"Cheat wherever you can. A.I.s are handicapped. They need to cheat from time to time if they're going to close the gap... Never get caught cheating. Nothing ruins the illusion of a good A.I. like seeing how they're cheating."
The computer player is a cheating bastard whenever the "rules" differ between you and AI-controlled opponents. This can be a quick-and-dirty method of achieving a "level" playing field against a skilled human player (especially in older games, where hardware and AI capabilities were limited and prone to Artificial Stupidity), but can also create Fake Difficulty when the computer has access to moves that a human player (in the same context) clearly does not.
In ZX Spectrum forums such as comp.sys.sinclair, this phenomenon (real or imagined) is known as "cheatingbastness".
Some games have even used the fact that their AI is not a cheating bastard as a selling point. Conversely, arcade versions of games ("quarter munchers") often cheat more than home console versions.
The Computer Is a Cheating Bastard does not include "fair challenges" of the game (wide pits, powerful / numerous enemies, etc.); those are Real Difficulty. Likewise, one should not accuse the computer of cheating simply because it plays to a computer's natural strengths (lightning reflexes, omniscient knowledgeof the game rules, and so forth), or because you have a single streak of bad luck. Consistent bad luck, however, may be a sign that the computer is using the RNG to cheat. On the other hand, some cheats can actually work to the player's advantage, such as with the Rubberband AI or plain old Cheat Codes.
Note that this is not a place to complain about enemies that have skills you don't have, or about how unlucky you are and how many times you missed (unless the computer has a different chance of missing with the same skill), or about how hard That One Boss is, or how the computer is actually half decent at some of the game's more advanced maneuvers that you happen to suck at. This is only for scenarios where it would be expected for the player and the AI to be on even footing. For example, in the campaign of a strategy game, it would be natural for the computer to outnumber you and/or have more resources than you - that's part of the challenge of a campaign. However, in free battle or skirmish mode, a computer starting with more resources than you is usually cheating, since you would expect to be on even footing with the computer (unless you can set what everyone starts with).
Heel Face Downgrade is an example of Gameplay and Story Segregation, where the enemy you fight and the one who joins your team are two different characters, even when the story says they're one and the same. It's not an example of cheating unless the character is generic and the version your enemy has is explicitly stronger than yours.
Sometimes this is justified due to the Rule of Fun. Computers are often prevented from using certain tactics that are open to the player, either because it's "cheap" when your enemies do it or there's no freaking way that a computer could manage to pull it off at a crucial moment. In order to make up the gap and still present a challenge, cheating is required. Ironically, players often think the AI is cheating when it isn't, such as strings of good luck from a RNG that is actually perfectly fair, while not noticing at all the subtle and behind-the-scenes ways that the computer is actually cheating. In fact, some games deliberately manipulate the RNG in the player's favour just to avoid the appearance of cheating.
Sub-category of Fake Difficulty. See also Rubberband AI, Nintendo Hard, Random Number God, Computers Are Fast, Perfect Play A.I., Gang Up on the Human, The GM Is A Cheating Bastard. For when In-UniverseAIs have these justified abilities, see The Singularity.
Note: when adding examples here, please make sure whatever you're planning to claim is actually true, meaning you have hard data saying there is cheating going on, not just some vague feeling that you alwayshurt yourself in confusion and the AI never does. The phenomenon making you feel that way is almost definitely confirmation bias, as any of the various people who have done actual testing with hundreds of data points can tell you.
Almost every game that can have this trope does, so please post notable examples only. A game cheating on higher difficulty levels doesn't count (you asked for it), nor does a computer cheating in your favour (not a bastard). Also, some games give what would otherwise be cheating an in-story justification, or it may be required for the plot that you must lose that fight.
Note: These are generic examples. They give ways the The Computer Is a Cheating Bastard trope manifests, not specific instances in specific games. See the "Specific Examples" section further down for case studies.
... has great range on all its weapons, while yours have the range of flicked pebbles.
... is never surprised.
... starts with equipment you have to go find.
... knows where movable objectives like the flags in capture-the-flag are, even if nobody on their team has yet seen them.
... knows the state of weapons and power-ups at all times so it can go for them the instant they respawn, or worse yet, knows the exact value of the respawn timer and will plan its path to snatch the items leaving no window for anyone else.
... has bullets which never drift or deviate, while yours seem to bend around the NPCs.
... has unavoidable/unblockable attacks that you can never have.
... can use moves from impossible positions.
... can move/attack faster than you.
... can strike with priority wherever it feels like it, even with moves that are shunned from the competitive scene for having low or no priority at all.
... can instantly use moves that require human players to execute a complex command. (Theoretically, it could have begun the command string in advance, but that excuse goes right out the window if it executes the move mere milliseconds after doing something that would disrupt said command string.)
... will always know exactly where all invisible characters are — both its and yours.
... can use its special attacks more frequently than you, and its Desperation Attack with more health than you.
... can deal more damage when using the same character and the same attacks you use under the same circumstances.
... can do combos that are impossible for the player.
... can dizzy/stun the player more often than he is allowed to do the same.
... can revive itself after you went through hell to beat it.
... will do any of the above (that are applicable) Up to Eleven if the player can't see them at the moment.
Note: Since The Computer Is a Cheating Bastard is so incredibly common, only egregious examples should be listed here, otherwise this entry would take over the entire wiki. Aversions or subversions should probably be left out as well, since that's (hopefully) the default.
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The original Civilization for the PC has a lot of ways for the computer to get a huge advantage over you:
1) Improvements in the Emperor Level are about a third of the cost for the computer.
2) Technologies are discovered at alarming rates.
3) Wonders can be built almost instantly.
4) The computer's caravans are transported instantaneously.
5) The computer never has production penalties despite city-wide riots.
6) Your Triremes sink if they end their turn too far from shore. Computer controlled ones can sail across the Atlantic with no problem.
7) The computer can build spaceships without the required technology
It also seems that the game tries to force averages to occur. Try using saves to make sure you always win. If your win chance is 50%, your chance of winning the first fight is 50%, right? Right. Second fight (after your unit is healed), displayed chance to win is still 50%—but try saving before it and loading. Your chances are closer to 25%. Winning a third fight in a row is likely to have even worse odds—but the displayed chance to win is still 50%. The question exists, does it work in reverse also? Sacrifice a dozen or so units for a run of good luck?
What you're seeing here is a bug in the game due to a programmer who doesn't understand probability theory. The displayed battle odds are calculated by the naive method of multiplying each unit's hitpoints by the odds of winning a single round of combat, and using that ratio as the odds of winning the battle. The actual odds of winning, based on the battle mechanics, are much harder to calculate, and can deviate significantly from the displayed odds: your "95% victory" fight might actually be a "0.1% victory". Once you do them right, though, it becomes clear that the computer isn't cheating in battle, just lying through statistics.
For context, units fight multiple rounds within a single combat until one dies. Thus winning one round in actuality only reduces the opponent by a certain amount of HP. So while a unit with low life may have a 50% chance of winning a round, if they can be killed with one hit, the first hit they take in combat (pretty likely at 50%) will kill them.
In the Civilization sequels, the game manual actually details exactly how much the computer cheats and in what areas at various difficulty levels.
Here is a video that explains the AI cheating of Civilization 3 and 4 in more depth (25 minutes in), as well as the reasons they were designed that way.
There's also an example of Hoist by His Own Petard. In Civ 3, the computer can see through the fog of war and always attacks the city with the least defense. By moving units just outside of a city faraway, you can trick the AI into marching back and forth without attacking any cities.
You can't see strategic resources on the map in Civ 3 until you have the skills to use them. The AI can see them all right from the start of the game though, and will make an effort to build cities next to them to give itself an advantage later on.
Often, the AI will have building towns in the middle of the desert for oil as a very important priority during the expansion phase.
In Civ 4 this also works for you, the blue rings for city suggestions on your settler often uses the resources around to make it a good choice. In really rare occasions it will suggest empty fields, just to find iron, coal, uranium and oil once you have the appropriate techs.
Also in Civ 3, the AI have their production phase after their turn instead of at the start of the next turn; or more precisely, you always have the first turn, which means the turn order goes You->AI's->Your Production Phase->AI's Production Phases->You Again, which means that they can hurry units and have them produced before your next move, while you can't, as the production phase for the units you hurried won't occur until after the AI takes their turn. You can tell when they did this because they haven't had the chance to fortify the unit yet. Sometimes, while you're fighting an AI civ, one of the cities you took will revolt back to them during your production phase, which spawns a defensive unit in that city- and they'll draft two more defensive units and rush a fourth that still completes before your turn.
If you cheat so that you can control the enemies cities, you will see that despite having far inferior cities, they have huge commerce and production bonuses, making them far better than yours.
However, in the interest of fairness, the player can cheat mechanically too — one of the ways lower difficulty levels are made easier is by giving the player free Happiness and Health.
Computers in Civ4 will always know what you have access to, what you have explored, etc, and use this to become massive cheapskates in trade. If you have no access to horses and thus decided not to research Horseback Riding for awhile, the computer will do everything in their power to push the technology down your throat while making off with as much of your gold and technology as they can. And you can be sure that the computer will never offer their world map at a halfway decent price unless you've already explored everything they have.
For example, the AI will pop up with a ton of trade requests for your world map if you find a second continent. While a smart human would know you would find it some dozen turns after you sent that galley off to the side of the map, they wouldn't know when you found and mapped a good portion of the new world with the crazy precision the AI does.
If the computer uses nuclear weapons against the player or another AI then they take the "you nuked our friend" relationship modifier. If the player uses nuclear weapons they get a reputation hit with EVERY civilization, even their worst enemies.
A subtle one in Civ5: You can't place a new city within 4 hexes of a pre-existing one. Your computer opponents? Don't have that problem.
More on Civ 5: on the nice side, no matter how rampantly the AI cheats on higher difficulties, they will never build wonders at accelerated speed; not even on Deity (although their other advantages will certainly help them build wonders sooner). On the not-so-nice side, the computer's happiness and maintenance costs are always as though the computer were playing on Chieftain ("Beginner"), so even if you're playing on Warlord ("Easy"), they still have an edge for happiness and gold. This is pretty obvious; press F9 on the first turn and your civ will already be in dead last for approval. Ever wonder why an AI can expand so much faster than you when you're playing on "Normal"? Wonder no more. Also an example of The Computer Is A Lying Bastard since the game implies that Normal is fair.
Free Civ, the open source version on Civilisation has the AI settings "Experimental" and "Cheating".
Final Fantasy Tactics
Final Fantasy Tactics Advance has some boss enemies who are granted immunity from the game's law system, while you're stuck playing by the rules. Ice abilities are illegal for the battle? The boss will laugh while casting Blizzaga every turn and the judge will just yellow card him repeatedly. Some other characters are given ribbons, granting them immunity from the law.
What's even worse is that in the Judgemaster extra missions, you almost got this yourself. But since Good Is Dumb, Marche and Cid bust the Judge before he could bestow you with it.
In fairness, after completing the main storyline of the game and continuing on the bonus missions, you have the chance to add Judgemaster Cid to your party. Let's not mince words: Judgemaster Cid isn't just a cheating bastard, he's a cheating bastard who enables the rest of your party to be cheating bastards. Cid's most useful ability is hands down Abate, which skips the Judge's turn, allowing you to break any laws you want without any repercussions until the judge's next turn (given that judges average one turn to three turns for every other unit on the field, this adds up to a sizable chunk of the battle).
In Final Fantasy Tactics A2, enemies will regularly be given 'bonus' turns at the beginning of a battle before you can act in any way, on top of their statistically unlikely shenanigans. Probably the worst of it is the fourth round in the Brightmoon Tor, where the enemy is given twelve bonus turns, Game Breaker abilities that cost no MP, and massive level advantages that did not exist in the previous stages. One of these abilities casts Haste and Protect on their entire party, resulting in an approximate minimum of twenty-four bonus turns before you can do anything.
In the PSP remake of Final Fantasy Tactics, 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. They'll hit you back and more than likely screw you over.
Grand Prix is tough but fair. In GX's Story Mode, however, everything is stacked against you. Everything.
And then you realize that that post refers to the easiest difficulty level, and that there are two more to beat. And those are the ones that net you the unlocks.
There is no way to understate the insanity that is this race in Master Difficulty. Since F-Zero tracks are sometimes upside down, it is possible for the AI cars to go so fast that they'll actually KNOCK YOU OUT OF THE COURSE, causing an instant One-Hit Kill.
In the original, you've got blatant cheating by ALL vehicles on Master mode. All vehicles can go max speed with perfect handling. If you are ahead of them, they are always right behind you, barely off the screen. Always.
Also in the original, computer vehicles (on all difficulties) are utterly invincible. You can knock the AI off the track into what should be an instant, unavoidable death, and they will literally drive on the air, pass through the guard rails, and continue on as if nothing happened. They take full advantage of this as well, behaving more like deterrents to your survival than actual competitors hoping to win the race.
Mario Kart 7 is the biggest offender yet (which is saying a lot, honestly). There was an exploit that has been discovered in the Maka Wuhu track that allows you to skip one section of the track. Pull it off, and the CPU pack is no less than 5 seconds behind you when you are ferried onto the upper section of the course, rendering the entire exploit moot in 1-player mode.
Though, to be fair, the human did cheat first in this instance.
In Super Mario Kart, the AI opponents didn't just have Rubber Band A.I., but had infinite stores of super-special weapons and items that in several cases the player was never able to use — namely, the poisoned mushrooms, dinosaur eggs, and meandering fireballs. Then there's the Mario brothers, who could activate Stars at will, making them nigh-impossible to beat if they were in the lead. For the items the player could launch, the AI opponent also had the ability to dodge by jumping the kart its own height above the track. They also out right clip through course obstacles like Thwomps and pipes while you need a Star to smash through the same things yourself. The only thing they they can bump into that slows them down are the walls, and that's if you push them hard enough into a wall. Furthermore, the Grand Prix mode would select an order of skill for each of the computer-controlled players, based on your own character selection. If one of the Mario Bros. were picked as the "champion" racer (which happened if you chose Bowser or Koopa Troopa), you could expect perfect racing lines and cornering coupled with infinite and arbitrary use of the Super Star, allowing them to go at increased speed with no slowing down, plus invincibility. Having one of the plumbers trigger this on the final stretch, powering either past or through the player and being unable to stop regardless of what's fired at them (or even more annoyingly, just as that red shell was about to knock them out of first place) meant that it was often easier just to start a new game and hope you didn't get one of them as the top racer again.
The character selection in Super Mario Kart is arbitrary. The order of the racers is chosen by which racer you chose, it's the same every time. You can alter it but knocking them down a few places in the last lap, and then crossing the finish line before they catch up. If the screen fades to black before they overtake anyone, they are stuck in that position. It's a decent strategy when playing as Bowser to knock either Mario or Luigi down to 4th place or lower just before the finish line. Preferably both.
In Mario Kart: Super Circuit, whichever AI racer has the most cup points at the time will get their special powerups more often. Luigi and Bowser will always start with "champion" level skills, but if you attack them and cause them to lose to other AI racers, the new points leader among AI will take up the "champion" mantle instead. If Yoshi or Mario get this points lead, they'll start to spam consecutive Super Stars from nowhere and finish races 5 seconds ahead of the rest of the pack. Conversely, since poor AI Wario always starts in the back of the pack, he's rarely seen using items at all and is doomed to finish last every race.
Another ability the computers have in Super Mario Kart and Mario Kart 64 is the ability to instantly recover from items as long as they weren't on screen when the item hit. The best items would simply stop computers for a moment if you couldn't see them, while the same items used on you would make you fly through the air.
Choco Mountain. The final part of the track involves a few item crates, a 90 degree turn, and then three "hills". You better be lucky and get a mushroom from those crates, else once you jump from the first hill, you'll collide with the second and third ones, while the CPUs that are right behind you (thank you rubber-band AI) magically have enough speed to jump both. Not getting a mushroom in those crates indeed makes the difference between being first or fifth in this race.
Apparently, the computer player chosen to be the first-placer in Mario Kart DS always has a maxed-out speed stat, regardless of what the kart they're driving should have. This makes characters that drive karts with already high acceleration (Dry Bones) nearly impossible to beat. This may be because the designated top 3 are given boosts in top speed with the first placer given the biggest boost. If it happens to be a kart with high acceleration, your only chance of winning is to snake, simply put. CPUs in Mario Kart DS will also move back into place if another kart knocks them away in midair.
The AI in Mario Kart: Double Dash!! seems to entirely ignore the weight system and kart stats — heavy karts (the only ones available to large characters such as Bowser) all have crappy acceleration but high top speeds. Go ahead, knock Bowser off the track. Invariably, he'll be right on your ass in no time flat — despite the nice long stall that getting put back on the track gives you, and the fact that his crappy acceleration should leave him far behind a cart that's already running at top speed with no slowdowns. In fact, most of the karts in Double Dash!! can reach ridiculous speeds trying to keep up with a human player in first, which can give a second human player further down the pack an extremely hard time when it comes to clawing their way back to the front.
Ditto Petey Piranha, often a thorn in the side in two-player GP races at 150cc due to his ludicrous bursts of speed and acceleration.
In Mario Kart 64, computer players just used items at random rather than actually using the item boxes. This actually worked out well for the player (despite lack of realism, since they would never use certain items), since the distribution was fair. In DS and Wii, they actually use the item boxes, which means the last-place players are constantly getting the good stuff. So this is actually an instance where having the AI follow the rules actually made the game seem less fair (though technically it's more fair).
Moreover, the computers' finishing positions aren't actually determined by the order in which they cross the finish line; rather, it's what position they're currently in when the last human player finishes and ends the race. For example, you finish in 1st place and Mario is in 3rd, but he falls back to 5th place before the results screen shows up, it will still show him finished in 3rd due to being in that spot when the player finished.
Just let the AI get behind you with Star Power. It's like you're being tracked by a homing missile.
Of course, all the items are at general, aimed at you, with only the occasional shot toward other AI and accidental hits if they drive the same racing line. It gets ridiculous when one sees the second place racer throw a red shell (which only homes if thrown forward in most installments, and even then, only after someone passes it) backwards towards a player-controlled third place kart when the first place kart could be easily overtaken if only the shell were thrown forward instead.
It couldn't be more obvious than when you play a team race in Mario Kart Wii with AI opponents, and your computer-controlled teammates start aiming shells and bananas at you.
On the bright side, if you and a computer-controlled player have the same amount of points, it will be in favor of you. So if you and Donkey Kong are tied for 1st place with 32 points each, you'll be in first place.
In Mario Kart Wii, the AI racers almost always skip the item roulette, allowing them to use their item while you're still waiting for yours. You can do the same by pressing the "use item" button during the roulette, but the complete lack of ever even hinting at this means the AI is using its superior game-mechanic knowledge against you.
The Blooper item in later games is a notable exception. For human players, it's little more than a nuisance, but it will cause the AI to start randomly swerving side-to-side like drunk drivers, slowing them down significantly.
There are rare occasions in Mario Kart 7 where the player is in 1st place and the CPU racer in 3rd launches a Red Shell, which then ignores the CPU racer in 2nd and targets the player.
NPCs, even ones with no plot significance, often have Pokémon that learned powerful moves about five levels early. In later games, Pokémon learning moves early is actually justified — a skilled breeder can get level-up moves and moves the Pokémon otherwise couldn't know (Egg moves) bred onto Level 5 (and, from Generation IV onward, Level 1) Pokémon if the father knows it, so presumably the computer-controlled trainers bred their own. While the player can't do this at first, many Tournament Play fans use this in the Metagame.
NPCs in Generation I could never run out of PP. Have fun with the Elite Four-Champion Gauntlet...
Speaking of the Elite Four, Lance's Dragonite in Generation I has Barrier. Go on. Check. Done? Yep. Dragonite's line has forever been incapable of learning Barrier, no matter how much breeding you do. What's more, in Generation II, his Aerodactyl knows Rock Slide, which it couldn't learn until FireRed and LeafGreen.
In a similar vein, various characters have Pokémon that have evolved at levels lower than their designated evolution level, if you were to train up its pre-evolution. Also Justified in that various areas contain wild evolved Pokémon at lower levels than ought to be possible, allowing the player to catch them — the NPCs may have caught their Pokémon in places the player simply hasn't been to.
Ghetsis in Pokémon Black and White has a Hydregion ten levels lower than the level Zweilous axtually evolves into Hydreigon.
Thankfully, this has finally been fixed in Generation V. In the Battle Subway in Pokémon Black/White, if you get a simultaneous knock-out, you can keep going... similar to the rule from the N64 Pokémon Stadium games. Yes, Game Freak ignored the very own rules they created so they could make things more unfair to the player!
The Pokemon World Tournament in B2/W2 is no better. Opponent Pokémon will know moves they shouldn't and higher stats than they should.
And to screw with you even more, the matchups tend to pit you against opponents whose Pokémon have a general type advantage. For example, if you're participating in a single battle tournament with a Serperior, a Volcarona and a Hydreigon, chances are you'll be pitted against a Bug Type Gym Leader in the first turn, as Bug Types hold a type advantage against Serperior and Hydreigon; for the Volcarona, chances also are that at least one of the opponent's Pokémon will know a convenient Water, Flying or Rock-type move too. And then, by some miracle that you do beat that Gym Leader, you'll find your next opponent just happens to be an Ice Type user (again with at least one Pokémon that knows a move that's super effective against your Volcarona) and so on...
Additionally, one of the most obvious examples of this trope happens when using Zoroark first, while having a Ghost-type Pokemon as your last slot in your party. Zoroark's ability Illusion makes it appear the same as the last Pokemon in your party, complete with the same name. In the Battle Subway, neither player is supposed to know what the opponent's team is composed of. However, when facing any Pokemon (for example Alakazam, a Psychic-type) as Zoroark with a Ghost-type Pokemon's name an appearance (for example Spiritomb, a Dark/Ghost type), the computer will always choose to perform a Fighting-type attack to the fake Ghost. Note that this exact example is not uncommon, and that while Dark and Ghost are both super effective against Psychic, the opponent's Pokemon stays on the field to do a Fighting-type move that the Dark/Ghost Pokemon would be completely immune to, had it not been a Zoroark using Illusion.
Although this may not always happen, resulting in a situation such as a Gallade repeatedly using Psycho Cut against a "Crobat" (Zoroark).
Pokémon Stadium also has a check in place to catch players cheating; if the player uses a Pokémon with an impossible move set or its stats are higher than it's supposed to be, the game declares that Pokémon illegal and won't allow the player to use it. Naturally, the AI has hacked move sets up the ass and possibly hacked stats as well. In other words, you're punished for cheating, but the AI is free to cheat as much as it wants.
Pokemon Stadium 2 goes the extra mile in cheating. All of the rentals in Pokemon Stadium 2 are effectively useless. The AI has hacked movesets and hacked stats; the rentals available to you have stats that are about 10% lower than they should be and the evolved pokemon know utterly useless attacks. Unevolved rentals know decent attacks, but have far more pitiful stats that render them even more useless than their evolved counterparts. It is pretty much impossible to make any progress in Pokemon Stadium 2 without using homegrown Pokemon- as long as they're not from a Yellow Version... the game is known to delete saved games on Yellow Versions.
There's one particularly annoying quirk in that the opponent gets to decide his moves after you use any items or send out any Pokémon. It leads to the very annoying problem of not being able to cure a Pokémon of confusion as, when you do, the opponent uses Confuse Ray on it again, despite that there's no way he'd use it normally!
When you battle a Shadow Pokémon, it will have all four of its moves, but when you catch it, you're stuck with only Shadow Rush.
Due to the increased number of Shadow moves available during Cipher's second coming, this is done away with in XD.
Last Resort, introduced in Generation IV, is a powerful move usable after every other move has been used by the Pokémon at least once. NPCs can use it early, though.
Try using the Mean Look/Perish Song combo on a Trainer with multiple Pokémon. When you switch your Pokémon out to avoid getting KOed by Perish Song, your opponent does the exact same thing, despite the trapping effect not allowing switching. note To elaborate: Perish Song is a technique that makes both Pokémon faint after three turns. Mean Look is a technique that prevents switching. By using Mean Look, then using Perish Song, the opponent's Pokémon will faint on the third turn, while you can switch out just before the final turn to avoid fainting. For human players, the player who is trapped has their switching function disabled. For the computer, however, as long as you switch out, they can switch as well.note The only possible explanation is that when you make your move, if you chose to switch Pokémon, the trapping effect from Mean Look is disabled, then the computer is allowed to choose its moves. This means that the computer's switching function is no longer disabled, and they can escape Perish Song. This never works for human players, meaning the computer literally does cheat the system.
Particularly in the Masters Battle part of Pokémon Battle Revolution; the computer players have an uncanny ability to know precisely what Pokémon the player is going to switch to or use at any given moment.
The slot machines in the Game Corners are based on Japanese pachisuro machines (see the Real Life section), and thus they will slip to prevent paying out a winning combination. However, the slots in the Japanese versions of HeartGold and SoulSilver take this Up to Eleven: They'll actually continue spinning well after you hit the button (even if it takes more than a half-revolution) to force two Poké Balls or two 7's to line up on the first two reels, then force the third reel to avoid lining up a third 7 or Poké Ball to achieve a near miss. This would actually be highly illegal to program into a real pachisuro machine.
Emerald is also a blatant offender. It introduced the Battle Frontier, and set the standard for all subsequent games. It has multiple Gym Leaders with Pokémon they should not have at certain levels, such as Winona's Altaria. To top it all off, regular trainers, in Victory Road, have completely impossible movesets. One in particular is absurd: a Lanturn in a Double Battle knows NOTHING BUT EARTHQUAKE, a move it cannot learn in the first place.
In Pokémon Rumble Blast, bosses have huge amounts of health, are so much larger than ordinary Pokémon that they can move much faster than you and their attacks (which are also scaled up in both range and power) almost always hit you if you're anywhere nearby, and frequently have the most powerful attacks for their types even near the beginning of the game when you can only get the lower power attacks. If you defeat them and manage to befriend them, they have ordinary health, ordinary levels, and the most common move strength for that point in the game.
In one of the bonus downloadable tournaments in Black and White 2 (which is as of yet only available in Japan), Fantina's Giratina is in its Origin Forme but is holding a Ghost Gem. Giratina can only be in Origin Forme if it is holding a Griseous Orb.
In Generation I, your rival's Pidgey evolves into Pidgeotto at Level 18. This is perfectly normal, yet for some reason the remakes decreased its level by 1 the first time you fight Pidgeotto. And Pidgey doesn't evolve until Level 18, making an evolved Level 17 Pidgeotto impossible. It is possible that your rival simply caught a different Pidgeotto in the wild, but it is heavily implied otherwise.
Salamence from Pokémon Ranger ignores your starter's assist, despite that an Electric-type attack should deal normal damage.
Lysandre's Gyarados in X and Y knows Iron Head and Outrage, which are both moves that it could only learn via the Move Tutors in Black 2 and White 2— in other words, moves that are unobtainable in Gen VI outside of the use of Poke Bank, a service which would not be up for over two months after the release of the games.
Also in X and Y the computer opponents in the Battle Maison can use Contrary Serprior or Snow Warning Aurorus, Pokemon with unreleased hidden abilities that have not been released legitimately yet. They also can use currently unavailable items too like the Jaboca Berry.
In the Cianwood gym in GSC there is a Machoke that uses Rockslide. Machoke can't learn Rockslide no matter what you do.
Note: Since The Computer Is a Cheating Bastard is so incredibly common, only egregious examples should be listed here, otherwise this entry would take over the entire wiki. Aversions or subversions should probably be left out as well, since that's (hopefully) the default.
The computer also knows what effect clocks will have. If you see a clock, and don't see the computer gunning for it, when you pick it up, it will slow you down. The same can be said for Poke Balls and assist trophies.
The Dragoon Parts are easier to drop when a human player is attacked, but the computer can hold onto them through a lot more attacks.
In the Street Fighter series, there are moves known as "charge moves" which require holding the joystick in a certain direction for a short period. The computer, however, doesn't have to do this and can often perform a charge move in the middle of moving in the opposite direction, such as using Blanka's charge-back roll attack while walking forward. This also applies to "spin" moves (moves which require a 180 degree, 360, or more cycle of joystick motion). Most obvious the 3,000th time Zangief hits you with a full-strength spinning piledriver (the "air" version, triggered by any upwards joystick click, is approximately 3/4 the damage of the ground version).
The charge move behavior has been fixed in later Capcom fighters, such as Vampire Savior. But perhaps as a throwback to the cheating AI in Street Fighter 2, Little Red Riding Hood Baby Bonnie Hood has a super move that enables her to use her high-damaging charge attack, Smile & Missile, without charging (replacing her normal punch attacks) for a short period of time.
In Street Fighter The Movie (the gameof the movieof the game), when fighting M. Bison at the end, there was a fairly high chance that if the player was winning, Bison would stop taking damage from player attacks, or insta-kill the player with a weak attack, or the player would take damage from his own attacks.
Another from Street Fighter II: AI opponents could deliver a barrage of crouching kicks at lightning speed. Fortunately for the player, the AI will usually only connect once, which sends the player's fighter flying away from the opponent.
On any match after the first few, you cannot throw the computer unless it's stunned or immobilized. It would always throw you instead. In early revisions, it would even throw you when it was incapacitated. You could freeze the CPU solid with your ice ball, but if you tried to throw it, it would throw you back while still looking frozen. An opponent dazed for "Finish Him!" If you accidentally did a throw, he'd still throw you back. And if that took you to no life, you'd lose. Absolutely hilarious, unless you are the one it happened to.
Whenever you did Scorpion's screen side shifting teleport, the computer would turn around and send a projectile your way... before you even left your side of the screen. Humans can't do this, but actually have to wait for you to wrap around before they turn around. However, if your screen wrapping teleport failed because you were backed into the corner... it would still turn around and fire the other way! Unless you were playing against a character with a really fast projectile recovery, this resulted in you getting a free chance to harpoon the computer. Hilarity Ensues.
Heaven forbid your feet leave the ground. You want to jump forward? They will jump kick you out of the air. You want to jump back? Prepare to eat a projectile. (Though those who could warp attack like Smoke and Scorpion could jump back, cancel into the warp and smack the computer silly when they inevitably fireballed).
In Mortal Kombat 3, Kano and Liu Kang could pull their special charging moves almost instantly, sometimes several times in the row. Liu Kang could do several bicycle attacks and then finish you with a combo. Kano could do his spinning attack twice, and sometimes when you were in mid-air.
One textbook case vessel of the trope and a bane to most players is Jade in UMK3 who activates her invincibility technique the instant you throw a projectile at her. It doesn't help that when she activates this, she actually runs at you in the instant she does without any warning whatsoever and devastates you with her uber-long combo with no resistance and does so with impeccable timing.
Some more things that are painfully obvious are that occasionally, when you're in the middle of a combo, the AI will throw you before you finish it. Naturally, this is not normally possible. Another case is that if you get them with a spear/hook from Scorpion or Smoke, then attempt to jump over them, they'll attack you while they should still be stunned. Finally, in some situations, the AI will kick you or block your attacks in an Endurance match. They'll do this when they're supposed to be down and the second fighter is onscreen, by the way.
Mortal Kombat 9 (2011) lives up to its predecessors in cheating bastardness. Enemies can counter your moves the INSTANT you throw them and can seemingly block EVERYTHING you throw at times, but that isn't the worst part. The worst part is the bosses. If a boss throws an attack of ANY kind, he becomes immune to being stunned. You jump kick Kintaro in the face while both of you are airborne? Too bad he just started his air throw, so you're getting slammed in the ground. And in Challenge tower levels where there are random powerups being dropped you can almost guarantee that they will be dropped behind the CPU, ESPECIALLY if the CPU is near death.
Not to mention, the absolute pain in the ass that is Shao Kahn. Most of his attacks are unblockable, though he can block the player's attacks without actually needing to block with his arms. He is capable of unleashing health-bar killing attack strings that are unavoidable, unbreakable, and unblockable once started, and his X-ray attack can take out half of the player's health-bar. Add the fact that he is ridiculously fast and barely registers your character's attacks, and he's a boss who can take you out in a manner of seconds!
Dynasty Warriors games have the bad habit of allowing the computer controlled opponent to recover or receive random power-ups in a duel...where there is no feasible manner in which they could have obtained these items, as there are no boxes or dead enemy soldiers in duel mode.
And then we have Dynasty Warriors Online. Let's not beat around the bush, the computers cheat like a Mississippi gambler(no offense to Mississippi), but a sack of bricks is smarter than than the A.I. (where Mississippi outshines the computer). They collect resources from no source at all, and you can very visibly see while beating them up as it alerts you when they pick up flasks (needed for in battle upgrades). On the other hand this time it's justified because the A.I. simplemindedly pursues one goal: capturing bases. Bases don't give anything until you capture them and even then it's health regeneration, so it balances out.
Also, musou generals. These characters don't show up normally, they are the original cast of the dynasty warriors game from 5, but when they do they are hard. They use their original movesets, and aside from a few choice weapons this is impossible for players, but they have ungodly stats. They have high health, high defense, high attack, high damage. This makes them hard, and capable of killing all but tanks in one or two hits. Then they have high flinch resistance, which means you can't prevent from attacking by knocking them around. This makes them very hard to defeat without using a weapon who's build is designed around around it. This would be much worse if not for, again, the fact that they only show up on special occasions. Thankfully, unlike players, you only have to beat them once in one match. After that, they're gone for good.
The empires series. Pretty much every game has at least one advantage the player will never have.
DW 4 E gives you a maximum of 10 officers and 10 Lieutenants. Your enemies? 3 officers and 3 Lieutenants for every territory they have. On the flip side, you never lose your officer maximum. even i you're down to one territory.
DW 6 E makes enemies never not have the troops they need. Even if you taunt them for years at a time. The only time it will be ungodly unfair in your favor is if your officers are several levels above theirs.
In the main games, enemies will sometimes reappear in the same battlefield. While it's sometimes justified via story (Meng Huos seven defeats), some are not (Zhang Liao has reappeared on the battlefield).
Sometimes your strongest general manages to fall to a footsoldier just because you didn't get there in time. And that same general, on another faction's story, manages to endure FIVE WAVES OF ENEMIES in that same map.
Lu FUCKING Bu! Everytime he appears you can only think "I'm doomed!", as he takes down your allies one by one. But when you get to play as him... He's not that strong. Yet he is ALWAYS the strongest one when used by the CPU.
Inversion with Tadakatsu Honda. He is a decent challenge in the hands of the CPU. But for a player using them? It's like a walk in the park with a walking brick wall with a library of powerful moves! And that is not even getting to his Special Actions!
Dragon Balllicensed games have this during story missions. For instance, some characters in later stages are programmed to automatically dodge most combo attacks (like throwing your enemy in the air and teleporting to hit them up there, more than one energy attack, etc.). This becomes a problem in levels where you can get a Ring Out. Because the enemy will doubtless be able to break your guard and counterattack whenever he feels like, you'll be easily knocked out the ring by him, while he can simply decide not to be hurt by your attacks.
Another source of shenanigans are ki teleports. Its esentially a counter that will consume an energy bar for teleporting behind the attacker and smack him on the noggin. First off, the smack can be cancelled into a combo of your choice; but then the AI will inmediatly pull them off wherever a human player has to first input guard, and then the combo. Second, should you do a ki teleport, the AI will inmediatly follow up with another one, and another one, and ANOTHER one, so long as they come up on top. Doesn't help that sometimes the AI will cheat and use less energy per teleport to guarantee getting the last laugh.
To take it up one more agonizing notch, even if you blatantly cheat, the Computer *still* out-cheats you! In the PS2 DB fighting games by Atari, the games would follow a switch-sides method for the tournament after each round. Try and use ye olde Game Shark, or like device? Well, once the game switches sides, the AI now has whatever extras you gave yourself. But wait - there's more. You get your ass kicked in a truly unfair manner, and then the game switches sides again when you continue—-and it still keeps the codes for itself—it likes them now.
In Dragon Ball Z Supersonic Warriors 2, at the end of Mania mode. Throughout the 20 match mode, the player will automatically lose any special attack Beam-O-War animation. But for the last 10 machtes, the computer adds two or three of the below tricks. For three of the last six matches, it then pits the player's team against one opponent (Cell, then Broly, and in the final match SS Goku), who has access to about a half-dozen AI exclusive skills, including:
A shield to block everything that can last as long as the AI wants. They can't do anything while its active, but since they don't need to guard or gather energy, and they have other attack buffs (see below) this just means that the player is lulled into gathering energy so the computer can attack at a moment's notice.
Special moves can be spammed at no energy cost, meaning gathered Ki is only used for their ultimate attacks. They can also be done repeatedly, interrrupting each other, and with no lag. For example, Broly's giant ball projectile, the strongest projectile in the game, that when spammed can Wombo Combo even another Broly.
Ultimate techniques become spiteful overkill for you almost killing them.
Instant teleportation to wherever is directly behind where you're attacking, as soon as you release that attack. Even without this, the characters can move faster than any other character in the game.
Base skill enhancements such as absurd speed, counter beams and triple throw range. For the Goku fight, theses enhancements, and all hitboxes, are doubled again. This results in a regular Kamehameha taking up most of the screen and killing most characters.
Guilty Gear is very... guilty of this. On top of the usual array of unfair SNK Boss attributes for the "boss" versions of otherwise regular characters—dealing dramatically more and taking dramatically less damage compared to their playable counterparts, doing even the most absurdly impossible-to-input moves in the middle of combos completely at will, gaining a full bar of tension with a thought, etc.—all AI characters on high enough difficulty settings or close enough to the final match of Arcade mode gain the ability to psychically read controller input. Many characters rely on having a good mix-up game, placing continuous pressure on an opponent until they finally make a mistake in their blocking, and going from there. It works pretty well against humans so long as the attacker doesn't get too predictable. Against the CPU, though, mix-up characters are almost completely useless, as every attack is more or less a polite request for the computer to please consider allowing this next one to actually connect for once. Which is usually denied.
There is also, notably, Boss I-No from Guilty Gear XX — she happens to have a boss-only move (which has recently been added to the player moveset, but not in the game she's a boss in) called 'Megalomania' which spams heart-shaped projectiles, and if you so much as graze one the entire swarm will mug you. It has three ranges — one that's fairly easy to dodge, one that's kind of like a wave and needs to be walked through, and one that fills the entire screen in front of her. The obvious solution to that last one might be to block or to leap over and behind her before she lets it go . . . but tell that to the guy who's freaking out at the sight of innumerable 'warning' signs covering 90% of the screen (the attack, it should be noted, is kind enough to tell you where it's going to hit).
The attacks can be fairly easy to memorize, the problem comes when she'll sometimes switch which pattern she's using at the last second, or if the player thinks they're smart enough to simply jump over her, where the patterns never go. Too bad, if you do this, the AI reacts as if you've been hit and they all swarm you.
Those who played SNK Vs Capcom Sv C Chaos learned to dislike Goenitz, an SNK sub-boss with an attack targeting one of four areas on the screen (close, close-mid, mid, far) that always knew exactly where you would be, canceled projectiles, and was spammed constantly, making getting close enough to hit an exercise in frustrating patience.
In a couple of ways, Goenitz was even worse in The King of Fighters '96, since he could do desperation moves without restrictions while giving more and receiving less damage to/from the player.
Fortunately you can counter this by running in the opposite direction and, if the pickup is far enough away, you'll get the computer stuck against the edge of the camera and unable to reach it. The computer will keep trying to get to the pickup while you're free to chuck buildings at it.
If your attack is blocked by the computer in Fatal Fury 2, the computer will throw you. Doesn't matter what difficulty level, or how strong the attack and the subsequent blockstun is - the computer will throw you.
Eternal Champions on the Sega Genesis and Sega CD took the unusual approach of requiring "inner energy" for all special moves. Theoretically, this forced 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 doing things like rendering the character completely invincible (the final boss(es) have these, naturally). Did we mention if you lose in the final battle, you can't continue?
The SNES game Dragon: the Bruce Lee Story probably deserves a mention. Whether or not the Demon with the halberd represents Bruce Lee's historically unalterable death, it is basically invincible, there is no way to avoid it, and it will end up killing you no matter what you do.
Not true. There are two ways to encounter the demon: losing your three mirrors (read: lives), in which you'll be pit against the Demon for a certain amount of time wherein you will need immense skill and luck to make it through until it leaves, regaining your mirrors... and the other way is facing it as the last boss, wherein you're supposed to take all of its life gauge down then strangle it with the nunchucks, which if you don't have access to by that point, GOOD LUCK. It's perfectly possible, just ridiculously hard.
In that same vein, Richard Wong in the Psychic Force games can become unbeatable in a fight by spamming his magically-appearing sword move.
The King of Fighters suffered this terribly in the '94 and '95 incarnations. There was an ability called "Evade" that, if timed right, allowed the character to dodge attacks. This translated to "The computer is immune to projectiles". And in a callback to Fatal Fury 2, getting blocked when you jumped in would lead to an instant throw. '96 pulled Evade completely, replacing it with the trademark "Roll", one of many reasons it's considered the first high point of the series.
Another nasty SNK Boss advantage is one that the bosses of XI have. In addition to the usual SNK unfairness, the game uses a gauge system that goes up when you hit the opponent and down when they hit you to measure how well you do and decides who wins at time out based on that. The bosses gauge takes an ENORMOUS leap if they so much as brush past you, you however barely make it twitch even if you hit them multiple times. Combined with the fact the timer acts like it is on speed combines to add yet another layer of evil to the mix.
Tekken 5's Jinpachi Mishima was a great example of this trope. He had The Stomp, an auto-stun move that didn't do damage but left your character floating and unable to block for at least seven seconds, an eternity in a fighting game. This was even worse in Dark Resurrection, when the computer learned how to do juggles with three signature uppercuts in a row, which took off about half your health. The version of the character given to the player, of course, did not have nearly as much priority for the stomp, which also had to be timed with the enemy attack (unlike the AI version which could just be done whenever).
Jinpachi also gets a few 85%-95% damage attacks, which he will chain along with a teleporting backstep, which in the highest difficulty activates when an attack that would definitely hit is made by the player, it does it by reading controller inputs, but only at the highest difficulty level.
In a fighting game basically devoid of projectiles, Jinpachi has fireballs and teleports. The teleports are bad enough, since they're basically instantaneous. But the fireballs? Dear Lord. Unblockable, unjumpable, unduckable. He can toss them out with no charge-up and no cool-down. That means that, even if you get smart, and try to sidestep, he'll just keep shooting until you take the hit. Of course, they do about 50% damage.
Tekken 6's Azazel wasn't quite as bad, but had one very specific cheap cheat trick: he blocks while attacking. While attacking. Normally, characters are vulnerable when performing an attack, and an opponent can interrupt them by landing the proper hit on them first. The only way to reliably hit Azazel is to get behind him and hit him while his back is turned, where he can't (usually) defend.
To be slightly more specific, Azazel is twice your height, and you hit him in the legs when you attack. And his legs can block while his upper body attacks. It's still a violation of what has been a universal rule of Tekken until right then, and insanely frustrating. (To note: most previous Tekken games had bosses that where not too ridiculously powerful to be made available for playabler use, and who followed all the same basic rules that every other character did. Tekkens five and six where the first games to have bosses that where too obscenely powerful to give to players, or in Tekken 6's case, that didn't even follow some of the basic rules of the game.)
Tekken Tag Tournament 2 makes things much worse with the return of Jun Kazama and Unknown. Jun isn't anything threatening really, so long as you're careful. But those stupid Attack Reversals can be annoying, especially since Reversals are rarely used by the AI. Unknown however is even more fucking annoying with her many penchants to do a handful of things to interrupt your rhythm: Jinpachi's stun, her branches, her Attack Reversal and that dangerous portal move. That's not counting her increased health and quick regeneration.
And don't even think about building a winning streak. The computer will use unavoidable/unblockable attacks, use moves from impossible positions, move/attack faster than you, instantly use moves that require human players to execute a complex command, do combos that are impossible for the player, read your controller inputs and counters you immediately, and become impossible to fake out to punish you for it.
By Namco, same as Tekken, Soul Calibur has been pretty fair for the most part. There are the occasional moments when the enemy moves faster than a human, but still feels beatable. Then there's Broken Destiny and the introduction of Dampierre. All his moves look like feints and/or mistakes, don't deal a lot of damage, but have a nasty habit of stun-locking you, as well as many moves that are just plain annoying. An extremely devoted player can make him the deadliest fighter on the planet.
Rock got a similar annoyance upgrade. He is slightly faster than his SCIV console counterpart and has an arsenal of grabs that can get you while your down or midair, and the AI's very good at chaining them back-to-back for maximum frustration potential.
In the original, Cervantes and Souledge have an attack called 'Self-Destruction' (renamed Geo De Rey in later installments); when the player uses it, it eats up 1/3 of their weapon gauge. The computer can decide arbitrarily if this applies to it or not; occasonally for Cervantes, hardly ever for Souledge. Souledge's version also has the advantage of controlling exactly when he launches, thus making it a nightmare when he starts spamming it, which is often, but you can control that too, so that's ok. It doesn't help that they (especially the latter) often get unbreakable weapons too while they suffer as much as everyone else when you control them, so good luck trying to disarm them. As the weapon gauge is never used again in such a fashion, it is no longer an issue from Soul Calibur Onwards.
In the Xbox remake of Dead or Alive 2, if you are playing Hayabusa (yes that one), Ein will block and counter pretty much every move that you ever make.
The Tag Team Challanges in DOA Dimensions will make you throw that brand new 3DS right into a wall. Sure, it starts out easy enough to lull you into a false sense of security, but then the madness begins. The opponent AI is damn near PERFECT, with one hit, it can take down almost HALF of your health, wheras if you hit THEM, it's like hitting a brick wall with an inflatable hammer
The computer also controls your tag partner...and is worse then ANY noob you could ever face online. Really, it's only use is to be a punching bag so you can recover your health. But considering your opponent can usually kill both you AND your tag partner within two seconds, it doesn't help much
Oh, and the fight mechanics don't apply to them. Land a strike through a block? Sure. Counter a strike with a throw? Go for it. Block a throw? Absolutely. You'd love to be able to do that too, wouldn't you? Well too bad.
In DOA 5, it gets even worse once you get to the last four difficulties. You will be countered out of every string you try, usually by the second hit before the AI springs into a combo that does at least half your health. There are ways around this, but once you get to survival mode, food luck. All four courses require you to defeat 100 opponents doing this, in a row, with one health bar.
In Castlevania Judgment, Dracula WILL put his back to the screen, and thus you will not see what attack he is going to make.
In Naruto: The Broken Bond, the computer is seemingly able to use the Rage Mode (which speeds them up and makes them take no damage from anything but damage-dealing jutsus) in the middle of a combo.
Nevermind that if you make one mistake you get totally owned. They'll juggle you, never letting you even block. If the computer makes a mistake it doesn't matter because you have to have pretty much perfect timing to hit them at that moment anyway. Not to mention that they'll almost ALWAYS be able to charge up their jutsu but you'll never get even one chance.
The Naruto: Clash of Ninja series avoided this for the most part, usual computer tendencies aside. Then English releases began to be developed by American developers instead, and now we have story mode enemies who have no stagger animations and Perfect Play A.I. mindsets- sometimes in 2 on 1 matches against you. These aren't even optional challenges- you HAVE to kill these people to proceed. The optional challenges involve similar things, only with the difficulty turned Up to Eleven by better AI.
The Grandpa Gen challenges in Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Storm 2. Especially the Chiyo and Jiraiya fights. Both have insanely high attack and defenses, and can either poison you (Chiyo) or regain health (Jiraiya).
Some battles as already mentioned are usually 1 (You) VS two/three, which means one attacks, one charges their chakra, then switch. Repeat until death.
Sometimes when you attack the computer it just goes through them, obviously this doesn’t happen to you. It also lets them set up an (Unblockable) attack.
Tactics like continuous healing work twice as well and as fast as they do for you.
The first Samurai Shodown game was very guilty of this: The CPU could knock you out in as little as 2 hits/attacks, dizzy you repeatedly, connect more hits with the same attacks you used, stun you for more time than you could, or all of the above at the same time.
Super Godzilla for the Super Nintendo did this against, well, pretty much everyone. Your own fighting spirit (a measure of how strong your techniques are) rises pretty slowly, compared to the UFO which is nearly permanently at maximum, or Mechagodzilla, who can go from nothing to max in a heartbeat, and teleport-body-slam you in the process. He will then use eye lasers just to mess with you. If you want to pull off the killer moves with a full bar, you absolutely need the booster item to fill it faster, because the enemy will hit you first otherwise.
TNA iMPACT! the game. Anyone who is an established wrestler will automatically be twice as good as you, no matter who you choose. Certain matches in story mode can consist of you spending 90% of the match beating the hell out of them, only for them to come out of nowhere with enough counters to use a special move, hit it once, and win.
WWE Smackdown Vs Raw 2009's career mode suffers the same issue above when facing the "higher level" wrestlers.
In Dissidia: Final Fantasy, the AI also ignores equipment and accessory rules. Every piece of regular equipment (swords, shields, etc) has a level requirement that your character must meet in order to equip it, but almost every AI opponent will be wearing at least one item above their level. Accessories work somewhat differently. They are ranked from D to Star. The higher the rank, the fewer of that accessory you can use at the same time. Many AI will have three or four of the same Star-ranked accessory.
And we won't even mention Chaos, who cheats like a cheating cheaty-thing, especially with his Summon. (Every single other Summon in the game can only be used once per fight, except in one specific, rule-based case. He however can use his purely at will, as often as he wants.
The prequel adds to the cheating — if the game wants to play a character like an SNK Boss, it will — dodging will be instant, attacks will be instant (even if you're playing the same character), their priority will be scores higher than yours, etc.
Oddly enough, though, because of the way equipment was changed for the sequelnote Equipment only has "tiered" requirements: level 1, 30, 60, 90, or 100, the computer no longer breaks that rule.
In Bleach: Blade Of Fate, the human character can only Flash Step or use RF Special Attacks when they have enough Spiritual Power to do so. The AI opponents have infinite Spiritual Power.
In Bleach: Soul Resurrección, a character can enter "Ignition Mode" to increase attack power, and from there use an "Ignition Attack", a powerful attack that completely empties the Ignition Gague. Usually the Ignition Gague can only be filled by causing damage, especially many hits quickly. The computer is not bound by these restrictions, and can enter Ignition Mode and use an Ignition Attack whenever they feel like it, which on harder difficulties they will. It's not unheard of for a computer-controlled character to use an Ignition Attack, and then re-enter Ignition mode before the player has even hit the ground, especially when fighting multiple enemies at once.
BlazBlue is guilty of this. Particularly Unlimited Nu and Ragna in Score Attack Mode.
Calamity Trigger's Hakuman story, You get to fight The remenents of Jin (Of who Hakuman is an alternate possibility) love for Ragna. and during this fight HE ALWAYS HAS 100% HEAT GAUGE. He makes full advantage of this and will constantly catch you in an unwinable loop with his Special attacks.
Basically any fight against Hazama due to the fact he lives up to his cheating bastard status. He will use his Distortoin Drives only when you have literally no way to dodge it and guess what if your on the ground it can hit you
Nu on her own is bad enough, she has projectile swords that basically fly out of the air. Many characters, particularly Hakumen and Tager, have no way at all to approach Nu in her NORMAL state. Based on tournaments, they have around a 20% chance of winning a match against a Nu player of equal skill. Unlimited Nu is Nu, except she summons 3 swords with every attack instead of 1. Yeah. It's hell.
Don't forget she has little recovery time on these attacks, and can (and will) combo any and all hits into her Distortion Drive, which hits for about 50% life. Bear in mind, this will happen if you fail to block even once, while you will require about 40 minor miracles in a row to beat her.
Ragna isn't much better. He seems to take quite a bit less damage in his Unlimited state. He also has increased vampiric properties. He has them to a reasonable extent in his normal state, but his Distortion Drives in Unlimited mode can easily knock off around 75% of your HP (healing him for around 50% of his), and undoing all the work you've been doing through the entire match.
AI-controlled characters are pretty good about having realistic reaction times, except in one specific scenario: if you're Rachel, and you're trying to manipulate them with Sylphid, they will air-dash in the opposite direction, the exact frame you press D. Doesn't matter who you're fighting, or what you're trying to move them into; they're just programmed to instantly resist any attempts to blow them around. In fact, this can turn Sylphid into an A.I. Breaker; if you use it to blow them away from you, and they air dash towards you, they'll use up their air dash and (if you time it right) move right into the middle of Baden Baden Lily (or Clownish Calendula if that's your thing).
Battle CAPacity had major issues with Pyroak in the past. Pyroak has a lot of HP, excellent projecile attacks, and a useful anti-air attack which comes out quick at adjustable heights. He is slow, however, and suffers against most characters close up. When the AI was using Pyroak, there was literally no slowdown between launching projectiles and using his anti-air, making him all but unapproachable.
This one is easy to miss, since you usually fight against human opponents in Rumble Fighter. However, in Survival Mode, the enemies can use the Panic Attack an unlimited number of times, whereas players are limited to using it once per round.
X-Men: Next Dimension: your counterattacks will work approximately one time in seventeen. The A.I. can pull them off whenever it wants. And the game engine treats interrupting a string of attacks as the worst kind of impoliteness.
In WWE 12 at least, and probably earlier games as well, it seems like matches are predetermined. If the player is meant to lose then counters are ignored to the point that blatant cheating will occur. If the CPU is slated to lose on the other hand then the game is a cheating bastard for the human character, with the computer all but lying down for the pin, and you really have to work to even drag a match out of them.
In some respects, WWE WrestleMania XIX for the GameCube, namely in Revenge Mode. It seems as if the game simply ignores your frantic spinning of the control stick or mashing of L and R when trying to get up or counter if it feels like it. And sometimes, when you have to make an opponent bleed, it can be done easily to you, but the opponent can take seemingly hundreds of hits to finally go down. What's worse is the opponent has seemingly impeccable timing with it's counters and dodges, even doing these on your finishing moves.
WWE 13 is quite possibly the best portrayal of the, ahem, sport ever. It is also unquestionably the most broken. You try and attack your opponent and it reads your inputs and counters perfectly. You try and counter their attacks and the game ignores them. You are not given the chance to use finishers, special abilities or even escape attacks. The CPU recovers and attacks faster than you can. It cancels out you gaining a finisher for hot tags and comeback. The game can warp you into attacks and pins. It can even make use of changing the camera angle to use Interface Screw. You name a way the game can cheat and this one will do it.
First Person Shooters
Up until Vegas, Rainbow Six seemed quite unfair in that the AI could somehow detect you even if you couldn't figure out where it was. And a major problem with the first games was that being spotted once, even if the guy didn't alert his comrades, meant everyone knew where you were.
Medal of Honor, especially the PC games. Nazis have improbable accuracy with automatic weapons while yours suffer from A-Team Firing, can shoot through foliage and other transparent objects that you can't very well, don't suffer from aim disruption while supposedly flinching, will draw a bead on you the moment you enter their line of fire, especially the snipers in Snipertown, run and gun with unlikely aiming skill, and can even get perfect shots when blindfiring. All of which is true in Call of Duty as well, made by some of the same developers.
Enemies in Call of Duty love to automatically shoot you just before you pull the trigger and throw off your aim so you miss your shot, especially when you're using a bolt-action rifle and have to wait a full second before you can fire again.
Combat training in the Black Ops games lets you see for yourself just how much the AI cheats by letting you see killcams from their perspective. Tracking players through walls, absolutely zero recoil or bullet spread, and on higher difficulties nearly infinite look speed. One AI enemy with a semi automatic sniper rifle can kill multiple players spread out over an area in less than a second the instant it has line of sight to all of them.
The stealth in the more modern Call of Duty games is actually quite fair. Occasionally though, your amazingly quiet silenced pistol suddenly gives away your position as if it fired nuclear missiles and boulders.
The 5* AI in the original TimeSplitters game's Arcade modes will turn a semi-automatic weapon into a fully-automatic nightmare, and they never have to reload. Ever. If they get hold of Pistol x2 and see you, you are probably going to die horribly in an endless storm of bullets. Curiously enough, they are less dangerous if using actual automatic weapons.
And the bots in Future Perfect will frequently walk through solid walls and scenery if you're not facing in their general direction, especially on Mapmaker maps; this becomes a real problem in Virus mode, where the AI will occasionally even fall through the fucking ceiling and land on you!! It's possible to turn around and catch them in the act, resulting in all sorts of creepy visual weirdness such as arms and faces half-emerged through the walls/windows/doors.
Battlefield 3. ESPECIALLY on hard difficulty. Let's see, bullets that are flying everywhere? Check. A player that dies in two or three continuous shots? Check. Enemies that can shoot you with just your BIG TOE sticking out of cover? Check. Enemies that can SHOOT THROUGH ROCKS IN THE INDESTRUCTIBLE ENVIRONMENT? THAT'S A BIG FUCKING CHECK!!!
If you ever play against AI bots in Battlefield 1942, you basically can't use airplanes because the AI's aiming is so accurate that it can use ordinary machine guns (as opposed to actual anti-air weapons) to whittle down your health and knock you out of the sky.
Darksims in Perfect Dark's Combat Simulator. They can teleport, shoot with 100% accuracy no matter the weapon or distance, and spawn with every weapon on the map already in their inventory. They still don't know how to use Remote Mines.
Most versions of electronic Monopoly will use this as a fake difficulty depending on what the AI difficulty is set at, most Monopoly games are meant to have smarter AI that makes better investment decisions when the AI is increased but most also increase the AIs luck when rolling and getting chance cards. As a result it's not uncommon for the AI to never get a negative card during the game and always skip past human players properties, but the harder the AI is set at the more likely it is that the computer will sabotage human dice rolls and make sure the human lands on tax or high value owned property turn after turn.
A certain chess program, when it was close to losing, would actually flash the message "The [piece] has escaped!" and that piece would appear back on the board. Obviously, only the computer's pieces ever 'escaped'. One suspects this isn't how Deep Blue beat Kasparov.
This trope is taken to the extreme in Digimon Card Battle. The Big Badliterally hacks his Game Breaker-filled deck to always get the same cards every time! This can be used against him if you have the 'Hacking' card, which swaps the HP of both Digimon as long as yours is a lower level.
All Yu-Gi-Oh! games have a list of restricted cards, just like the real card game, and usually matching the official one when said videogame came out. But computer opponents were not bound by it. The computer could have 3 copies of Game Breaker cards that you were only allowed to have one of (many of which would later be outright banned with the introduction of the real-life game's "Advanced" format used in official tournaments). This was probably to make up for AI so stupid that it often seemed like it was trying to lose. (Of course, that works both ways; in a lot of situations, you have to duel with someone as a partner, and you're partner is usually kind of stupid too.)
In Tag Force 3, F.G.D. and all other dragons on its side of the field deal piercing damage (Their Atk - the target's Def) when they destroy a defense position monster, and no trap or spell cards can be activated when F.G.D. attacks, unless you're the one controlling it...
And the trend has continued in Duel Transer, the game will always follow the March 2010 Banlist even if you change it to the September 2010 Banlist. Sure, you'll be able to use Dark Hole and Monster Reborn when your opponents can't, but they get Heavy Storm, Brain Control, Rescue Cat, and Substitoad in exchange. Oh did we forget to mention the post-game content where the game doesn't even hide that it's cheating. Multiple Pot of Greeds, Graceful Charities, Harpies Feather Dusters and RAIGEKI's abound
7 Trials To Glory was relatively good about the banlist. You had to obey the banlist, and the same cards wouldn't show up in the computers' decks.
To be cynical, however, you'll eventually notice a pattern of the days when Card Destruction is off the banlist (it works that every card is cycled on and off it), it will show up in your opponent's hand within the first three turns about half of the time. Aside from the AI also knowing your facedown monster's defense before it's flipped, it's pretty fair otherwise. The only place the cheating really shows up is when you're facing the anime characters, as nameless side characters will usually display pretty jarring Artificial Stupidity.
One other place where you'll see cheating (or just really, really good planning) is in the Limitation duel against Joey. In this duel, trap cards are banned, and almost all of the monsters he has in his deck have at least 1900 ATK. So you summon Gora Turtle, which prevents anything with 1900 or more ATK from attacking. Within two turns of summoning this, guaranteed, he'll summon Spell Canceler, the only monster he has with less than 1900, and it still has 1800. It's also a card he never uses in any other duel.
Opponents in Eternal Duelist Soul will only attack face-down monsters with a DEF lower than their monster's ATK. Each opponent has a threshold of error with their "card reading," the weakest opponents blatantly attacking any face-down monster you have while stronger opponents will single out all of your weaklings and ignore any face-down monster capable of withstanding the attack. Fortunately, this makes it easy to exploit the A.I. using cards like Man-Eater Bug (they'll read your card's Defense, but they won't any effects so you can draw the opponent into attacking and triggering them).
Not to mention that in every video game based on the card game - no exceptions - the cards that are available to you at the start are mediocre at best, and you always have to unlock better ones by progressing in the game. But almost all of your opponents - even the lowliest of Mooks - have access to better cards right from the start, often ones you can't access until much later. (You can sometimes get some as gifts or bonuses by defeating duelists, but that's usually decided at random, and there's a lot of luck involved as to whether you'll get something good.)
In old video games based on game shows such as Jeopardy! and Wheel of Fortune, particularly the Gametek versions, the computer players are subject to this.
In actual Jeopardy, when Watson the Computer played, he had insanely fast reaction time.
On Jeopardy!, if a computer player rings in it will either give the right answer to a question or type in nonsense. If you go too far ahead of an AI opponent, the game will sometimes make it impossible for you to buzz in at all while the computer player(s) starts closing the gap.
In the SNES version, it is so extreme that the computer buzzes in on the first possible frame. This means that, even if you're playing on an emulator and use the tools to play it frame-perfect, it's still literally impossible to buzz in before the computer. Essentially, it cheats so hard that you can't out-cheat it.
On Wheel of Fortune, if a puzzle is about half complete, expect a computer player to go on a hot streak, giving correct letters while missing penalty wedges, before solving the puzzle.
Simultaneously subverted in versions where it is possible for a computer player to call a repeated letter.
Similarly on the Genesis and SNES versions of Family Feud, whenever an AI player gives an answer, expect it to be on the board. When the computer doesn't feel like doing that, it will say "I give up" and penalize itself.
Even old handheld toys based on game shows had the computer cheat. If the game was based on luck, you would be screwed over quite often. If you went against a computer opponent, they would always know the answer to the questions very early in the rounds or simply be much luckier than you.
In Yakuman DS, a Mahjong game from the same people at Nintendo who make the Mario Kart and Mario Party games, the tougher computer opponents have ridiculously good luck. The AI performs Double Reach (only possible when your opening draw is one away from a winning hand) numerous times, often multiple times in a single match, not to mention a suspiciously high rate of Tenhou/Chiihou hands (i.e. when your opening draw is a winning hand. Tenhou and Chiihou are basically the equivalent of being dealt a Royal Flush in poker). More details on Double Reach, Tenhou, and Chiihou here.
This is the whole point of Bastet, a Tetris fan clone with a piece generator designed to always give you the worst possible piece for your situation.
In the NES game Anticipation, computer controlled opponents can guess the string's length of letters and can screw up as many times as there are letters in the word(s) while humans only get two chances to guess a letter before their turn is over. On the hardest difficulty, the opponents buzz in the instant the die shows the number of spaces they want to move and can guess the answer correctly without even knowing what the category is, how long the word is, or even before anything is actually drawn.
In the Dokapon game for DS you can the computer will get the exact roll it needs 99% of the time.
Savestates show that the computer always gives you the same predetermined "random" roll, regardless of any luck manipulation that would work in games with fair RNGs. The CPU players are essentially saying, every turn, "I want to move X spaces". At least this doesn't carry over into combat.
The generally fair AI powerups for Total War games have a few cheat moments (free money, quick build/recruit times etc) to balance the fact that it's an AI and you're not (presumably). However, a blatant cheat in Medieval II: your own crusader/jihad/warpath armies will gradually lose units to desertion if you don't progress towards the designated target each turn. The AI however can raise such an army, park it near your settlement and wait 50 years until the crusade/jihad/warpath is over, without losing any units, at which point it will be free to turn the army against you. Of course, there's nothing to stop you pre-emptively attacking that army anyway, excommunication aside...
Scrabble on the Playstation 1. Firstly the game seemed to arbitarily decide if something was an authentic word; many common words that are in any dictionary would be denied to the player but the computer could seem to use any combination of letters, even total gibberish such as "gxfsetf", and score. The harder the AI was set to, the more nonsense it would score with.
Inverted in Getter Love!!, in which you get to be a cheating bastard. Mainly because of the map screen, in which you can see exactly where each of your opponents will be going before you choose a destination. (This aspect of the game would have worked better if, instead, you chose by pressing a button, instead of toggling on the map.note Let's see: For destinations, you have your home, Itoh Mart the department store (divided into three sections for information, fashion, and CD&BOOK), China Hao Hao, Panda Amusement (two sections here, one each for gaming and karaoke), Panda Burger, the school plaza, the school grounds, the library, Panda Park, and Cafe Liquid. A Nintendo 64 controller has a d-pad (four directions), four C buttons (which aren't used for anything in this game as it is), and six other buttons (L, R, Z, A, B, and Start). Fourteen possible destinations, fourteen buttons to select with (not even counting the joystick), it's a perfect match! And that's saying nothing about Artificial Stupidity.
Sonic Shuffle had this badly. The game, to differentiate itself from Mario Party, uses cards to move players around instead of dice. However, instead of pulling from a deck, everyone has seven cards and the computer, even on the easiest mode, knows who has all of the 5 cards, 6 cards and "S" cards. Predictably, they will take them at the first opportunity, thus depriving you of any chance to get far in the game. What makes this worse is when you try to pick one from the computer, you can't see their cards. It becomes a crap shoot that may lead you into picking a 1 card or the Eggman card. This sort of setup works for an actual multiplayer set up, not when it's one against the computer.
The Crusin' USA port on the Nintendo 64 featured drastic Rubber Band A.I. from the few lead cars that would try to pass you, including "That F**king Blue Car". The top two cars in any race would drive perfectly and always managed to avoid crashing into traffic, even clipping through traffic that was going to wreck them if the player couldn't see it. The only way possible to achieve victory was to force other racers into the oncoming cars. Even then, it wasn't foolproof, as not only did you have to get lucky with the timing (since oncoming traffic is nearly impossible to predict and/or see coming), the AI cars would be back on your tail in less than ten seconds. On the higher difficulties, the only way to win was to knock a car into the opposing lanes towards the end of the race and hope an oncoming car rammed them off the road.
Road Rash 3 for the Genesis thoroughly abuses this trope. One racer (Lucky Luc) always manages to stay ahead of you. You can have the same bike as him, and he still manages to get ahead of you so he can spam his oilcans. If you decide to grab the next higher bike, or two after that, he STILL is usually a bit faster than you, or can at least catch up to you with no problem.
The game also has some seriousrubber band AI. The super secret bike tops out (when not using the nitro) at around 215 MPH. You get this bike (with the proper code) on the first races (if you decided to cheat back). You can speed past every other racer and take first place within the first 11 seconds of the race, but if you crash any time after that (most noticeable when you're at the end of the race), at least five other racers will pass you before you can get back onto the bike.
The yellow car from RC Pro-Am exhibited signs of Rubber Band A.I. during certain races. Well, not exactly... the rubber band outright snapped, making that car move nearly twice as fast as all of the other cars on the track (including your own, even if you collected all of the upgrades). When you heard that tell-tale high-pitched squeal around the beginning of the second lap, it was your ass.
You can be a cheating bastard too. You have Secret Player Moves: Weapons. Even at super turbo speeds, if the yellow car eats a missile or bomb, it goes boom and loses its super turbo for a bit. What's worse is the late game tracks where EVERY car does this the instant they pass you up. If you don't blast them out of the starting gate, you can't win!
In The Simpsons Hit & Run, each level has a series of races to win a car. Almost every race will feature the next level's starter car as the lead opposing car, and it is always superior to any car you can access in the current level. This is especially bad in the second level, where Lisa's Malibu Stacy car is insanely better than anything level 2 Bart has, making the races a nightmare to win. Special mention also must go to Marge having to solo-race Frink's Hover Car in one of her races, which is the most nimble car in the game. Her starter car, by comparison, is a crappy SUV that will tip over at the slighest provacation (which, given the car in question, is likely intentional). In addition, the AI cars are nigh-impossible to push off the road and are generally perfect drivers except on really sharp turns. Of course, you can always come back to the early levels with a better car, making it a cakewalk.
Burnout 3: Takedown features broken one-way Rubberband AI in many of its events. When you're in the lead, driving perfectly and constantly boosting, the AI will be, as a helpful yellow pop-up caption exclaims, "right on your tail!" no matter how many times you wreck them. The moment you crash, they start to take an insurmountable 30-second lead that is nearly impossible to catch up to.
In Burnout Paradise, the computer drivers will always get a head start in race events, allowing them to boost past you before you even get control of your car.
Of course, this is done for theatrical appeal, as well as to give the computer a fighting chance. In most cases you will start in 4th or 5th rather than 8th like in most games, so there is that. Also, experienced racers will find literally dozens of shortcuts on a route to give them quarter mile leads.
Marked Man, on the other hand, is a bitch on Class A and Elite levels. There are way more parked cars, gridlocked traffic and they throw the best aggression cars in the game at you regardless of what you are driving. Sometimes you will be lucky to make it a mile in a four mile Marked Man.
In Crash Team Racing for the PS1, the final boss would literally start the race before the green light that signaled the race's start.
That isn't all. All the bosses would have an unlimited ammount of weapons after passing through the first crate. (Or "Passing by" the first crate area, if you jump ahead and take the crate they would, they would still get the items even if they didn't break a weapon crate.) The only advantage is that they would only use one weapon type and would always fire behind them. The Final Boss uses weapon types of every other boss in the game!
Abused to a bizarre end in the Super Nintendo game Super Off-Road: The Baja. Each and every one of your competitors had their own preferred place in the lineup, and Heaven forbid you should attempt to take that place from them. For example: Should you take third place from the AI driver who typically came in third, he would become a super driver fueled by rage; he would gain speed, cut corners, ram your truck mercilessly, and pretty much suddenly become the Uberdriver in his efforts to dislodge you from third place. Once you dropped back to fourth place, though, that driver would return to normal, and never challenge Mr. Number Two for HIS place. (Of course, then Mr. Fourth Place would have his turn at harassing you.) Coupled with the tendency for the AI in first place to absolutely obliterate you should you dare violate his sacred position AND stage last-minute comebacks at speeds approaching those of a low-flying jet fighter, winning any race at any difficulty level became far more based on luck (and your ability to keep from being rammed into oblivion) than skill.
Classic F1 racing game Super Monaco Grand Prix featured a version of this that kicked in only after you'd become World Champion. In order to speed up the process by which a driver rose in the ranks, the game featured a system of "challenging" whereby if you beat someone in a better team twice in a row, you'd be offered their place (and thus, a better car). Once you'd won the championship, you were automatically placed in the best team (McLaren ersatz "Madonna") and then promptly challenged by some unknown newcomer in a team halfway down the rankings. Scoffing as the first race of the new season begins, you can only watch in horror as his blatantly inferior vehicle accelerates past you and proceeds to completely destroy you. Two races later, he's driving your supposedly top car (even though he shouldn't need it...) and you're stinking up the field in the crappy blue and turquoise thing he started in.
In Ridge Racer 6 for the Xbox 360 (and perhaps other Ridge Racer games), the computer cheats so often it's almost pointless to even try the harder difficulty levels and race types. Special races, for example, pit you against a car that you can win if you beat it. This car is always better than any car you have available at the time. Also, the "Reverse Nitro" races are well known for rampant cheating. In a Reverse Nitro race, your car cannot gain nitro from drifting like it can normally, so you are given an extra two tanks to work with and the only way to get them back is to go into what the game calls "Ultimate Charge" (coming out of a nitro blast while drifting). Somehow, all computer-controlled cars in these races can gain nitro simply by driving in a straight line for a couple of seconds, completely ignoring all the rules for nitro boosts set out for you. This means they can, suddenly, blow past you with a fully charged 3-tank nitro boost just after they finished another 3-tank nitro boost.
In Ridge Racer 64, not only did the rival car have ridiculously effective Rubber Band A.I. but if you crashed into it, you stopped dead while the rival wobbled a bit but basically carried on unaffected. This was the case even if the rival crashed into you from behind, in which case it would drive right through your motionless car.
Every Tokyo Xtreme Racer series game has nearly invulnerable AI, with impossible handling abilities. "Boss" racers will always catch up with and pass you, regardless of your cars' relative stats. If a race starts with you slightly in front of another car, there's a chance you will accelerate faster. If you start a race behind the exact same opponent, they accelerate into the distance and are never seen again. Also, another game in which the traffic is actively trying to destroy your car, changing lanes to block you in and adjusting the timing of their lane changes to hit your car at any speed.
In Midtown Madness, some racing modes involve competing against computer-controlled cars, and since you are always in danger of smashing into vehicles or obstacles, it helps greatly that they are too (not to mention that it's gratifying to see them smash head-on into oncoming traffic or miss a critical turn). Except that if they ever leave your immediate surroundings and end up in a part of the city of Chicago that isn't currently being "simulated," they go into cruise mode and move quickly and safely wherever they are meant to go next. In one of the races, a single computer car takes a very different route than the rest, meaning that in order to win you must be very lucky to have it crash during the parts of the race when it ends up being near you.
The game based on the Dragon Booster television show is guilty of this. While you only ever have five energy points, and have to recharge by getting powerups, the AI racers have unlimited energy, ignore obstacles (offscreen, at least; onscreen, they just charge into nearly all of them), and even have equipment that is unable to be obtained by the player. It's made up for in that the AI is dumb as a post.
In Red Baron Arcade (as with many, many flight/driving/racing type games), if there is any penalty to being rammed, you can bet that the computer has any number of planes or cars (or whatever) cheerfully lining up to ram the absolute crap out of you as soon as you start targeting the thing that will let you win that level.
Need for Speed Underground combined Rubber Band A.I. with your opponents always having just slightly better cars than you. Because of that it was easier to deliberately downgrade your car in the endgame by using a weak engine and so on. The AI would be downgraded as well so that relatively everything stayed the same, but the race would be a lot slower and therefore more forgiving.
Furthermore, Underground 2 and Most Wanted also had an egregious feature whereby even if you managed to build up a decent lead in spite of the Rubber Band A.I., in the last lap of the race one of the opponents would make a miraculous comeback and pass you unless you managed to block him or had a lot of nitro to burn. This was presumably done to make the races more dramatic, but of course the end result was just more frustration.
Most Wanted was nowhere near as bad as Underground 2, but can be a lesson in frustration if you haven't mastered getting an apex turn or don't abuse speedbreaker.
In Most Wanted, it is possible to drag a car with it facing the opposite direction, because it got its rear wheel caught on your front end, and then not only free itself, but proceed to gain magical turning abilities where it obtains a zero-degree radius turn, and speed off. Past you.
The car damage thing is inverted, since cop cars can be taken out fairly easily while your own car is indestructible. This is balanced outweighed by the fact that the computer has an infinite supply of them, though.
The cops also rarely go after the computer players. There may be one or two occasions where if you deliberately slow down and give up your position so the other can get the cop first, they will actually go after the more egregious speeder. Otherwise, the cop will usually go after you, and completely ignore everyone else.
Speaking of cops, try this: Start a cop chase and go into reverse. The cop will drive alongside you. Now stop, go into first, and punch it. Even if your car can go from 0 to 100 in 0.5 seconds, the cop will stay right on your tail, despite having to make a J-turn to even drive in the same direction as you.
Speaking of Most Wanted, once the backup timer has run out, the cops are free to respawn anywhere they want. Nothing quite beats seeing a cop car flicker into view on the golf course. Of course, if you try to respawn by using R, it's an instant bust, no matter where the cops are.
Not to mention the effect in latter tollbooth challenges, where if you take the shortcut through opposing traffic, there always ends up being traffic there. If you take the long way around, surprise, surprise, no traffic!
In Need for Speed Underground, the AI actually deliberately steers traffic so they'll cross paths with you. Cars come out out of an intersection with precise timing so that you'll hit them. If you're in the lead on the last lap, this becomes even more likely. The best tactic is to swerve wildly just before every intersection so you won't be where the computer thought you were going to be.
Most Wanted even goes so far as to actively lie to the player. One of loading screen tips tells you that with a well-executed pursuit breaker it's possible to take out all your pursuers at once and get away easily. But doing that just causes a new police car to instantly spawn nearby. Following the advice and slowing down to allow cops to catch up and get them all can then easily have the opposite result than the tip claims, since even though the car is invulnerable, it can still get caught in the pursuit breaker and immobilized just long enough for that new cop car to bust you.
Need for Speed Most Wanted actually cheats in multiplayer mode. You can upgrade every car in the game to 100% on all three stats (acceleration, speed and handling), except for the game's signature car, the BMW M3 GTR which cannot be upgraded at all and is therefore pretty bad in single player. However, as bad as its ingame performance is, its listed stats are worse. And in multiplayer mode, the game attempts to ensure a fair race by equalising the stats of all cars in the race. The result is that your shiny Porsche Carrera GT that ordinarily blows the doors off the M3 GTR is detuned to a limping piece of junk with the same stats as the M3 GTR... at which point the M3 GTR is the better car and will proceed to beat you. This is probably a design flaw, but ironically the M3 GTR is driven in career mode by a cheating bastard who took it from you after rigging a race through sabotage.
Also, because of the craptastic way the game measures handling, the M3 GTR is probably one of the best vehicles you get in the late game for turning. The game's handling stat doesn't measure how well it turns, but rather how well your car stays gripped to the road, which can be really bad if your trying to make a tight turn at 140 MPH(~225km/h, for you metric users)
Every PSP version of Need for Speed seems to put a lot of effort in ensuring that its AI has a new annoying trick at its disposal. By the time of NFS Undercover, the cpu cars could drive faster than you, no matter what was your car and how well it was upgraded, were not affected by crashes (they were back on your tail in just few seconds), could TELEPORT if you somehow managed to make them stay really behind, or TURN MID-AIR! In one of the urban stages, there is a 90 degrees turn just after a really long straight that ends with a significant bump. To drive past it you simply have to slow down, but the cpu cars can drive into it at full speed, jump and turn in the air. Funny sight when you are looking behind at that time.
Your opponents in Need for Speed Shift 2: Unleashed are rather fond of the Reverse PIT manoeuvre. It's performed in exactly the same way but it's the guy pushing that spins out. It's incredibly annoying when you've got a fast car and it gets congested. Generally, your opponent's cars weigh twice as much as yours according to the physics engine.
In Need for Speed: Undercover (non PSP), even if you have the pedal thoroughly buried in a Mclaren F1, police SU Vs will still lazily pull in front of you as though you were parked. For those still confused; this is a scenario in which a Cadillac Escalade is represented as faster than one of the fastest production cars ever produced.note The F1 remains as of 2011 one of the fastest production cars ever made; as of July 2010 it is succeeded by very few cars including the Koenigsegg CCR, the Bugatti Veyron, the SSC Ultimate Aero TT, and the Bugatti Veyron Super Sport.
In Star Wars Episode I Racer, the AI racers never crash, never run into walls, always hit turns perfectly, and never have to use the boost. And they know pretty much every shortcut; if you miss one, they'll take it and get way ahead, such as the upper route on Abyss.
A good example is in one of the earlier tracks - a fairly simple track with multiple alternate paths that shave small amounts of time off your run and are generally ignored by AI racers, it is pretty easy to get a decent lead. Then, coming round the second last corner is a short run up to a huge jump. Boost as much as you can and pull back for maximum airtime - in a decent podracer (and that early in the game you do not have one) and you might just make it. Finally, the jump, which you just hit at maximum velocity, is followed by a hairpin turn to the finish line.
In keeping with the film, Sebulba's racer is equipped with flame vents which can fry your engines if you sit there too long. To be fair, you can play as Sebulba and do it too... except the AI racers are totally immune.
Cel Damage's AI players can make sharper turns than the human player. This can be seen when the player is killed, and for the brief seconds until the respawn, the computer player (most likely the assassin) can make some incredible curves, even while standing on the same place.
Test Drive for PS2, Xbox and GC. This game exhibits extreme Rubber Band A.I.. No matter how skilled you are or how powerful your car is, the AI will always gain a ridiculous speed boost and catch up, sometimes "teleporting", making races a Luck-Based Mission. And they almost never crash or make other mistakes.
Try this (At least on the PC version): Play Test Drive 5 and use the "nitro boost" cheat, race on a track with a lot of straight roads so you can boost your top speed way past logical top speed like on the Sydney track, and take a look at the racer stats at the end of the race. If you've logged a top speed of around 400mph, then the AI will log a top speed of around 800mph just to keep up with you. Granted you would be cheating yourself in the first place, this is still an amusing way to prove the audacity of the rubber band AI under magnified proportions. And also shows you can't cheat a cheating opponent since it will just cheat more anyway.
Midnight Club 3 seems to be malevolent and benevolent at the exact same time. In races, your opponents are always in better cars unless you have an A tier car(to the point that races can play out with you in a D tier and your opponent in a B tier BEFORE you've completely upgraded it.), you're opponents always have more nitrous shots than you (or in the case of bikes, HAVE nitrous shots.), and, somehow, obey the copenhagen interpretation, because even if you overlapped a car, if you are not watching him on the minimap, he will warp right behind you and be able to put you back into second place. However, you can outrun them on straight-aways, they cannot use slipstream turbo, and cannot use any special abilities.
Midnight Club 2 actually has a literal example: in one of the Career races, Angel gives himself a head start. It doesn't help, though, as he's almost deliberately one of the worst AI opponents you'll ever face.
On that note, Midnight Club: Los Angeles was criticized in an IGN review because of its rubberband techniques making the game often harder than it needed to be. Not only can they rocket off the line faster, but they have NOS by the bucketload, often blowing right past you. Another gripe by that same review was for markers being in places that are hard to spot, such as on corners you will often blow past.
A patch eased some of the Rubberband problem for the first third of the game.
Forza Motorsport 2 exibits several of the stated examples (not to extreme levels, but they appear). But the worse offense is when you end up with the car in 2nd place pulling a PIT Maneuver on you, giving them and their 6 other AI buddies a chance to speed off as you are forced to get back to the track while the penalty meter is growing. The worst part is that you can have this happen with the AI set on Easy.
Forza Motorsports 3 is a little different. The AI players aren't bastards, they're assholes. Even on Medium difficulty, they'll bump you to-and-fro in a pack-like manner, cars in front of you will seemingly drive in a tandem formation to block you from overtaking, and they're not afraid to ram you off on their way to first place. Combine this with Realistic-level damage modelling, and you can kiss your credits goodbye.
When you hit an opponent, you spin out, but they remain unfazed. They can also brake later and take turns faster than you.
Not only that. If you're on the inside lane during a turn with an A.I. car next to you on the outside lane, you can't push it off the track. Instead it will push you to the inside. If you do that to a human player in a multiplayer race, however, you can easily push him off the track.
A.I. cars also aren't slowed down much by the grass/dirt/sand/gravel in chicanes and tight corners that slow you down to a crawl to prevent you from taking shortcuts.
Also, any car in the same class as you can and WILL outperform your car if driven by the #1 or #2 AI. Have the fastest car model in that class, fully upgraded and tuned to be literally a millimetre away from being the next class up? Too bad. #1 AI is going to fly past you as soon as you hit the straights.
The starting grid is sorted (or at least supposed to be sorted) according to the cars' performance index, or PI for short; the higher a car's PI, the better the starting position. And while A.I. cars will always be positioned according to their respective PIs, you are almost always positioned behind A.I. cars if their PI is only a few points lower than yours. This can be especially aggravating in races where the PIs of all cars - including yours - are very close together; even though your car has the best PI, you're placed at the end of the grid.
Gran Turismo 4. In the rally races, if you hit the wall, you get a 5 second penalty. If you run into the computer opponent, you get a 5 second penalty. If the computer runs into you, you get a 5 second penalty. And of course, the computer can pinball down the track without so much as applying the brakes, let alone catching a penalty for tapping the (occasionally invisible) track barrier.
The computer will also use cars that it specifically disallows you the use of. (Cadillac Cien and VW Nardo W12 Concept in a race specifically limited to Production Vehicles Only, for example.)
Back in GT 2 and possibly in 4, the AI would also sometimes use cars that exceeded the HP regulations for the races, eg the Vector M12 LM on the Trial Mountain Endurance Race, making it impossible for you to win.
An special example goes to Rome Circuit on the Historical Car event. horsepower limit? 295hp. One of the opponents has a Ford GT 40, which happens to have the maximum allowed Horsepower (Except when you buy the car. It shows at the dealership it has 295hp but it actually has 305hp! Which means you can't use the car on the race). But it's horsepower isn't the problem. Ford GT 40 is a road version of a LE-MANS RACING CAR! So you're facing a road-going version of the legendary car that won 3 consecutive Le-mans in the 60s. HAVE FUN! Want a tip to win this? Buy the Mini that costs half a million credits. It doesn't have 74hp, it actually has 200hp and it's nimble enough to face the GT 40.
Not to mention that on most track and road races, you can drive perfectly, get several seconds ahead of your opponents in the turns, only for them to mysteriously gain 300 horsepower and catch, pass, and gain several seconds on you in the straights.
Full Auto for the Xbox 360 suffers from this a bit. Rubber Band A.I., while prevalent, is not the biggest problem - enemy cars in Career mode are also equipped with what appears to be much, MUCH stronger armor than the player's vehicle, making blowing them out of the way a time-consuming task. For example, it takes an enemy vehicle approximately 3 rough hits with the hood-mounted shotgun to completely annihilate the player (the same number it takes a player to destroy another player in Multiplayer mode), but it takes the player 5 precise hits to a single side of an AI car at minimum to take them down. Also, the player's car can completely lose its front armor after hitting only 2 mines dropped by an enemy and explode when hitting the third, but enemy cars can run over multiple mines and suffer no visible damage. They also may or may not be subject to the "Weapon Overheat" period resulting from firing a weapon too rapidly without a break. Factor in the AI cars' exclusive ability to destroy the player simply by ramming them and their unannounced ability to change their driving pattern while the Unwreck function is used (designed for the player to undo mistakes by rewinding time), and it's quite a bit to handle. Fortunately, the AI cars are also busy blasting away at each other, often leaving them damaged enough for the player to swoop in and finish them off.
The cheating AI seems to be exclusive to Career mode. Multiplayer and Arcade modes appear to give the AI cars the same speed, abilities, and armor as the player (only 3 shots from the shotgun before exploding, 3 mines = death, etc.), but Career mode steps it up with the cheating elements. Very odd...
On a number of car racing games the opponent drivers are essentially invulnerable. If your car hits theirs they are unaffected while you are sent flying. The AI drivers are driving a preset course and you are not allowed to interfere. The racing side missions in Brutal Legend are an example.
Motorm4x is one of the few games that feature Rubber Band A.I. in time trial mode, whereby at the end of each trial you're treated to a results table with the other drivers' times, some of which are likely better than yours. Beating those times, however, you find out that the other drivers have improved as well and you still didn't win. A particularly ridiculous example exists in one of the last races, where the developers even make a big point in the race description of how the best time so far of just over 6 minutes is extraordinary for this trial, the average being around 11. Finishing at just under 6 minutes, you find out that you've didn't even make the upper half of the results table, nobody posted a time over 8 minutes, and the time you really need is 5:30.
The AI opponents in Sonic Riders have been known to literally vanish from their previous position on the track in order to go zinging past you when you least expect it. Since aside from breaking the laws of physics the computer races flawlessly without outside interference, this makes the game particularly frustrating, as even without the cheating, there's pretty much no way to win if you don't take the lead in the first lap and race flawlessly from there on out.
Track Mania DS has you playing the same circuit multiple times in an attempt to earn bronze, silver, and gold medals. While the bronze and silver ghost racers generally play fair, the gold ghost racer is blatantly faster despite driving the exact same car as the player, forcing the player to use unconventional tactics and shortcuts in order to win.
The A.I. in Diddy Kong Racing will go through all oil slicks, mines and bubbles as long as they aren't on the screen and extremely close to you, making the green balloon power-ups nearly worthless.
Also, possible example: it is damned hard to make any useful gain on Tricky the Triceratops when using the volcano track's tunnel "shortcut".
Even though Sleeping Dogs isn't primarily a racing game, the underground racing circuit the player can optionally join and the friggin cops employ rubber-band tactics, so much that it's much easier to just to slow down, wait for the cops to catch up to you, then ram them off the road rather then simply outrun them. In the racing side missions, you'll notice that you always start last and they always accelerate faster then you (no matter if you are using the best motorcycle in the game). On straight-ways, you could be going at the max possible speed and be using the same vehicle, except they'll still overtake you, then slow down right in front of you. Incredibly infuriating if this happens near the end of the race.
Hellooooooooo SplitSecond, whose idea of Rubber Band A.I. is to give opponents virtually limitless Power Play ability, the wicked sense to wait til the final stretch of the last lap to use it on you and only you, and to make Elite Races impossible for anyone who isn't a robot.
In Twisted Metal 2, the player's use of certain special moves is governed by a meter which slowly regenerates, to prevent you from spamming them. The AI is under no such limitation, leading to situations like being stun-locked to death by an infinite stream of ice blasts.
In Mud and Blood 2, there's a reason why the game tag line is "Unfair Random Brutality"...and it's this: Many a game has ended upon the arrival of German tanks or large numbers elite infantry onto the screen at unfortunate times, and randomized artillery barrages and air strikes can ruin even the most well manned defensive line.
One egregious example occurs in the final GDI mission of Command & Conquer, wherein the AI possesses the unique ability to build structures very far away from its own base and sometimes, even inside yours.
In the Nintendo DS game Lost Magic the enemy ai mages always have the home field advantage, being surrounded by their respective element (eg: the fire sage is surrounded by lava, that she can walk on without taking damage instead getting healed each second), which wouldnt be cheating in itself, but it lends extra annoyance when they cast spells on your from across the map with no mana constraints. The lava or shifting sands becomes a lot more annoying when you have to walk carefully around it at the same time as getting fire dropped on your head or long walls being cast to bar your way. Your player character can cast any spell that the AI can (once you have the right runes), but you have a very limited range on almost all your spells and your mana limits you to casting only 2-3 spells before needing to recharge. Of course the ai isnt nearly as intelligent as the player character and they dont have as wide a range of spells to choose from, so if they didnt cheat like they do the game would be far too easy.
Warcraft II: The AI is bad enough with its ability to see the whole map and ignore resource requirements as it is, but the Ogre Mages are outright evil in the AI's hand. The player can only cast spells with the Ogre Mage, Wizard, Paladin or Death Knight by selecting one unit at a time, selecting the spell, and targeting it. Not so with the AI, oh no. The AI is fully capable of having every single Ogre Mage cast Blood Lust on the entire Orc army at once'. And they spam it constantly''.
In Rise of Nations, the game straight up tells you that on the two higher difficulties they will get a resource handicap. Inverted, however, on the two easiest difficulties: the human gets the handicap instead.
Role Playing Games
The Triple Triad card game in Final Fantasy VIII had another blatant example of cheating. Normally, the human player and the computer can see each other's hands, making the card game fairly easy to win. However, whenever the hands are concealed, the computer's win rate goes up more than tenfold, as it seems aware what cards you have, and its cards are not so much "hidden" as "the computer's single remaining card has the exact combination of three values, in three specific locations, needed to win." This is especially frustrating as you watch it happen ten times in a row.
Made even worse when you're on the Lunar Base, where practically every card rule is in effect.
There is a way to limit the ruleset, involving initiating and then canceling card games until your opponent offers to play by a different set of rules. Do it enough, and you'll spread favorable rules from earlier in the game to a new area. However, it took a disassembler to find the mechanics of this, making it something of a Guide Dang It, not to mention how tedious and time-consuming constantly cancelling out of the game to make them suggest playing with another region's rules or stop them from wanting to play with unwanted region's rules is.
The ever-hated Random rule. Exactly What It Says on the Tin, it picks out completely random cards from your collection for the current match. Whereas most players are trying to complete the collection and therefore have a LOT of weak cards and a few strong ones, it's to be expected that you'll end up with 2 or 3 (or more, if you're really unlucky) low-level cards, but you'll almost never see the computer with the same weaklings you just drew. There's a reason everyone loathes this rule, and god help you if you let it spread...
The big battle at the end of Tales of the Sword Coast (the expansion for the first Baldur's Gate) had an ability that allowed a save—but blatantly overrode the results of the save to affect the target anyway, every single time to every single party member in over a dozen tries. Even when not a single one of the main character's saves was greater than 1 (and some were less than one). Without a save penalty on that ability of at least -10, it is... highly improbable at best to miss all the saves.
Various NPCs have stats that should not be physically possible within their class. Some have in-game justification. Most don't.
From Baldur's Gate II and onwards, all high-level enemy mages (and there are a lot of these) get something called a 'tattoo of power', which is a spell trigger that can activate any number of defensive spells instantly and without any action from the user and stacks on top of existing spell triggers and contingencies. It's probably to counter the fact that the NPCs can't "pre-buff" (cast support spells shortly before a fight to avoid having to waste turns on them) like the player.
Speaking of teleportation, nearly every mage in Baldur's Gate II can teleport - except for you. No one in the universe has a dimension door scroll for you to buy, with no explanation given at all. (This is a result of the developers removing the spell and citing 'potential abuse' as the reason. Jerks. Fortunately, there is a downloadable mod, the D0Tweaks mod, that'll restore dimension door to the game for player use. Nonetheless, dimension door only allows you to teleport within a certain short range; how mage after mage uses the spell to teleport seemingly all over the world goes unexplained in-universe. (The game justifies this by saying that they use it to teleport into nearby shadows; they then dissapear.)
This trope is hilariously invoked in the Mass Effect 2 Lair of the Shadow Broker DLC. Legion's online gaming profile indicates it has been hit with multiple infractions because it was so skilled the game designers thought it was cheating. While it later challenged and overturned those relating to superior micro-management, reaction time, and tactics, it accepted a suspension for taunting its inferior human opponents during an event.
In Mass Effect 3 you have the infamous Banshee magnet hands, which got patched, but now got replaced by the Praetorian magnet claws. Double tapping Geth Rocket Troopers and Geth Hunters with unlimited cloak. Hell, even Geth stunlock in general.
The Marauders use a Phaeston assault rifle that's so devastating that they are the equivalent of the player's version upgraded to level 32 (max level for players is 10). Similar case with all the enemies on higher difficulties, but especially evident with enemies that tend to sustain fire, such as the Marauder and the Collector Captain.
Surprisingly enough, Chrono Cross suffers from this. When in battle, the party can only use their element magic attacks when they have generated enough "Combo" through basic attacks to charge their element grid, and they can only use each slotted element once per battle. Your enemies are not limited by this. It is especially frustrating when fighting bosses, because they can immediately use high-level elements without generating a single normal attack, and they can use any of their elements, even the unique special-attacks, as many times as they want. The longer the fight goes on, the less you have to work with as your element grid runs out... not so for your opponent!
This becomes especially critical in the final fight, in which the only way to get the "True Ending" is for elements, either yours or your enemy's, to be cast in a certain order. Invariably, the AI will cast an element to mess up your order if you try this on your own without doing it the "proper" way of using your opponent against himself. Players who don't figure out the somewhat obscure system of how to get past this will never be able to get the "True Ending", and it is never explained at any point during the game.
All things considered, though, only a handful of Chrono Cross bosses were unfair. The secret boss from whom you obtain the Mastermune is the only character in the game that will instantly counter literally any element you throw at him, based on his own system of preset counters that will always immediately follow any element you use. Not knowing this ahead of time and attacking normally is a very speedy return to the main menu, but you are given no warning whatsoever of this unique ability a single enemy in the game has. On the plus side, once you figure out what he's doing, it's very easy to game the AI and turn it into a cakewalk.
In World of Warcraft, at the Argent Tournament, the jousting opponents will run in random directions to set up a charge or a ranged attack, which is fine, except that sometimes they will choose to run right off the tournament grounds. Guess what happens. Hint: it doesn't end in a tie.
At the same Tournament, the mechanics mean that the player must maintain a small range to use power attacks, wait several seconds between using them, and execute slow, ponderous turn after one of said attacks. The AI can execute pinpoint turns (on HORSES), to execute both attacks at the same time while outside of attack range and immediately stop to attack you again.
The Faction Champions encounter of the actual Argent Tournament raid pits you against 6-10 randomly-assigned race/spec combo NPCs that typically adhere to a set of PvP-ish aggro rules (ignoring threat to focus-fire people with lower health/armor, etc.) While this would be fine on its own, to drive the point home, you are subject to the rapid diminishing returns on crowd-control spells typically employed in player encounters... and they are not. It's not uncommon to have such a spell last 2-3 seconds if its target hasn't already been rendered outright immune, while people on your side can be locked down for 30 seconds or more at a time by the enemy's spammage of the same skill.
Mobs have a tendency to use moves that a player of their equivalent class can't use at that level. For instance, the naga mages in Blackfathom Deeps can use the spell Blizzard at around level 23 or 24. Player mages don't learn Blizzard until level 52.
To be fair, mages used to have this ability at 23-24. It's just a matter of the instance mechanics not updating with the player mechanics.
Mobs can also be race-class combinations that are not available to players, for instance, the human shamans in Stranglethorn or the undead paladins found in certain areas in Lordaeron.
Mobs can shoot a target through walls while a player's target must be in their line of sight.
If a mob attacks you from behind, their melee attacks have a chance to apply "daze" which slows your movement speed down by 50% and it can't be removed by abilities that remove "movement impairing effects". This chance increases as the higher their level is than yours. TA player can't daze a mob or another player outside of a few class specific abilities, such as a hunter's concussive shot or a druid's wild charge when used it cat form, but those dazes CAN be removed by abilities that remove movement impairing effects.
Mobs also have many movement and pathing advantages over a player: They can walk and swim faster than you (excluding mounts or speed enhancing abilities, but they also have daze for those), walk over most kinds of mountains, cliffs, and structures (they don't need to jump either), and when they either can't find a path to you, get stuck, or start running back to their regular position, will evade all of your attacks and instantly heal.
If a mob stuns or spell locks you, they do not have diminishing returns to shorten the duration of another stun or spell lock that gets put on you right after, unlike a player. This is particularly noticeable when facing many mobs who can all stun or spell lock you right after one another.
Mobs that are 4 or more levels higher than you have a chance to deal crushing melee blows to you, which deal 1.5x their normal damage. The chance of a crushing blow happening increases as the difference between the mob's level is higher, up to the point where every hit against you is a crushing blow (aside from critical hits, which are still 2x normal damage). Of course YOU can't deal a crushing blow against either a mob or another player no matter how much higher your level is than theirs.
Aggressive/Red mobs that are 4 or more levels higher than you (not passive/yellow mobs, who don't attack you unless you attack them first), will start gaining ridiculous amounts of ranged spell evasion for each level they are higher than you as well. This is probably to discourage lower level players from killing higher level mobs (because melee spells and attacks still have to get through a mob's dodge and parry rating to hit them while ranged spells do not), but it's still an unfair advantage over you. Of course players who are many levels higher than another player will only gain normal amounts of ranged spell evasion (the same as a passive mob of the same level).
Pet battles take place with the player not knowing what move their opponent, computer or other player, is going to choose. However the computer can see the player's move before selecting its own move and will use evades or similar abilities to counter large attacks rather than using their standard move set.
The RPG Metal Hearts: Replicant Rampage: When the player gets to the first part of civilisation they will note the following: By moving, the PCs will be penalised and completely lose their dodge bonus to range attacks, and when the guards are moving, the player will almost never hit. Small scorpions with poison at the start are easier to hit lying down from about 10 metres away with a handgun than point blank with a shotgun, SMG, or Sniper Rifle. Allies with firearms are less likely to hit than the players, but they tend to have weapons and gear that give bonuses to marksmanship, have the weapons strong enough to hurt evil guards. The players can't use those weapons due to stat requirements.
In the Star WarsJedi Outcast and Jedi Academy games, all Force-using characters (enemies and friends) but you possess immense (though not bottomless) Force batteries, have bullshitime perfect reflexes and cannot be surprised. Furthermore, their Force powers don't cool down and can be reused instantly. All this is designed to make them impossible to kill without a lightsaber, since they will deflect blaster bolts and telekinetically redirect missiles and explosives straight back at you. (Theoretically, one could lure them into a heavily-mined area, but that's more trouble than it's worth.) When you have a Jedi NPC, a Dark Jedi NPC and a missile launcher (or better still the concussion rifle) in the same room, it is actually possible to get the two to play an infinite game of Force Push tennis.
Also, similarly to enforce lightsaber combat, if you do attack them with normal weaponry, their powers and sword strikes are suddenly mega-effective and you will die in five seconds.
Also also, and there's no excuse for this: each lightsaber type has a different Force-assisted unbreakable kata. Enemy force users can use any of these with any saber, even when the movements of doing one of the sword katas with a lance should rightfully make chop suey of the user.
While enemies don't seem to do it, some of your allies can split their lances into two sabers. You can't.
If you've got the single saber, your three fighting styles are subject to Multi Form Balance: Fast style is weaker, strong style is slower, balanced style is, well, balanced. High-ranking enemies can use strong style at lightning speed and kill you in two blows.
Fire Emblem also contains arena opponents that have stats higher than the stat caps their particular class is supposed to have...
Case in point:Soldiers (low level enemy only cannon fodder) with enough HP that it can't properly be shown.
Fire Emblem also has numerous stages that are blocked by the Fog of War. You cannot see enemies through this, yet they all know EXACTLY where you are.
The fourth and fifth games take this to another level, though. Enemy units have infinite uses for their weapons and staves (a Sleep or Silence staff normally breaks after 3 uses, though the weapons angle is almost a moot point in these games), and any boss or miniboss that is holding a weapon with range 1 (or a magic tome with range 3-10) will magically materialize a weapon with range 2 or 1-2 when attacked from a distance they wouldn't normally be able to counter from. As soon as the battle is over, the weapon they used to counterattack will be gone.
In the first through fifth games, the Random Number Generator caused enemy units to score hits with changes at below 30% with alarming regularity, and scored critical hits as low as 1% fairly often. You, on the other hand, almost never do, and will miss with a 70% chance at least half the time. This was most likely due to the game using a 1-number RNG. Everything starting from #6 used a 2-number RNG, so things got a little more fair. This was semi-lampshaded in Shadow Dragon, where enemies in the Arena would have noticeably higher bet amounts simply by having a critical hit rate of 1%.
Awakening has a few tricks that could be described as "The Computer Is a Cheating Bastard: The Video Game", namely the Lunatic+ difficulty (which gives the already intense Lunatic enemies skills that are incredibly powerful, such as Luna+, an always-active skill that halves your physical and magical defense) and the map "The Strongest One's Name" , which pits you against multiple waves of enemies with +30 modifiers (A little note, the best modifier you can get is +11 and that takes selective breeding of units. You can get Limit Break, to increase all your caps by 10, but that takes a skill slot) and adds the final boss's Dragonskin Skill (which negates Lethality (an Instant Kill) and Counter (a Skill that returns melee damage) as well as Halving Damage taken) and Lunatic+ skills like Aegis+ and Pavise+. There is even a never-missing, Nosferatu (HP vamping spell) wielding boss who has 99 LCK and Miracle (A Skill that makes a unit unkillable while above 1HP, with a chance to activate equal to their LCK stat.)
Not to mention the enemy Forged weapons. A Player is allowed a total of 8 Forging Points, with a maximum of 5 points in any given stat. (+5 MT, +25 HIT, or +15 CRT) A basic forged weapon by the enemy uses 6 points (+4MT, +10 HIT)... they have a better "Hack Forge" that uses 12 (+8MT, +20 HIT). Expect this forge on just about everything in Lunatic.
Final Fantasy X has this in a few areas, but the most obvious use of this trope would be the Blitzball mini-game. Though at first appearing to be a pure sports-like mini-game, it actually relies quite heavily on numbers. Also, during skirmishes against other players, the numbers aren't always accurate; the actual value in the calculation used is partially random, being anywhere from half the listed value to getting a 50% increase. Naturally, the computer will favor the enemy by lowering your values while giving the opposition favorable boosts. To no one's surprise, it happens far more often in close matches. And if that wasn't enough, one team in particular, the Al Bhed Psyches, are so ungodly powerful that playing against them is just asking to lose unless you're very, VERY good (or several levels higher with cheap techniques).
The Monster Rancher series suffers from the same cheating as Pokémon, that PC simply ignores the missing rate, and top on this, your monster has far more chance of doing "foolery" instead of attacking, even when both are supposed to be equally unloyal due to master inexperience.
Several enemies in Tales of the Abyss screw the rules on numerous occasions. You have to be in overlimit to use a mystic arte. Several bosses that have them can use it randomly. They may also not only go into overlimit numerous times in a row. The final boss does both - when you take out half his health and get a cutscene mid-way through the boss battle, he may use Celestial Elegy without even going into overlimit or immediately go into overlimit twice in a row. The player can not do this themselves.
The major antagonist of Tales of Vesperia , Alexei is famous for ripping out his Mystic Arte, Brilliant Cataclysm, multiple times in a battle and he can do it up to 10 times on higher difficulties. Brilliant Cataclysm has a huge area of effect and does enormous amounts of damage. He cheats in multiple ways. First, he can use a skill that is a powerful attack and a healing spell at the same time without consuming TP, often spamming it to a point at which he heals faster than you can damage him. If you set your AI to stay away from the enemy, they will move in on him before he uses Brilliant Cataclysm to ensure that they are within the area of effect. If you get close to actually winning the battle, he can activate Brilliant Cataclysm without having to go into Over Limit, and it will override an All-Divide (that is supposed to halve all the damage dealt by both you and the enemy), usually killing your entire party in a single blow.
In both Tales of the Abyss and Tales of Vesperia, the traditional climactic Duel Boss ( Asch in Abyss and Flynn in Vesperia) can actually interrupt your Mystic Arte and counter with their own, which is downright absurd. Getting Luke's Radiant Howl off on Asch is made damn near impossible for this reason; he interrupts you every time.
In Vesperia it is literally impossible, as the player will lose control while the boss overlimits and uses his Arte even if he was stunned or on the ground, he would immediately recover. In Abyss it's possible though if the boss isn't in a position to attack by being stunned or in the air. Simply chain the MA from a full connection of Luke's Light Spear Cannon and the boss will still be in the air for the final hit and unable to counter.
Your allies cheat like rotten bastards in Tales of Xillia when you link with them. AI link partners will position themselves flawlessly behind your target, time their attacks to the frame to help with your juggles, use free abilities they otherwise don't have access to, and will move to defend your back the femtosecond a hostile decides to go for it. In fact, the system relies so much on AI omniscience and hidden abilities you can't link with player-controlled allies.
The Struggle in Kingdom Hearts II. When you get your opponent down to 0 HP, they are frozen for a few seconds so you can collect more orbs, before reviving with full health. When YOU get knocked down to 0 HP? You lose instantly.
The wrestling minigame in Final Fantasy VII's Gold Saucer. It's set up in a rock-paper-scissors style of punch-kick-block, but at stage 4, the AI will land a hit when previously your attacks would cancel out. And if you manage to beat Stage 4, Stage 5 takes the cheating to a whole new level - the opponent in invincible, and all of their attacks cancel out yours, so it's physically impossible to win!
And the chocobo racing minigame. From time to time, Joe will race against you, and his black chocobo, Teioh, isn't slowed down by obstacles AND will always have higher stats, even if this means breaking the limit.
But then you can cheat yourself in the Chocobo racing. If you Hold down some of the shoulder buttons your boost meter heals up, allowing you to overuse it - constantly, for some Chocobos - for an easy win.
Referenced in Star Wars: The Essential Guide to Droids, when explaining the dealer droid. These are programmed to deal for sabacc, and are occasionally told to ensure a house victory by, you guessed it, cheating like a bastard. This is usually reserved to gambling establishments that routinely frisk their guests, because droids are expensive and cheated customers are prone to using their weapons, which are designed to inflict damage.
Pazaak in Knights of the Old Republic is ridiculously biased toward the computer. It's played similar to blackjack, but with a side deck to modify the total value and the top is 20. The computer always goes second, so you're more likely to bust than it is. If you go bust, the computer wins without having to take its next turn, but then this applies to you, too, so it's more than likely a rule than cheating. It counts cards, so it knows when it will get a 20. Finally, it gets 20 more often than you do. The only advantage you have is that your side deck is better by the time you leave Dantoonie. There's also a guy in the first game who actually does cheat... more than the computer usually cheats, that is. Fortunately the player can cheat by saving before each game.
Knights Of The Old Republic II is far better about this. You now trade turns with the opponent and 20s are equally likely on both sides. The only minor unfairness is that the NPCs have cards you flat out cannot buy; you have to beat them for their best card. Some are real killers, too, like a tiebreaker card that beats even a straight 20 on your part. Cut content has Atton lampshade the unfairness of the first game. He accuses T3-M4 of counting cards and forcing him to go first in pazaak. The little droid will then proceed to clean him of credits anyway.
Interestingly enough, if you read Atton's mind, it turns out that he counts cards as well. Admittedly he wasn't actually playing at the time...
A dealer droid seen in the X-Wing Series is mentioned having "cheater prods" that are used on, what else, cheating players. This may be more of an example of the Computer Stopping Cheating Bastards.
This is part of the premise of Extra Mode in Phantasmagoria of Flower View, the 9th game in the Touhou series. In Extra Mode, the AI opponent is invulnerable at the start of each stage, until a timer runs down to zero, with the timer getting longer in each successive stage. To compensate, it is also on an A.I. Roulette and extremely weak, so it will usually die within seconds of the timer running out.
A common flaw in the Phantasmagoria installments is that the AI can literally dodge like the machine it is, meaning that barring the use of an A.I. Breaker, a computer opponent can choose when to eat a bullet.
In Spyro 3, you have to race a gang of rhynocs to get a dragon egg. The good news is that you get a special skateboard that can do turbo boosts. The bad news is that they have this too. It's even more frustrating when you find out at the start of the race that they can automatically use the boosts whenever they want while you need to use tricks in order to fill up the turbo meter at the start and whenever it gets empty.
Can be inverted by the player, by refusing to start the race, walking onto the track and standing under one of the auto-boost stars sitting above the track for 5 minutes, the auto boost effect stacks and activates once you start the race, so you can beat the race without ever doing a single trick. ThePlayerIs A Cheating Bastard, indeed.
In every Splinter Cell game, enemies alerted to your presence will never miss when firing at you with a pistol, even if the enemy in question is outside the range of the player's scoped rifle... Even if the enemy is far outside the range of the game's draw distance. Oddly, they will occasionally miss if shooting with a rifle. Also, once enemies spot you they will never lose sight of you, even if you're in perfect blackness.
The flight sim IL-2 Sturmovik cheats a lot (even discounting nasty surprises from the random mission generator, like being strafed on the airfield, before you can even get off the ground). CPU planes ignore much of the hardcore similationist aspects of flight, no matter what settings you use: they never fall into spin (which allows CPU to pull fairly ridiculous aerobatics even on planes unsuited for that); their pilots do not suffer from blackout/redout and have 360-degree field of vision, allowing them to unerringly foil surprise attacks and notice you even in heavy clouds; they pretty much ignore the severe winds and other adverse effects of the weather; they also can fly at maximum engine power as much as they want, while human-controlled planes, on the other hand, risk overheating and damaging your engine on realistic settings.
They also micromanage their trim and engine settings much faster and more precisely than a human can possibly manage and can outclimb aircraft that normally climb much faster than their own.
The "enhancements" to the Sentinel remake Zenith include fog, which can be so thick as to make it difficult or impossible for the player to see what's happening; the game can be totally unplayable because of this. Of course, the Sentinel and any Sentries are totally unaffected by even the densest fog...
The Dragon Quest series gives you a rare opportunity to put the cheating AI to work on your behalf. Normally, you have to enter battle commands for your party at the beginning of each round of battle. However, in several of the games, including Dragon Quest VIII and the Nintendo DSre-releases, the AI doesn't have to commit to an action until it's actually time to perform that action. Enemies that can break the rules that the player has to abide by is nothing unusual, but if you set your party members to AI control, then they get the same advantage that the enemies get - and because your party members will almost certainly have a greater range of skills than the monsters that you're fighting against, they'll be a lot better at taking advantage of it. It's arguably a better idea to tell the healer to be controlled by the AI, as they'll be able to think on their feet instead of having to think at the beginning of the turn and guess which heal is the best one to use.
White Knight Chronicles gives players strictly set ranges for melee weapons, bows, and spells. Get outside the range, and you can't use that attack. The computer characters, using the same attacks, have no such limits.
In Baten Kaitos Origins, the AI can apparently see your decks and figure out what to do, which is problematic thanks to the way the combat system is set up. As any veteran player can tell you, it loves to take out any character with a healing item. There are ways around it, but they mostly involve stalling and, in the long run, waste valuable turns.
Inazuma Eleven 3 has a show off section of the oppernents in almost every matches. They steal the ball from you, zip pass your team as soon as you kick off, and score a free goal as Endou suddenly forgets to use his skill to stop those shots.
This also plays in your favor, from time to time. Some story related events require you to use new skills that result in goals/saves/steals/dribbles, no matter the players' levels. Justified in that from the second game onward the games started following the anime's story much more strictly.
Tecmo's Captain Tsubasa is Nintendo Hard because your oppernents have infinite Gut, meaning they can keep spamming special moves while you're struggling with saving your bests of an offensive tactic. Their overall stats overpower your, and their aces usually have superior shooting power that it doesn't really matter if your team has a goalie. Even when you have the famous SGGK Wakabayashi, some really powerful strikers can still easily blow him away. Characters that used to be powerful like Matsuyama and Tachibana Twin, by the time you get them in your team, can barely get their shots past a keeper.
CT-2 is very harsh. There's no offside, so if a goalie catch the ball you throw at him, he'll send it directly to an offside player that you can almost never catch up.
This carries over into Touhou fangame based on Captain Tsubasa, Touhou Soccer Moushuuden... except the residental SGGK (Yukari) is usually on opponent's side. You get only China, who has problems stopping anything that isn't a normal shot.
The "Silence" status (and by extension the Silence geo effects) in the first Disgaea works differently depending on whether you or the AI are affected by them. For the player, it seals off skills, be they magic, weapon-based, or character-specific, entirely. For the AI, all it does is prevent them from using magic. All other skills are fair game.
Custom Robo Arena has computer players who literally cheat by turning up with illegal parts. You yourself cannot unlock these parts until you have already beaten the primary story and moved into grand battle mode.
Several Yu-Gi-Oh! games- most notably 7 Trials to Glory and World Championship 2004- allow the AI to use multiple copies of limited cards, which they will periodically abuse to destroy everything on your field with Dark Hole and Raigeki. Almost all Yu-Gi-Oh games also have "luck" as a stat that enemies possess, meaning certain enemies WILL draw their best cards at the exact moment that you get ahead.
In the X-Universe, boarding operations against Xenon capital ships fail automatically if there are less than eighteen (out of twenty-one max) surviving marines when they reach the computer core.
Ace Combat 5: It's only obvious with bomber aiplanes at low altitudes, but the AI pretty much ignores terrain. Watch in awe as an evasive C-10 flies through the ground and comes up a mile away without missing a beat. Obviously, your weapons cannot reach the plane through the planet itself, which sucks if it's a mission target and you're almost out of time.
The most obvious example in the game is in the mission where you have to follow Pops around an island. You then see him literally fly through first a mountain (not a cave) and then the ocean, and think to yourself "but I can't do that".
In Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots, the game uses it's highest difficulty as a free license to do whatever it wants. Ignoring the super-vision and super-hearing, the game takes it to the extreme with the stealth suit; even if you've got a 99% Camo Index (READ:Snake is invisible even to a thermal extent), an average mook investigating something as little as footstep noises will see straight through your entire disguise if he gets within a 15 meter radius.
The Hitman Series is very fond of this. Something as innocent as holding the wrong item in the wrong disguise means you're in for either a great deal of scrutiny or unprovoked assault.
Up until the third installation, the Splinter Cell Series was guilty of this as, upon entering the sight of a mook above 75% visibility, he will begin firing immediately whilst everyone in the area promptly charges directly towards you and can now see you in the dark. The kicker? Running anywhere but to the next area means they'll constantly pursue; even if you hide out of reach, they'll follow as close as possible and wait for you to come back.Indefinitely.
ReBoot is a show about the inhabitants of a computer, where a lost game results in damage to the system and (what is effectively) death of the participants. As you can imagine, they will pull every trick possible to keep the user from winning games. This includes things that are so unfair that it's surprising the User even keeps on playing on that computer, like moving ammo and extra lives from where they're normally situated.
... leading to Megabyte-Bob encouraging Matrix to break the game rules when caught in a game parody of Pokémon and Dragon Ball and the user is clearly going to win. "You're a renegade! CHEAT!!!"
...and Matrix shooting the player from behind. In a miniature golf game.
Cartoons often have games cheating to exaggerate how hard they are. Especially if they're coin-guzzling arcade machines.
In The Grim Adventures of Billy & Mandy when Grim complains about a game his is playing cheating, the character actually calls him a wimp and shoots his score, resetting it to zero.
Taken to extreme levels in the Regular Show episode "Rage Against the TV". No one can beat The Hammer.
Teal'c encounters this trope in a season 8 episode of Stargate SG-1. He says a computer simulation is too easy and the computer takes him at his word. Hijinks ensue.
Notably the computer cheats so blatantly and repeatedly that in the end they resolve the situation by doing what any self-respecting gamer would do: exploit a bug in the program to cheese the system, sending Daniel in to help while granting him tactical precognition.
And of course, there would be the time when the computer is on the receiving end of a Curbstomp Battle and decide to just blatently cheat by freezing, glitching and crashing the game. Not even Michael Jordan is that sore a loser.
Wii Sports does this a lot, usually by changing the path of the object in question. Baseball has to be one of the worst offenders - how do you get a foul more than 20 times‽
In the stadium part of Anti Idle The Game, the AI opponents will not only accelerate in growth much faster than you can but can also go over the cap allowed for stats. Trying to beat an opponent with a top speed you can't even approach is frustrating. This is on top of the already frustrating difficulty, even on the easiest setting.
So you are playing the poker mini-game in Dragon Quest VII, and you are having an incredible doubling streak: You have doubled 6 times already, and have 640 coins, and the current card is a King. You simply can't resist the temptation of doubling once again as the odds are just incredible. You naturally bet for low. The next card is an Ace. You lose. You scream in frustration and resist your urge to throw the controller at the screen. Well, more the reason for that because you most probably got cheated. You see, when you start doubling the game decides in advance how many times you are allowed to double, and if you get that far you will lose no matter what you choose (if you choose low, it will deliberately give a higher card, and vice-versa). This can be corroborated with an emulator.
Infamously, Metal Gear Solid had Psycho Mantis, an in-game example of The Computer Is a Cheating Bastard who not only reads your button input to perfectly dodge attacks, but also reads your memory card in order to mock you. To defeat him you have to move your controller to the second port, which bypasses his "psychic" powers. Being a No Fourth Wall series, if you attempt this same trick the second time you meet him he mocks you for trying the same old trick.
Call of Duty: Black Ops' combat training bots. They can SNIPE you with a smg before you can even pull up your scope, and if you watch the killcam, they ADS and aim in for you. When you're behind a solid concrete wall. And the INSTANT you walk around they mercilessly gun you down.
FIFA 07: If you're needing a goal in the last twenty minutes or so of play on a decent difficulty, it is virtually impossible to tackle the opponent, or to string together two half-decent passes. You're also much more susceptible to concede goals from nowhere, from players who usually wouldn't dare shoot in normal play.
The classic Commodore 64 baseball game Hardball was virtually impossible to strike out in later innings as the AI would never swing at anything outside of the strike zone and would hit practically anything inside, racking up singles and doubles with ease.
An enemy Navi in Mega Man Battle Chip Challenge will always have more Program Deck space than you do — even when you're using that same Navi. WoodMan, for instance, only has room for a couple of the best Wood-type chips when you control him. When Sal is controlling him, expect to be hit with those chips every round.
You could technically argue that the greater Battle Network justifies that: you're not using the Navi proper, your using a Navi Chip (which is a simplistic replica). It's still a valid example, since higher tournament Navis (and the Free Tournament dummies) are all rolling with enough Deck Space to make Hub Style blush.
Sam Flynn (failing to duplicate his disk just like the AI): Aw come on, is that even legal?
On space maps in Battlefront 2, computer-controlled fighters with fixed-forward weapons actually have about a 90-degree fire arc. Also, sometimes your own auto-turrets will kill you.
This report is on what just might be the most hilariously badly-programmed rigging in the history of Blackjack. Evidently, the dealer has an ace up its sleeve - or rather, about four of the Ace of Diamonds.
The most hilarious (and by that we mean cringe inducing) is the player having his blackjack beaten by the dealer's soft 17.
Sometimes in the Blood Bowl computer game, the AI does something no sane human would do (e.g, a hand-off and pass with dwarves past a high-agility intercepter, while it's possible to score another way'') and succeeds. Although the nature of Blood Bowl mechanics is such that actually succeeding on just about anything is certainly possible, especially with re-rolls, the computer seems to succeed almost every time it tries something so unlikely that only the most desperate human would dismiss the possibility out of hand. Furthermore, frequently the AI has set up so it can attempt this but then doesn't even try, so it's not like the AI has some bizarre preference for high-risk moves. The sequence of dice rolls in any given game is set before it begins, so the most likely explanation for the computer's overall behavior is that it consults the list of rolls then randomly decides whether to exploit that knowledge or to calculate odds like it doesn't have access.
This seems to be taken Up to Eleven in Ace Combat 6: Fires of Liberation with how much advantages the enemy AI is given. Speed match you in any plane instantly? note Commonly used to either outrun the enemy or dump speed suddenly to upset their pursuit similar Check. Fly in such a way that breaks the laws of aerodynamics? Check. Guaranteed hits if you're flying below a certain speed or heading? Check. This is quite obvious with the fight against the Super Prototype fighter, the Strigon Team, and the enemy F-22 and Su-47s. But there's glaring flaws in all of them that you can shoot down said Super Prototype with an A-10.
The AI can also execute Pugachev's Cobra (in any fighter) to dump speed and upset your pursuit. Guess what the player can't do?
Similarly, AI planes in Tom Clancy's HAWX can accelerate and maneuver at speeds that should be not only pasting the pilots but breaking the planes apart; they can instantly change direction 90 degrees or more if they're supposed to be fighting you, and your allies will instantly go to full speed when you give them an attack order.
In Madden NFL, the AI on higher difficulties will know exactly what play you called and respond accordingly. If you audible back and forth between run and pass plays, you can watch the defense react to them even though none of your players moved. And this happens early in the game, long before they could figure out a tell. Similarly, the AI can audbile into, out of, and within the Wildcat formation, which the player cannot do for Game Balance reasons. There are many, mnay more examples.
It can actually get worse: when during the Season your team has gotten to a 10-0 or better record, the computer will switch into what Bill Simmons call the "There's no f*** way" difficulty, which takes the previously mentioned quirks up to eleven.
A european sci-fi comic played an interesting inversion. The hero and his friends are trapped aboard a ship where the AI in charge decides to kill them all by cutting off the oxygen supply but offering the hero a chance to earn both air and freedom by beating him at chess. Stuck and on the verge of losing, the human cheats: he claims that the AI's last move is against some obscure medieval chess rule that he just made up, and thus that the AI has forfeited. They are all released, but the AI is last seen fulminating and grumbling that "nobody cheats against me... nobody cheats against me..."
In Lords Of Magic each faction has a legendary creature that can only be summoned once per game, (except Water's which can be produced freely). Unless they're computer controlled, in which case they'll make as many as they want, even having multiple copies of the unique creature in a single party. They also summon their Great Temple's magical creatures from the city's mage tower instead of the more distant temple so they can defend it immediately.
Armored Core is a series where you build a Humongous Mecha and go wreck stuff, and when one of the big themes series-wide is Crapshoot AI of course it's going to cheat. Examples include having all the optional parts on one of which takes up all the slots for optional parts, ungodly boosting speed and aiming ability, somehow getting almost destroyed and becoming better or reactivating, use overweight mecha, using stationary weapons while moving note this was possible for the player in older games or turning a piece of the environment into a One-Hit Kill weapon.
Inverted by the Rollerball-esque future-sports game Pararena: no matter which size of target you select for your own goal, the computer will resolutely play with the smallest and most difficult size.
In the majority of the Grand Theft Auto games, whenever you are tasked to chase someone down, the car they use will usually have the power to plow through traffic like a truck, even if they are using a sports car. This is a case of Scripted Event gone wrong (some car chases have the target be immune until you're allowed to hit them) as it makes it look like the game is favoring the enemy while you have to avoid all the traffic and keep up with the winding roads. On top of this, the enemy AI will always have perfect handling no matter how fast they are going while you trying the same stunt will make you spin out or flip over.
This also extends to the side missions involving racing against other people. Even if you are using a car that is exactly like the competition's, their cars can never be destroyed while yours can. They are also much harder to force into a spin (it's certainly doable, but they correct a lot better than street traffic does), and the AI has perfect handling. To compensate, the AI tends to get rather dumb at certain choke points.
San Andreas has a rather blatant example with a tanker truck. The mission involves driving up alongside it and having your passenger jump to it. To facilitate the constant speed and direction of the truck, it can magically hit the oncoming traffic so hard you'd think they were rigged with Hollywood-style flip devices. While the truck is certainly no slouch in our hands, the best you can hope is to get them roll over, and that's on a side hit.
On the similar-to-Countdown-but-not-actually-Countdown wordgame website apterous, the strongest computer opponent, Apterous Rex, will always spot the longest available word, will always solve the numbers game perfectly (or get as close as possible if it can't be solved exactly) and always spots the conundrum in under a second. Hilariously, if you somehow manage to beat Rex to a conundrum, it will sometimes accuse the player of cheating.
Kid Speedy, one of the Videlextrix games not directly linked to on Homestar Runner, puts you against 3 CPU opponents who run at constant, randomly-chosen speeds, and you have to come in at least 3rd place by grabbing healthy food items to increase your speed and avoiding fatty food items, which slow you down. Unfortunately, sometimes all three of the other racers will run at speeds higher than your possible maximum speed, the game will not give you nearly enough healthy items to have a ghost of a chance of competing, or it will completely flood the screen with unhealthy items to the point that there's no possible path through them.
When defeated in battle, Lords escape capture approximately 80-90% of the time. The player is captured and loses money or gear as a result every time.
Lords respawn automatically with a full party of their kingdom's units with a mix of tiers and types (infantry/cavalry/missile). If the player is defeated, even if they hold a fief for one of the factions, they must manually recruit and level their troops unless they had the foresight to garrison some at their castle (if they own one, and then risk an attack from the rival faction on the now weakened garrison). You could have a dozen highly prosperous towns, and must STILL go door-to-door begging for recruits.
AI parties don't require food to maintain party morale.
The AI can enter the parry stance with weapons that are flagged as "No Parry" in the Equipment screen. On higher difficulties, Looters can parry with kitchen knives and no shields.
If the player starts his swing first the AI will still land his hit first a substantial percentage of the time, even if the player's weapon is faster.
The AI can stop mid-attack and immediately change directions. The player can stop an attack and change directions as well, but must engage in a block to do so, which forces a small but noticeable delay no matter how fast the player is. The AI is not subject to entering the block animation to change attack direction, allowing them to instantaneously change their attack direction.
AI troops never inflict friendly fire. This gets really bad if doing melees at the arena, which are allegedly free for alls. Until four AI opponents decide to charge across the entire field to gang up on the player. And can swing through each other to beat the crap out of you.
For the most part, the relative speed engine used to calculate damage is fair, but then there are instances where you are swinging your weapon at a target riding at your same speed for almost no damage, when an enemy doing the same thing to you in the same situation would put you in a tight spot, especially if you are using a bow at the moment.
AI archers have both X-ray vision and sniper scopes. They can find you from a significant distance, even if line-of-sight is completely and totally blocked.
For that matter, no matter how far away your army is, and no matter what sort of terrain you're fighting on, your opponent's entire army will always adjust to every move the player makes when positioning his troops, making outflanking another army impossible. Additionally, when charging AI troops will always know exactly where the last enemy soldier is hiding and zero in on his position like a GPS satellite.
Fortunately, this is not restricted to the AI commander. The player only directly controls his own character and all AI troops on both sides work the same way, so the player can benefit from the x-ray vision and total lack of fog of war as well (and the player does get a minimap showing the position of each individual soldier on the map on both sides). Fights in forested and hilly areas will often come down to archer duels in which neither side can actually see the other through the foliage.
The iOS turn-based strategy Ravenmark Scourge Of Estellion has several limitations imposed on human players only. The player can only give orders before a battle turn, requiring great planning in order to anticipate enemy moves. Computer players are very clearly giving orders to units in the middle of the battle turn. Alternatively, the computer knows which orders you gave to your units (still cheating) and gives his units pre-turn orders with this knowledge in mind. Another clear violation of the rules is the computer being able to give orders to all its units on the battlefield, while the player is only limited to 6 orders per turn. The latter is not so much a problem in the sequel Ravenmark Mercenaries, which is focused primarily on multiplayer matches and small battalion engagements but is very evident in the first game, where the main focus is the single-player campaign and large-scale battles.
This is the bane of many a Let's Player. Among others, The Runaway Guys made a running gag out of "the Anti-Peach Brigade" (as the AI controlling Peach in Mario Party had a serious tendency to do this).
Casino/Amusement Park Games
Many arcade games are programmed to only make the jackpot or grand prize possible to hit once out of so many games. This is usually set via some kind of mechanism inside the machine, behind the coin box, or in the operator menu activated by a button behind the coin box for games with a monitor. One common implementation is to have a setting can go from 1 (or some other small number) to some maximum value X, or alternatively a "difficulty level" with each level mapping to a numerical setting in that range. Every game, the machine rolls a random number from 0 to X-1. If the roll is less than the setting, the jackpot can be won on that game; otherwise, the machine rigs the game to be Unwinnable. The other common implementation is to allow setting a minimum number of games that must pass since the last time the jackpot was won before it becomes winnable again. This is why some arcades will have one of those "stop the light" games with a four-digit progressive jackpot that hasn't been hit in over 1,000 games in spite of skilled players who can hit the jackpot at least once every 10 attempts on the same game at other arcades.
On British pub fruit machines, when a player spins a winning combination he is given the option to go higher/lower for the chance to win the next biggest payout. The machine decides in advance how far the player will be allowed to go, and there will come a point where a player who chooses to go higher/lower is guaranteed to lose regardless of the option taken. This has been proven by the Fairplay campaign, who ran the fruit machine software on a PC emulator, saving the game state before the choice is made. The machine cabinets are now required to display the message "This machine may occasionally offer a choice where the player has no chance of success".
The British National Lottery online games do exactly the same thing. For instance, there is a game where you can guess whether the next ball from the machine will be higher or lower, giving the illusion that skill is required to win. However, whether you will win or lose the game is decided beforehand. Sometimes it's funny to deliberately choose the least likely answer and then watch as a highly improbable sequence of balls emerge - again and again.
Coin-operated pub quiz machines were fair for a few years after they first came out, until the makers realised that some Renaissance Man types were making serious money off them. The response was to introduce gambling elements to the games that reduced them to Luck-Based Mission even for people who knew all the answers to the questions. Some games even introduce elements ostensibly requiring manual dexterity - for example, on Bullseye a player must hit a prize segment with a dart, and Battleships involves hitting it with a revolving turret. However, even when aimed perfectly, the game decides whether or not the shot will hit.
Stacker machines actually decide—before the game has even been played—whether the player is allowed to win a major prize or not; this means it's possible to "waste" winning games, as well as make your way to the end but never have a chance of winning. If the last square stacks up, it simply moves another step before stopping after you press the button, oops, you missed. Though this is understandable, as the major prizes tend to be expensive things like game consoles or MP3 players, it is cheating nonetheless. The machine doesn't cheat for the minor prizes, but that's because nobody cares about winning hair scrunchies.
In case you had any doubt, there's no warning of this (at least in Canada).
Claw Machines. Good lord. It's amazing how many people don't know this, but almost all claw machines are rigged in various ways. For instance, many machines lower the claw slowly and then pull it up quickly, tending to drop the prize with this sudden motion. The most common method of rigging a machine is to rig the claw so that it only actually closes tight enough to grip a prize every so often. If the machine is set to grip a prize, an experienced player will almost always win...but these instances are rare. On some machines, you get a chance to win every X amount of plays. Someone in-the-know could let other people play until the machine is ready to spit out a prize, then swoop in and take it. However, most modern machines use a Random Number Generator.
Also, it's often easier to grab a prize if it's lying on its side...and more often than not, the items (usually toys) are placed upright or some other way to make grabbing even more difficult.
Since claw games are really popular in Japan, quite a few of them are less about luck and more about skill. It boils down to how few coins you need to put into the game to get the item which is carefully placed to be manipulated out, rather than lifted out.
Many video slot machines are programmed with weighted reels, so that some stops are more common than others. This is virtually always used to make "near misses" happen many, MANY times more often than an actual win, in order to make the player think he's close to winning and continue playing. For example, the "Red White Blue" slot machine pays out the jackpot for hitting a red 7, a white 7, and a blue 7, from left to right. But for one configuration, each reel only has a 1/64 chance of hitting the properly-colored 7, a 3/64 chance of hitting the blank right above it, and a 3/64 chance of hitting the blank right below it - which means the proper combination is 27 times more likely to line up just above the pay line than it is to be actually hit, as well as 27 times more likely to line up just below the pay line. (And this is a milder case; it's not uncommon to make the adjacent blanks each the legal maximum of 6 times more likely than the jackpot space.) In addition, the white and blue 7's are 6-7 times more likely to show up in each of the other reels - red-blue-white is 49 times more likely to be hit than red-white-blue, and blue-red-white is 126 times more likely.note Note that the law requires reels to be independent, so the odds of the blue 7 hitting on the third reel, for example, must be the same regardless of what symbols hit on the first two reels. However, it's legal to simply make the blue 7 common on reel 2 and rare on reel 3, and the white 7 common on reel 3 and rare on reel 2, which is how the game achieves these near misses.
Japanese pachisuro (a.k.a. pachi-slot) machines spin until the player manually stops the reels, attempting to time the button presses to line up a winning combination. However, the machine is legally allowed to skip up to 4 symbols after each button press before stopping the reel; this is most frequently done to make the third reel skip past a winning combination. (The slot machines in Pokémon also do this, since they're based off pachisuro as opposed to Western slot machines.)
A particularly glaring example would be the casino game tournaments in the otherwise above-average Hoyle Casino 2011 PC game. While the human player sits at third base, the human must always place bets prior to the AI bots at seats 1, 2, and 4 deciding how much they are willing to stake. You can change your bet amount, but the bots will then do the same. In real tournaments, you're at least given the option of making a secret bet by writing down your bet amount and handing it to the dealers, to prevent other players from basing their betting on how much you stand to win or lose. This option does not exist in Hoyle Casino because, frankly, of this trope.
The arcade redemption game Tippin' Bloks was fair (i.e. the jackpot could be won on every game), although it would adjust itself to be harder for a while after a couple jackpot wins - it would spawn blocks on the opposite side of the screen, but you still had just barely enough time to catch them. But then many arcades discovered they were losing money on the machine due to people who practiced the game to the point where they could win the jackpot more often than not. This prompted the manufacturer to create a software update, which makes the game drop blocks so fast that they're impossible to catch in time, making the game Unwinnable by Design.
Animal Kaiser is a terrible offender at this. In order to attack your opponent, you need to get a higher power roll than them. So the game often rigs your attack roll in the opponent's favour, especially against the final one. If you stop your roll last, you'll roll one level lower than your opponent (even when it was supposed to stop earlier- they make it roll to the next number!). If you roll first, the opponent roll one level higher than you. Either way, you're screwed!
And if you got a "Doubling", which is the highest roll possible? The opponent will also get a "Doubling" and draw with you, forcing both to roll again!