your clan has its own personal judge, who deals you one law per battle, which only applies to you. Best of all, the laws are not random, so if the judge thinks that your battle against the nigh-Demonic Spider Flans would be improved by disallowing all magic, then prepare for a long, painful battle. Presumably other clans have their own judges imposing similarly arbitrary laws, but you never see them or their effects. Thankfully, breaking the laws in A2 is far less severely punished than it was in Advance: instead of having the violators sent to prison for several in-game days, you simply lose the benefit you'd chosen (annoying, especially if you'd chosen a benefit that occurs after the battle, like an EXP bonus), and the ability to revive your fallen comrades (though this doesn't apply to the Auto-Life spell). It's still quite annoying to watch the enemies gleefully do what you can't. This could possibly be justified, however, in the sense that the law is applied to you because you are in an adjudged clan. The enemies, especially if they are monsters, are not adjudged, and therefore are not subject to the laws that the player has to follow. The downside to not being a part of an adjudged clan, however...
- Worth special mention is the horror known as Brightmoor Tor. Not only do all the enemies have access to a unique moveset the player is completely unable to use without romhacking (Turning), said moveset consists exclusively of middle fingers raised to the player, such as inflicting mass Haste and Protect to all enemies and mass Slow to your party. What really crosses the line into being absolutely unfair (and this even shows up elsewhere in the game) is that Brightmoon Tor's enemies automatically get a round or two of free turns, completely ignoring any actual speed stats. Brightmoon Tor's enemies WILL get a free round of actions that they will, almost exclusively, use to ensure they get several more rounds of free actions. It can literally take 10 minutes into a battle before your party, having been savaged to hell and back by this point, can do ANYTHING. Fake Difficulty in its purest form, the player's party will continue to have approximately one round of actions between 2-3 enemy action rounds. The rest of the Turning moveset consists of things like Dark Elixir that drop a unit's HP to one, Otherworldly Wind to blast your entire team with high non-elemental damage, Shadowflare (the same thing but even stronger), and Flash Bomb, an attack that explicitly ignores any reaction ability the unit may have. Every single enemy will have other skills it is completely impossible for any other unit of its type to have otherwise.
- Final Fantasy Tactics Advance's law system was, if anything, even more restrictive than A2's. There were anything between one and three laws up for any given mission. The enemies actually had to obey the laws (Enemies that disobeyed would be red-carded and jailed just like your party members, and sometimes waiting for the right law would cripple an enemy), except when they didn't. Many enemies of any real importance would have a special medal on them (just a mark on their profile, not an actual item that you could steal or break) that made them immune to getting red-carded. So they could get yellow-card warnings all day for flagrant disobedience of the laws that would get your clanmates jailed on the spot. And you could never get this kind of law-protection. Despite this being technically unfair, it is also an necessary evil since a boss that was bound by the law could easily be crippled and destroys whatever challenge said boss would have given to the player.
- In Dissidia: Final Fantasy, all equipment has a minimum required level before it can be equipped. Accessories don't have a level restriction, and instead fall into several classes, depending on how many of the same accessory you can equip at once. Abilities are earned based on your level, and cost "CP" to equip, so even if you know an ability you might not be able to use it without removing an existing ability. Needless to say, none of this applies to the computer. Strictly speaking, these limits still apply to the AI, but only outside Story Mode. In Story Mode though, the AI can screw these rules as it pleases.
- In Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles: Echoes of Time, being Slowed will absolutely cripple your spellcasting. It will not have this effect on enemies.
- Most spells and abilities in Final Fantasy XIV are bound by a charge/casting bar with varying speeds. Enemies using Fire, Blizzard, or Thunder can fire off the spells an alarmingly fast speed while the player's version of the same spells takes at least 1.5 to 2.5 seconds to unleash. Even if the enemy is inflicted with Slow, their cast times are still very damn fast. Another element that the AI cheats against is using debuffs that can't be healed when they could be at other times. For example, Poison is a common debuff that a simple Antidote or a healer's spell can easily purge. Certain bosses can inflict Poison that can't be removed at all and there's nothing in the game that indicates that the debuff can't be removed.
- In most games, you'll find equipment that can protect you from a variety of status effects and can even get items that will prevent instant death. Many of a Bonus Boss can ignore your protection entirely and inflict the status effect on you anyway, making those items pointless to have.
- Fire Emblem:
- In Fire Emblem: Genealogy of the Holy War, opponents have infinite uses of their weapons and staves. The former is rarely an issue as all weapons except the Earth Sword have 50 uses. (Though it is annoying when it comes to long-range spells like Bolting and Meteor, which only had 5 uses in later games.)
- Fire Emblem: Thracia 776 contains an example that you'll only realize in retrospect: throughout the game you face Dark Mages, who use a spell that does heavy damage and inflicts Poison. When you later get a Dark Mage of your own, the same spell used by you doesn't poison.
- This quote from Serenes Forest.net, on the forging system in Fire Emblem Awakening, pretty much says it all:
Each weapon stat (Might, Hit and Critical) can be increased through a maximum of 5 intervals. There is an overall limit of 8 intervals that can be raised per weapon. For example, you can raise Might by 5 intervals and Critical by 3 intervals, but no more than that. Enemies, especially on higher difficulties, can have weapons that exceed the interval limits.
- Fire Emblem Fates continues this tradition, giving enemies exclusive weapon classes - katti, kukri, nageyari, javelins, maces, star axes, hankyu, and shortbows. These completely outclass the standard weapon classes, and in some cases even generic mooks can have access to them, but except for the weakest javelin, the player never will. There's also one chapter (Nohr chapter 26) where an enemy Sorcerer is standing in the middle of the map, spamming debuff staves on your characters as much as he possibly can. The problem with this: the Sorcerer class cannot use staves, and never has been able to do so since the class was introduced.
- AI aircraft in MS Flight Simulator will nonchalantly blaze right through the player, taking no damage while the player's airplane falls out of the sky. Gods help you if you're running a virtual airline add-on when this happens. They also blatantly ignore ATC instructions and FAA regulations with no penalties. Real-world pilots playing MSFS tend to turn off AI traffic for exactly this reason.
- In Freelancer, you can only mount a level-3 or lower gun on a level-3 hardpoint like you get on the Defender. The corrupted Liberty forces flying the same Defender can mount level-7 Nomad Energy Cannons. AI-controlled ships also have unlimited weapon capacitance and thruster burn-time.
- If you set the original game to the Master difficulty you'll notice that all computer vehicles now have a top speed of 478 kph and masterful cornering ability.
- And on any difficulty, if you crash into an AI machine, your machine will go spinning out of control in general observation of standard racing game physics, while the other machine will invariably be nudged slightly to the side and then go on as if nothing happened. This is especially evident if you catch two AIs crashing; they'll both be nudged in exactly this manner, and often go right back and crash into each other again, multiple times.
- In Global Agenda, the Player Versus Environment AI is not restricted by power pools like the players are. Thus, even if their power is being sapped (such as by a robotics beating them in the back), they will still be able to shoot with no regard whatsoever to the fact that a player in their situation would be out of power to shoot with. Many of the NPCs can also completely ignore recon stealth with no warning or ability use whatsoever.
- In all of the Golden Sun games, the type of attack used are identified as either used (physical) or casts (magic). The status effect, Seal, prevents the target from casting magic. Most bosses use magical abilities with the "used" variant instead of "casts". Ergo, enemies can use magical abilities without being bound by the "if magic based, Seal prevents magic" rule.
- Curiously, one enemy (a spiky rock) does follow the rules by being unable to cast a spell if it doesn't have enough PP. Except this can happen on its first turn, meaning they don't have enough total PP to cast a spell, something even the players never suffer from (except in certain rare cases involving the disabling of all djinn).
- In Grand Theft Auto III, Vice City and San Andreas, the police are designed to go after the player and virtually no one else. This is especially frustrating in III, when Almost every gang ends up hostile towards you by the end of the game, and the cops picking on you means you can't even try to defend yourself.
- In the two-car races in Gran Turismo 4, there is a penalty (your engine gets shut off for a few seconds) for colliding with the other car, but this never happens to the AI. Even if they ram you, if anyone gets the penalty, it will be you.
- In the entire series, ammo can become rare. Moreso for powerful guns. The AI doesn't care about this, it can fire everything with impunity. This can work in the player's favour as well though, since it also applies for allies. The AI also has Improbable Aiming Skills. Hearing about Marines firing perfect shots with the sniper rifle while inside a moving Warthog isn't uncommon, particularly in Halo: Combat Evolved, where Johnson can snipe the drivers of speeding vehicles.
- In Halo: Reach, Dual Wielding, a gameplay feature in both Halo 2 and Halo 3, was removed for balance issues... except for Covenant enemies, meaning high-ranking Elites can still wield two plasma rifles and mow you down over and over again.
- In the Turn-Based Tactics game Hard West, enemies benefit from an automatic overwatchnote but the party members can't use such a feature. The goal is to force the player to flank the enemy instead of turning each tactical battle into a purely defensive firefight.
- In Tom Clancy's H.A.W.X. 2, players often have a limited number of missiles (to shoot down enemies with) and flares (to decoy enemy heat-seekers), and each plane has its own physical limitations on what it can do (such as turning radius and speed). But when the AI uses those same planes, not only do they have an unlimited number of missiles and flares, their planes can pull hairpin turns instantly the second they're in your sights, at speeds that would normally make that plane stall out. And, even when you have radar-guided missiles, those same flares still work against you. This often forces players to close the distance and use their cannon for up-close-and-personal work.
- HD Xyth:
- The computer usually has several points of damage resistance, counterattack, free energy generation, and health regeneration that the player lacks, as well as coming with up to 400HP where the player's base will typically have around 75. This is particularly irritating since a great many cards have low-damage specials, such as Flare Spire's ability to inflict 1 automatic damage per turn, which simply does nothing to the computer. Adding insult to injury, even when its resistance eliminates all damage done by your cards, the computer's retaliate will still damage them back. As a result, for quite a few cards their special ability amounts to "This ship takes extra damage every round for no benefit." Consequently playing against humans is a completely different game and the tactics are hugely different from the computer.
- As if that isn't enough the computer gets piles of rare cards you don't start with (A deck you'll probably be facing in your first few games fields Ultranought, a super-rare card you'll grind for months to obtain), and it often gets custom cards with utterly broken special abilities the player can never have, such as carriers that deploy destoyer-class ships instead of fighters. However, due to the fact that these are sometimes randomized, once in a while the computer will deploy cards who's specials are less powerful than usual.
- Several opponents in the Hearthstone tutorial have special abilities the player can never access — some of them game-changers, making the value of the tutorial questionable. The last opponent in particular is massively overpowered, and the only reason it's possible to beat him with a basic deck is that said deck has been deliberately stacked to allow it.
- In Hearts Of Iron II the computer does not obey range restrictions when using naval units - which leads to Japanese CABG's in the Baltic. (The computer has the same restrictions as the player in Hearts Of Iron III.)
- The developers of Judge Dredd: Dredd vs. Death went through the extra effort to have the firearms of the Judges explode if a civilian tries to use them, which is keeping in with the source material. This would be more commendable if it applied for the AI too. Admittedly, actually witnessing this is a rare occurrence, since you have to fulfill several specific conditions: A) Find an enemy who will not surrender when you shoot the weapon out of his/her hand. B) Have this happen near a dropped Judge weapon. C) Get the enemy to pick up the Judge weapon instead of the weapon they just dropped, or simply attacking you with fisticuffs.
- Kingdom Hearts:
- Kingdom Hearts: Chain of Memories:
- Enemies have an unlimited deck size and never have to recharge. (Riku never does either, however, but he still needs to shuffle his deck) And enemies that do have to reshuffle appear to have infinite CP and can float out of the way so you can't hit them while they're recharging. You however, cannot do this. (You actually can attack them once or twice while they're charging, however. They only float out of the way when you do hit them once or twice.) Larxene is a prime example of this.
- Most notably, Riku's sleights. You see Repliku using moves like Dark Firaga and Dark Aura... however, you yourself get access to these abilities. Naturally a lot of players will want to use dark Aura because it was That One Attack... except the only way you can use it is if your throw a sleight where the value equals 27... the only way to do this is to get three nines. However, Riku has a fixed deck and naturally you won't be able to use dark Aura until much later. (Like the last level) while Repliku can throw it out with any value.
- The Struggle in Kingdom Hearts II. When you get your opponent down to 0 HP, they are knocked out for a few seconds so you can collect more orbs, then they revive with full health. When YOU get knocked down to 0 HP? You lose instantly. (It helps that the only remotely dangerous Struggle opponent is Vivi, whom you cannot fight again after Roxas' part of the game is over.)
- Goenitz in The King of Fighters '96 could do desperation moves without restrictions while dealing more and receiving less damage to/from the player.
- League of Legends:
- Present, because the AI is ungodly stupid; they compensate by screwing the rules and having ungodly reflexes. The AI is somehow able to pull gold and levels out of nowhere, have high-level champions respawn as quickly as a low-level champion does, heals faster than a player does, etc. And oh yeah, they don't need to worry about several stuff that the players do? The AI bots never lag or ever have to worry about a griefer. It's likely they also get faster respawn timers, too.
- On the bright side, if you have someone who disconnects for whatever reason, an enemy bot will leave to compensate for the missing player, thus making things fair-erish. Also, while bots do gain gold at a fixed rate, this is somewhat neutral as while a bot can never be made to have low gold, they also can never be fed to have a lot of gold if a particularly bad game is going on.
- Left 4 Dead:
- Both games have the special infected AI cheat by spawning inside the safe room at the end of a level, whereas players controlling the infected are told by the game they are not allowed to to do the same thing because it's a restricted area. (A player infected can still spawn in the ending saferoom if they are auto-spawned, however.)
- The survivor AI will sometimes teleport to save other survivors form a "point of no return". Once you get past the point, there is no way to proceed further. Survivors left hanging behind sometimes get pinned by infected, and any human survivors would not be able to help the pinned survivor, even though an AI survivor can teleport back to help the pinned survivor.
- The infected AI also has a few other quirks, such as being able to occasionally claw at a survivor while being knocked back, while a human player is stunned. Hunters in particular seem to have more gameplay differences than most. They seem to be able to perform a very high non-pounce jump, usually in response to being fired at from a distance, as well as occasionally being able to immediately recover from being punched off of a victim. On the players side, Hunters are able to do complex wall-jumps that the AI is either incapable of, or not programmed to do.
- In LEGO Racers, where speed, acceleration and handling are built entirely on the car's weight and distribution thereof, Basil the Batlord (the third opponent) drives much faster than he has any right to. This might not be obvious at first, but upon facing him in a rematch with what seem to be the exact same parts, it's clear that he knows something we don't.
- Lords Of The Realm 2:
- Enemy AI nobles can make small groups of peasant armies of 10-40 troops, whereas you normally can't make an army with less than 50 men. As a result, they will often send these small armies to pillage your fields, forcing you to spend a several seasons rebuilding your fields back up.
- When your county without a castle (or defenders in them if you have one built) is attacked, a large portion of your population is forced into battle, but all you get are peasants, who are easily defeated. But if you attack an enemy county, they often have macemen, pikemen, and archers in their army.
- In Madden NFL, the AI is allowed to audible from the Wildcat formation while the human players cannot. Rather surprising, as well, in that the series has long been founded not on any "arcadish" feel, but on the philosophy of trying to provide the purest American Football video game experience possible, where every option available to any real coach/player of the game is in play.
- In Makai Kingdom, building bonuses and special weapon abilities tend to vary depending on whether you're the player or not. For instance, units deployed from an Academy gain +50% EXP for players... but enemy units instead gain a sweet level-up each turn. If an enemy hits one of your troops with a mallet, you go down a level, but the same thing doesn't happen when your troop holds the mallet.
- Mario Kart:
- Super Mario Kart has multiple differences between you and the computer players: Your car's max speed is determined by how many coins you have. You lose coins when you hit someone or fall off the track. The other cars? They don't even have coins. They can't even pick them up. So while you hitting them means you slow down, it means nothing for them besides being hit. Then there's the powerups; you have to drive over a power-up block to get a random power-up, while they don't get random power-ups, but rather each AI character has a single kind of powerup that they use at regular intervals. Donkey Kong throws banana peels, Princess Toadstool drops mushrooms, Mario and Luigi can spontaneously turn invincible, etc. They only use these powerups against you; they will only activate them if they are exactly one place in front of or one place behind the player.
The upside is that this system has advantages compared to some of the later games in the series; rivals don't deplete power-up boxes, they don't use unexpected or unexpectedly powerful attacks, and anyone more than one place ahead of or behind you can be ignored (especially important for the ones behind you, since racers closer to the back get better items). It also provides an incentive for maintaining first place: only one rival will actually attack you.
- In Mario Kart 64, the computer does not need to go over an item block to get an item. This is most evident on Toad's Turnpike, where the item blocks are all in the pit area that the computer never enters, but that doesn't stop them from leaving bananas all over the place. In addition, the computer does not get certain items: they never seem to get banana chains or any of the shells, including blue ones (note that this is a good thing). Every game after Mario Kart 64 has the AI only use items if they actually picked one up from an item box.
- The AI can get an item from an item box far faster than you can because Computers Are Fast. The reason most of the Mario Kart games are infamously known for their item spam is due to the AI being able to get and use items quickly. The player can stop the roulette wheel like the AI can to get an item sooner, but the player suffers a delay while the AI does not.
- The execrable Megaman Battle Network spinoff game Battlechip Grand Prix loves this trope. The game rules restrict the Program Deck size and slot-in capacity for the player, but these restrictions never apply to the computer—which leads to ugly surprises like Ring having Jealousy as her slot-in chip in the E-rank tournaments, when you don't actually have the memory capacity for Jealousy until after you've beaten the game.
- In Metal Gear Solid, the enemy soldiers never run out of ammo and never even have to reload. This was later averted in Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater where not only did soldiers have limited ammunition, but it was also possible to blow up their food and ammo stores, leaving soldiers in the area laughably low on ammo (forced to switch to sidearms after 30 shots), and weakened from hunger.
- Inverted, strangely enough, in Monster Galaxy. Every Mon has a special status-inducing attack. When the computer uses one, they spend a turn to do it. For humans, however, it's a free action; if it misses, you can just use it over and over again until it hits, all without ending your turn (Your turn can only end if you use one of your mon's damage-dealing attacks).
- In Mortal Kombat II, the AI jumps while its sprite is still in the "laid on the floor" animation to counter any hope of continuing a combo after a knockdown.
- MS Saga: A New Dawn has a system where you can upgrade and equip suits to fight other suits. The enemy ms's are not at all confined by your system having vastly more powerful suits and loadouts you can't duplicate.
- Ogre Battle:
- The computer is not restrained by the same level restrictions for class change as you are, and its characters can have advanced classes that they do not qualify for. The player starts the game with a number of characters who follow the same principle (because the tier 1 classes cannot lead units), but for the computer such characters are the rule rather than the exception.
- Of course, even as late as the third-to-last stage (out of thirty) — which also has The Empire's supreme commander as the stage boss — you'll be seeing classes that SHOULD have been promoted, but haven't (in this case, ninjas — which you can, arguably, get by the THIRD STAGE!). So these sort of cancel out...
- OgreBattle 64: Person of Lordly Caliber does the same thing. Also, unlike the previous game where the computer followed the cap on how many units it could deploy at once, in this game the enemy can field as many squads as it wants, despite you being limited.
- Perfect Dark features the Dark Sims in multiplayer, who combine Perfect-Play A.I. with The Computer Is a Cheating Bastard. The Dark Sims can teleport at will, fire at a faster rate than a human, and have nearly instant reload times. On top of that, they seem to peak out of corners right when you're coming around them and blast you with just enough frames for them to get back into cover. To the game's credit, it tells you that the Dark Sims can do all of this before you pick them, so at least you were warned.
- Phantasy Star III has four offensive techniques: Foi (single target), Gra (all targets), Zan (row of targets) and Tsu (column of targets). Only the first two work for both you and enemies equally; Zan and Tsu will both target your entire party, too, as nothing defines your party as being in a row or a column.
- Sid Meier's Pirates! is really foul about this. Not only is your ship ridiculously slow, even by 1660 standards, but the damn Marquis, Baron Raymondo, and everyone else on the board does not age while your player character does (with their skills going down the pan as they do).
- In the mainline games, it's fairly common to see an NPC using Pokémon evolved far earlier than they should be, or using moves they shouldn't have by that point:
- Starting with the first boss in the series, Brock has an Onix that is much lower-level than any Onix you will encounter in the game. However, Brock could have bred Onix which hatch at Level 5 or Level 1 (depending on the game), then trained them to around Level 9. While breeding was not a game mechanic in R/B/Y, their remakes imply that breeding is possible, just not in the region the originals cover.
- Lance in Gold/Silver/Crystal versions uses two Dragonite at Level 47 and a third at Level 50, while the lowest level at which a player can legitimately have one is Level 55. In Red/Blue/Yellow, his Dragonite knows Barrier, a move which is impossible for a human-owned Dragonite to learn. His Gold/Silver/Crystal Aerodactyl has Rock Slide, which that generation's players' Aerodactyl didn't have access to, but later generations did (too bad you can't trade back...). In HeartGold/SoulSilver, he has one at Level 40, two at Level 49, and one at Level 50. Dragonite can once again only be obtained at Level 55 or higher, except through an event at Level 50, which is STILL higher than three of Lance's.
- In Black/White you have the pleasure to face a Level 54 Hydreigon. Normally, its pre-evolution wouldn't evolve until Level 64. It also has perfect IVs and uses all its EVs. It will destroy your team. Earlier, Grimsley uses a Level 50 Bisharp - there is no way to legitimately get a Bisharp until 52.
- One particularly annoying example is witnessed in the Battle Tower. Should the player and the opponent be down to their last Pokémon, the Self-KO (Kamikaze) Clause comes into play, where the player loses if he or she happens to command a Pokémon to use Explosion or Selfdestruct. But say the computer decides to finish the match with an all-out Explosion? The player STILL loses without the opponent being penalized, despite the sacrificial KO being solely the fault of the computer. Similar unfairness occurs when both Pokémon faint simultaneously due to the effects of Destiny Bond or Perish Song. So if you lose, the computer wins. If you "tie" with the computer, the computer still wins. To "win" (and thus preserve streaks), you have to WIN, no questions asked.
- When attempting to escape from a wild Pokémon, you may sometimes fail if your active Pokémon is slower than the wild Pokémon you're facing. Some legendary Pokémon always attempt to flee as their first action, and unless you use a move or ability to prevent it they will always succeed, regardless of your Pokémon's speed.
On the other hand, the trainer's attempt to flee is always done at the beginning of the turn while for wild Pokémon it depends on turn order, which is based on speed.
- In Pokémon X and Y, the Legendary Bird that you're chasing note will flee the first ten encounters with the player, who does not get to use a move to try and trap it. "Trapping" Abilities like Arena Trap and Shadow Tag also do not apply to these encounters. Then, to avoid further fleeing, your only hope is to try and catch it immediately, which makes it a prime candidate for a Quick Ball or possibly, depending on your desperation, the Master Ball.
- In the first generation of games, the player's Pokémon are the only ones that can have their moves run out of PP.
- Actually downplayed in the Battle Maison for Pokémon X and Y. There are instances of abilities/items unavailable for this generation, such as Contrary Serperior or Snow Warning Aurorus note , and Jaboca Berry note , but they are examples of moves/items that were Dummied Out for some reason, not illegal moves and items per se. Playing fair: Pretty much everything else. With the exception of the above, all movesets/abilities of opponent's Pokémon are obtainable by the player, and the legendaries being used in the consecutive battles are all legal in rated battles.
- On the other hand, the player has some advantages over the computer (note that these advantages do not apply in multiplayer):
- The player has a bigger and better inventory, whereas AI-controlled trainers only have up to three items of the same kind, or no items at all.
- Unless this option is disabled for more challenge, the player is the only character in the game who can know what Pokémon their opponent will use next in a single battle, and change the current Pokémon if necessary without losing a turn.
- All status moves (like Growl or Tail Whip) have a chance of failing when the AI uses them, even if they would have perfect accuracy when used by the player.
- Enemy Pokemon in Pokémon Mystery Dungeon: Gates to Infinity are capable of evolving. However, they don't require EXP in order to do so, and will instead evolve immediately after defeating one of your party members or eating a Joy Seed, assuming their evolution is triggered by leveling. They also immediately jump up to the level required for their evolution upon doing so, which can make things quickly go from bad to worse if you're in an early dungeon that has Pokémon that evolve at high levels like Litwick, Vullaby, or Deino.
- In the NES game, if Little Mac gets knocked down three times in a match (even if it isn't the same round), no amount of button mashing will let him get up the third time. His opponents can potentially get up many more times provided it isn't three in one round for a TKO (or if you're fighting King Hippo, who never gets up from the first knockdown).
- The Wii version adjusts this: Little Mac now has three knockdowns he can recover from (barring a TKO), and can occasionally force himself up on the fourth. (A fifth will end you.) The opponents all have secret knockdown values - once exceeded, they collapse in a KO on the next knockdown.
- In all versions, Little Mac has to get to a full standing position before the KO count will stop, but the opponent only needs to twitch to stop or pause it. The only exception is the SNES Version, where the opponents can stand all the way up, only to fall back down again, and the count will keep going until they're actually up and ready to continue the fight.
- In Puzzle Kingdoms, your hero has four slots in which he can equip stat boosting items. You are limited in both type (one item each from Helm, Armor, Weapon, and Accessory) and by the point cost of each item. Computer opponents, OTOH, are given items completly at random, not only ignoring the points cap, but frequently stacking item types (which occasionally results in completely unfair combos like enemies with three shields, soaking up 90% of your attacks).
- The AI competitors in Railroad Tycoon get to build several track configurations that aren't available to human players, including stations with non-straight-through track (it can leave at a non-opposite angle and have multiple accesses - while humans are restricted to N-S (say), AI can build N-SE, N-E and N-E-W...), and diagonal bridges that can cross more than one square. In the first game, you may also run into AI-built bridges that span an entire river—lengthwise.
- In Resonance of Fate, your characters must take turns moving one at a time, but the enemies can all move at the same time. So, for every turn one of your characters take, every enemy gets a turn. The enemies are also aware of which character you're currently controlling and prefer targeting that one so you can't aim. This makes the limited run-while-shooting Hero Actions practically the only way to fight, since if you try to shoot while standing still the enemies will almost always interrupt your aim.
- One of the minigames in Ripper lets the play with different rules. It's a chess-type game where you and the computer are trying to capture each other's kings. But while the computer can move all its pieces from the beginning, the player can only use their knights after all of their pawns have been killed. The computer knows this, and will actively go out of its way to avoid capturing your pawns.
- There are plenty of Roguelike games (like Pokémon Mystery Dungeon, and the first, but not the second, Izuna game) where enemies aren't affected by traps. Most likely because their AI is so bad they tend to walk recklessly even into visible traps all the time, but it still can get annoying.
- In Seiken Densetsu 3, enemies who can use Techs can use them as a counter to your Techs/Magic, as a desperation attack when they're almost dead, or whenever they feel like it (even though the player needs to attack multiple times to use a Tech). This can be particularly dangerous near the end of the game when some mooks have Techs that can wipe out your entire party in one or two hits.
- In the majority of Shin Megami Tensei games and spinoffs, you have Physical attacks, which consume a percentage of the user's HP (Prior to Shin Megami Tensei: Strange Journey, where they use MP) and Magic attacks that use up magnetite, spirit points, or traditional MP. Naturally, Physical attacks, while powerful, will deplete your health in a hurry and are thus relatively risky to use. Enemy characters can use as many Physicals as they want and stay perfectly healthy. The only way to deny them the ability to do this is getting their HP lower than the cost of the attack; even though they don't pay the cost, they still have to have enough to pay it for it to work.
- Although it seems like a small detail to get fussy about, in Shiren the Wanderer small details can be the difference between life and death, and one of these things happens if you have party members with you when you encounter a Skull Mage. One of the random effects that can result from a Skull Mage swinging its staff at you is that you become twice as fast for a few turns. If this happens to one of your allies, they remain at double speed for much, MUCH longer than you. Enemies that obtain double speed, such as when waking up after you use a Scroll of Sleep, also retain the speed bonus for much longer than you.
- The Simpsons: Hit & Run does this. AI opponents can overtake you whilst driving an inferior car. They also don't suffer from the penalties for hitting people on the road.
- Sonic Shuffle, which, in lieu of the dice in Mario Party, uses cards. You can take cards from any player, but you can only see what your cards are when you hover over them. In spite of this, computer players know exactly what cards you have, and can/will steal the right cards from you even if they already have one they need.
- In Soul Nomad & the World Eaters, the Anti-Matter decor gives you a 90% chance to avoid taking damage, but any unit that fails to do so will be killed. Enemy units with Anti-Matter apparently don't pay attention to the second part.
- Starbase Orion, the Master of Orion clone for iOS, in a recent update, has given the player the option to enable or disable AI cheating, which is independent of difficulty levels. This allows the AI to ignore basic rules. For example, unlike Master of Orion II, Starbase Orion does not allow the refitting of ships. Instead, you can use the option to scrap an existing ship, which is turned into "industry" for the chosen planet. With cheating turned on, the AI is fully capable of upgrading ships with new tech.
- Street Fighter II:
- In the earliest versions of the game, it was not uncommon for a CPU controlled Guile to use his Flash Kick from a standing position, often as he's walking toward you. For those who don't know, the Flash Kick requires you to hold down (crouch) for two seconds, then immediately press up and a kick button, which would make this tactic completely impossible for a human player to do.
- In a similar vein, AI-controlled Balrog is able to throw out dash punches without the requisite charge command (hold back for two seconds, then forward and punch). This is arguably worse, because he can combo three dash uppers on you, taking out way more than half your life and stunning you. Effectively, if you are hit by one dash upper while on the ground, you'll lose the round no matter how much health you have.
- Blanka also does this by launching his rolling attack while walking forward. Oddly, after Turbo, while he still does that, he'll pretend to charge for his rising rolling attack.
- In the max difficulty, some CPU characters will have the starting frames of some attacks cut to zero in order to use the infamous magic priority trick. Especially noticeable in a Ryu vs. Ryu match: if you try to sweep him, he can crouch and swipe you before you complete your sweep.
- In Stunt Car Racer the computer opponent cannot crash - any collision between you and the computer will most likely result in you flying off the track while they drive on unaffected.
- Tales Series:
- Zig-zagged with mystic artes in games. In some games, you have to be in overlimit to use Mystic Artes. Bosses have to follow this rule too, although for some reason, they're able to just pull them out of nowhere as well as through overlimit. This is especially prevalent in Tales of the Abyss and Tales of Vesperia, where bosses that have Mystic Artes more often surprise the player when they suddenly pull it out of nowhere. This is also part of why that makes a certain boss in Vesperia That One Boss; because he'll use his mystic arte numerous times, and chances are, you will be caught by surprise when he pulls it out of thin-air.
- Doesn't apply in some games though - in others, enemies can use mystic artes out of nowhere or if they're programmed to as a response. (For example, in Tales of Destiny 2 and subsequent appearances, Barbatos only uses a mystic arte, No Items Ever! if the player uses an item.)
- In addition to being in Over Limit, one must also connect with a high level attack to trigger most mystic artes, but enemies don't need to do this.
- In Tales of Graces, players can pull mystic artes out of nowhere with the correct skills after meeting certain conditions. Enemies are held to the normal rules (even the hitting rule), save for a certain Easter Egg...
- In Tales of Xillia and its sequel, enemies can go Over Limit alone, while player characters must Link with eachother both to build the limit meter and to trigger Over Limit. This also means only bosses can use Mystic Artes when fighting alone. The sequel also has different Mystic Arte trigger rules for enemies. They must hit the target with an Arcane Arte, while players must use a Linked Arte.
- Team Fortress 2:
- Players made invincible cannot personally advance gameplay objectives like capping a point or moving the payload bomb. In Mann Vs Machine, robots can carry and even drop the bomb into the hole while Ubercharged.
- Engineer bots in regular gameplay are capable of clipping into the center of their Sentry guns and wrench away while human-controlled Engineers treat their own sentry as a solid entity.
- Twisted Metal 2. Enemies blatantly don't need weapon pickups and are not restricted by an energy meter. Some characters will take the freeze missile (an energy-based attack that can only be used twice on a full energy bar) and spam it. Once the first shot connects, you are frozen and unable to move while taking a minimal amount of damage from each hit until you die.
- The final boss in the No Mercy/Genocide route in Undertale - Sans, after he decides that you must be destroyed - is entirely based on this trope. For starters, they get the first turn - something literally no other enemy in the entire game can do.
- Urban Rivals has Duel mode which allows you to play against the AI (named Kate). In a normal fight, the player with the higher star count goes first. However, when battling against Kate, you go first even if your star count is lower than hers. While this puts the player at a disadvantage since screwing up your opening could make it hard to win, Kate has a tendency to use pills predictably and wildly (such as putting most of her pills on a single card). This isn't always the case though, and she will play somewhat smart occasionally.
- In Vandal Hearts 2, you are explicitly not allowed to mix magic or skills belonging to two opposite elementals (fire vs ice, light vs dark, you get the point), nor are you allowed to store an elemental magic/skill inside an opposite element weapon (dark spell in a light-elemental weapon, say). This did not stop one of the major boss of the game (Manon in this case) to do exactly just that.
- In Warlords (that is, any of the seven-plus Warlords games) the percentages are so lopsided in favor of the AI you can only accomplish a fair fight if you sacrifice ludicrous amounts of cannon-fodder at an equally powerful enemy group before launching a main assault. Interestingly, the difficulty settings do not modify the artificial intelligence, only the degree to which it cheats. Especially conspicuous, since the Warlords franchise was promised by developers and marketing alike to feature strong AI in lieu of common cheating methods; it seems they lied.
- In the fifth-gen Wipeout games, when you push an opponent off the track they will just clip through obstacles and ignore gravity while you collide with the wall or fall into the pit you tried to push them into. They also do not brake for corners and start off the race by blasting off into the distance and then slowing down.
- Thsi is present late in the game for an optional tower. Depending on the enemy, the cheat varies from casting spells that they don't have the pips (spell points), to super powered spell that do more damage than normal, to casting a defense spell on themselves during your turn. Justified though as the enemies that do cheat are in the most difficult parts of the games and are meant to be fought with a full team of level 50 (the LevelCap until Celestia was released)
- Unfortunately, a second one of these now exist and at one point in time the it was not optional to access the last world. Fortunately the developers noticed this and, instead, just made it That One Side Quest.
- In Celestia many enemies get extra pips at the start of the battle than is possible for the PCs.
- The Wonderful 101 has Prince Vorkken. Unite Guts can only block blunt attacks; in a battle with Vorkken, this applies to his Hand, his Hammer and... that's it. Vorkken, however, can block EVERY one of your attacks and will scatter your team if you hit him while he's in Guts form. In addition, he is invincible while holding any Unite Morph (while you're often at your most vulnerable with a Unite Morph), and even when he's reduced to nothing but a sword with no Morphs, he's still invulnerable during his attack animations and can even break through your entire team's Unite Guts with that sword! The last option when it comes to using your weaknesses against him would be to knock away all of the Guyzoch so that he can't make any Morphs (you require at least ten active members to do any morphs, including Guts and Spring). Even if you do this, while he will lose access to his attacks and Guts, he can somehow make a one-person Unite Spring to bounce away and stall for time while his team gets up! However, all of this may be considered justified in that, if one reads the file on Prince Vorkken, they'll find that he doesn't use Unite Morphs; he uses Unify Morphs, that they claim may be stronger than the Wonderful Ones' Unite Morphs. Recruiting Prince Vorkken and Chewgi and looking in the pause menu will even show that their special moves are called "Unify Boomerang" and "Unify Naginata".
- World of Warcraft:
- Whirlwind is a Warrior ability that strikes all targets around the user for damage that is lower than a typical weapon attack. When bosses and some enemies use Whirlwind, however, they will often spin for a few seconds, hitting anyone standing next to them multiple times for damage comparable to their typical weapon attacks, more akin to the Blade Storm talent (only accessible to Arms warriors at the very end of the talent tree, and having a cooldown of about a minute and a half). This is one of many examples of player abilities being different in bosses' hands.
- Apart from bosses, many NPCs, enemy and ally alike, roughly correspond to a specific playable class and have a handful of that class's signature abilities. However, while players' abilities have been modified, removed or had restrictions put on them, those changes haven't usually affected NPCs. Therefore it's not unusual to see them plonk down shaman totems that were removed two expansions ago, channel spells like that are now instant cast, or use old animations for spells whose animations were overhauled for players.
- This applies to racial skills too. For example, blood elf mobs in Outland still use the Mana Tap ability, which was removed for blood elf players in Wrath of the Lich King.
- NPC ships in the X-Universe series seem to possess a point-to-point jumpdrive (they spawn with the same white flash that accompanies jumpdrive use), whereas the only such drive the player can buy is jumpgate-dependent. According to Word of God this is Gameplay and Story Segregation; the official line is that only the Kha'ak have point-to-point jumpdrives, and they aren't sharing.
- In X Rebirth's, your ship (the Albion Skunk), is capable of pulling some hilariously impossible turns that would turn the pilot into red pudding when under the control of the Autopilot. NPC capital ships do not collide with each other, although this is probably a good thing considering how crowded the space around stations get; they'll still try to avoid hitting each other, though.
- Psionic attacks in the first two X-COM games (UFO Defense and Terror from the Deep) have different targeting rules between the Alien AI and the human player: For a player to psionically attack an enemy, at least one of your soldiers must see it (though not necessarily your psi user, allowing for spotter tactics). On the other hand, as soon as Aliens see any of your guys (or even a tank), they can target anyone'', including the ones still in the Skyranger.
- In Xenosaga Episode I, enemies seem to get unlimited boosts that completely fudge the order of character and enemy turns. Its sequels, luckily, restrict them.
- Some of the Yu-Gi-Oh! games allow the AI to break the limit rules, allowing the AI to build illegal decks with multiple copies of game-breaking cards you're only allowed one copy of. In World Championship 2004 the Rare Hunters all have decks with three copies each of Raigeki and Dark Hole - both of which destroy everything on your field at a moment's notice. 7 Trials to Glory was far worse- having Shadow Duels where any enemy could build such illegal decks, like Yami Marik - who had three copies each of the hideously broken Black Luster Soldier - Envoy the Beginning and Chaos Emperor Dragon - Envoy the End; both of which basically ended the duel once they hit the field.
- This trope gets subverted once you realize that while in that area with Shadow Duels, you are also allowed to build and use an illegal deck.
- Madden Mobile doesn't give humans the ability to call audibles but if you're up against a computer that constantly calls running plays, try and call a blitz package and watch them line up, pause, then blatantly change their formation.
- The agents in The Matrix can manipulate the world around them to perform their enforcing job - though some people can cheat back.
- ReBoot: the world inside a computer uses this trope all the time with its Game Cubes. The pinnacle of this is during a Pokémon style game, where Matrix and Bob utterly ignore the "Mons vs Mons" rule and go straight for the User handler.
- In a literary example, XB-223, the navigational computer in The Red Tape War moves chess pieces when Pierce isn't looking, and deals whatever cards it wants in card games rather than using a random-number generator. Pierce caught on a long time ago. Nobody else has.
- During the Canadian Football League's American expansion years, the American teams were exempted from the "import ratio" rules (More than half the team's roster had to be Canadian) and were not subject to Canada's much-higher income tax. This gave the American teams a massive advantage via the number of NFL-level players they could sign. It's how the Baltimore Stallions could win the 1995 Grey Cup after existing for only two years. Proposals to address that imbalance were in the works when most of the American teams folded (With the exception of Baltimore, who moved and became the new Montreal Allouettes)