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Secret A.I. Moves

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Suppose you have a game. In this game, there's a set of characters, vehicles or whatever that you can play with. Each of these has certain statistics and abilities.

However, when the AI takes control of the character, they pull off some crazy moves you've never seen before. You try to do the same, but nothing works. They aren't listed in the manual, they aren't on any website - in fact, when that character is under the control of a human, they cannot possibly pull off that move, regardless of how they press the buttons or waggle the control stick.


Sometimes an SNK Boss character in a Fighting Game has special moves that are unavailable when the player uses that character (otherwise they'd be an unstoppable Game-Breaker). That, or the move is much more powerful when the CPU uses it.

Note that this only applies to cases where both the human and the computer can play as the same character. If a character is unavailable to the player, their moves are fair game. (For example; it does not count for enemy-only moves in a Role-Playing Game). Furthermore, if a human player could perform the move but would require near-perfect timing to do so, that's Perfect-Play A.I., not this trope.

Sub-Trope of The Computer Is a Cheating Bastard. Usually related to Turns Red, since bosses gaining new attacks and abusing their perfect AI as they lose health are common in many games.


Contrast Player-Exclusive Mechanic when the computer can't use what the player can. Redemption Demotion is a specific case when applies to video games but it deals more with plot-based justification.


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    Action Adventure  

  • Ōkami plays around with this. The player character is Amaterasu, who in the backstory had a previous self who was called Shiranui. This previous self appears to assist Amaterasu for one battle, and in that one battle demonstrates complete superiority. It can run faster than you, jump higher than you, attacks differently than you, its Power Slash inflicts Death of a Thousand Cuts instead of a single hit, its Galestorm sends the boss reeling whereas yours is like a spring breeze to it, and its Cherry Bomb is basically a nuke. Oh, and it's about 3 times bigger than yours. Did we mention it can fly? Did we mention it has an incredibly overpowered Finishing Move? Did we mention you can't do any of this? It turns out that they aren't the same being after all - Amaterasu is the reincarnation of Shiranui, but Shiranui is male and considers himself her father according to the sequel Ōkamiden.

    Adventure Game  

  • In Space Quest VI, you're playing Stooge Fighter against a guy who somehow manages to pull crazy moves that cost a sixth of your health. However, the guy really is cheating in game, you can unlock the cheat if you learn it yourself in game.


    Artillery Game  

  • In Charred Dirt computer players have access to two unique weapons, Lead Shot and Sparkball, that human players don't - despite ostensibly choosing from the same pool of weapons. Also, the computer has the equally-unobtainable Mini-MIRV as a default weapon (fires three Baby Missiles at once). You get the one-shot Baby Missile. They also get their Superweapon assigned at random, while yours is tied directly to the character you chose. Which means they have access to the supers of the four unlockable characters before most players know there are unlockables.

    Beat Em Up  

  • In Anarchy Reigns, Max can use the Shun Goku Satsu to teleport from the player.
  • The Dynasty Warriors: Gundam games are all about this. All of the non-mook mobile suits have AI-only moves that take advantage of their capabilities. For examples, the F91 Gundam can create fully functional and independent afterimages, the Master Gundam has a massively damaging ranged melee attack, and any mobile suit with Attack Drones can retreat off the map for a while and leave them to attack you.
  • In Devil May Cry 3: Special Edition, Vergil as a boss has the Super Devil Trigger transformation (and repelling invincibility sphere during the transformation) and the Super Judgement Cut attack, both of which are unavailable to the player-controlled version.
    • CPU Vergil can also use an instant perfect Parry at will that immediately stops you, can use Judgement Cut more than three times in a row, can use his Tricks in such a way that goes from the player teleportation (to keep the offensive) to utter Teleport Spam to cross half the stage in less than two seconds, use the multi-Helm Breaker (the player can replicate this, but not to the same effectiveness), use a souped-up version of the Round Trip, perform a few combos the player simply can't imitate... Really, Vergil is just bad about this.
      • Though as it turns out, you do have some form of control of Vergil's Boss version Teleport Spam; in the team-up fight against Arkham, the game acts as if Vergil were a Doppleganger (which is why you can't Devil Trigger or use your current style). Though you don't have style actions, Vergil still has his Dark Slayer style actions. So pressing the style action button while cause Vergil to use Teleport Spam to come closer to you. You can't really direct it freely, but hey!
      • He can also block any of your firearms projectiles by spinning his Yamato. Which makes AI version of him Immune to Bullets. Well, almost.
  • In Bayonetta, Jeanne as a boss can perform multiple Wicked Weaves in a row, from any direction, summon demons in the middle of a fight and even send a missile into your face. You can't do any of that when you control her. Plus, boss!Jeanne uses giant bullets that somehow do massive damage to you, while your bullets are puny and completely useless against her.
  • In Viewtiful Joe, playable characters lack the flashier special moves that their boss counterparts can pull off. For one character, the VFX meter constantly drains while transformed, so most of the time spent playing as him will be out of VFX Mode (to compensate, he can always double-jump and his combo finishers feature added reach with his sword).
  • While Hyrule Warriors isn't a perfect example of this trope, in that the playable characters when controlled by AI use heavy moves the player does technically have access to, players are required to play out a certain combo of standard attacks before they can activate certain heavy attacks. The AI, conversely, can routinely bust out different heavy attacks as singular, immediate attacks. These are often played out in simplified, faster manners to keep the pace of the game up, for example Lana's cube-rolling attack lacks the rolling part, she just hops on top of a cube of energy and, after a short pause, blasts the area around it with electricity.

    Eastern RPG  

  • Father Gascoigne, the first mandatory boss from Bloodborne is a hunter like you, and he wields the Hunter's Axe and Hunter's Pistol, weapons that you can access from the start of the game. However, Gascoigne has a number of moves the player can't replicate with these weapons. He can fire the pistol like a blunderbuss, fire it while wielding the axe with both hands, perform an uppercut with the axe that scrapes along the floor in a shower of sparks, do a one-handed lunge with the extended axe and best of all, he can turn into a massive werewolf!
  • Dark Souls III: The final boss is notable for mostly averting this: almost everything it can do, a player with the proper build and equipment can replicate. The only exception is one of its spells in its final phase: a lightning spell in which it throws a bolt into the air, and several seconds later multiple Lightning Spears rain down on the player.
  • In Bravely Default your character classes are taken from bosses who hold the proper asterisks, and so you can eventually learn and use moves said bosses used in their fights... in theory.
    • The performer, Praline, during both fights in the final loop, has a variation of My Hero that is no cost to her and in fact even increases HER BP as if she was a target of the move (which normally COSTS BP and targets everyone but the caster).
    • The Conjurer, Yulyana, has both Meteor and Amped Strike, which are from two different classes, in addition to his own class, which the player can not do, and in fact, no other boss does. Though Yulyana is the only person alive who knows how to create asterisks, so he either knows how to use them better or has kept the best ones to himself.
    • The Salve Maker can induce weakness to an element and wide cast single target items but never both at the same time to make a whole party weak to an element like his boss can. Particularly jarring because the fight that this comes up in is one of the most difficult in the game and largely because it revolves around this move removing most of your whole team's defenses in a single turn.
    • The monk, Barras, has a version of Invigorate that does not have the 50% chance of backfiring, but rather guarantees a buff... until he's maxed out, in which case it's guaranteed to backfire and causes a self-destruct. But unlike simply being a backfired buff like the player Monk, it's a powerful attack that hits everyone on the field, EVEN IF YOU'RE JUMPING.
    • Also, multiple times in the game, the class-holding bosses run away from battle. This is notable because the player can run away from bosses, too, but NOT against asterisk holders. Especially since it's eventually revealed the Amazing Technicolor Battlefield that's used for those specific fights are specifically designed to prevent escape until the battle finishes.
  • Magus from Chrono Trigger is just plain unfair. When you fight him the first time, he has a bunch of crazy moves and a massive number of hit points, but when you get him in your party, most of those moves are unavailable and he has the HP of a normal character. On the flip side, Magus also gains a Player-Exclusive Mechanic in the form of Black Hole, a multi-target instant-death spell that would have made his boss fight almost Unwinnable if he had it back then. Through proper leveling, you can actually get back all of Magus's old moves and delight in having a boss character on your team... with the exception of his Barrier Change power, which now just increases magic defense, and his totally awesome looking HP Drain attack called "Geyser", which is gone forever (but has the in-universe justification of involving a ritual circle in his boss room).
  • In Eternal Sonata the final boss is Fredric (who has been a major playable character up until this point). He gains some shiny new special attacks such as "Applaudissiment Sonique", which summons massive bursts of energy to rain down upon your party.
  • Final Fantasy
    • Seymour in Final Fantasy X joins your party briefly, with a nice selection of magic. However, later on when you fight him as a boss he can now cast multiple spells simultaneously and summon Anima. However it should be noted that besides those, he has the same exact spells as he did when you controlled him... at first.
    • Enemy ninja Notorious Monsters in Final Fantasy XI use a special version of Mijin Gakkure that deals damage to everyone they're fighting instead of just one target, and worse, doesn't even kill them. A few even have a special version of Utsusemi, a spell described as creating multiple illusionary images of the caster to absorb hits, as real monsters that fight alongside of them. Inverted in that all normal job abilities are player-only and unusable by monsters of the same job.
    • Due to the Darkness ability being Dummied Out from Cecil's commands in the first SNES release of Final Fantasy IV, the mirror Cecil's usage of it turns into this. This also makes it a bit harder to understand that the point of the battle is to Sheathe Your Sword — gamers would have no idea that the move was depleting his hit points.
  • Inazuma Eleven 3:The Ogre has Neo Raimon, Red Team, and White Team. They have a superior version of Inazuma Japan's players, let's take Endou as an example. Neo Raimon Endou has Omega the Hand G5 (which is event exclusive), Konshin! (a move that powers up your move by 20% at the expense of more GP), Chowaza! (same concept as Konshin! but it takes 20% more TP instead of GP), and Power Element (same concept as the skills before, but it's a 50% boost; and it only activates if your typing is effective against theirs). This applies to just about every Inazuma Japan member in the three teams mentioned before.
  • In Kingdom Hearts: 358/2 Days, Saïx and Riku each have two completely different movesets: the one used by them as playable characters and the one they use when you fight them as bosses. All of the Organization members also have the power to immediately warp to you in the case they are left behind, an ability that there is no way for you to use when playing as them.
  • A rare instance of this trope actually benefitting the player's side: In Monster Hunter Generations, Prowlers have to separately activate the Big Boomerangs and Piercing Boomerangs buffs to stack them. Meanwhile, Palicoes (basically computer-controlled Prowlers that you can bring as hunting companions) can apply both buffs at the same time.
  • In Monster Rancher 2 Katos could learn Oil Fire and Oil Flame. The North American version made it impossible for Katos the player raises to learn it due to alcohol reference... The only problem is, they forgot to remove it from the enemy Katos moveset as well, leading to this trope.
  • Pokémon:
  • Shin Megami Tensei:
    • Shin Megami Tensei III: Nocturne and games that use a derivative of its Press Turn battle system has a move called Dragon Eye, usable by some enemy demons when they're the last enemy remaining. It will trade their one full-turn for four half-turns. Beast Eye is a similar move, giving two half-turns. Shin Megami Tensei IV allows the player's team to use a variant, Guardian's Eye, which grants three half-turns; however, it can only be obtained from the most difficult DLC boss and costs an exorbitant 255 MP.
    • Devil Survivor has a few bosses that can be unlocked and fused after you've beaten them. Expect the boss versions to have higher HP than the version you get and those broken 'eye' skills you'll never be able to get. The Four Devas also have a unique racial ability, while the fusable versions are just regular Kishin.
    • The Persona series isn't immune either. While Shadows and Demons tend to have moves that you simply aren't allowed to have, the most blatant example is at the end of The Answer in Persona 3 when you fight the members of SEES at the bottom of the Abyss of Time. They not only lose all their weaknesses, they also gain moves that you are not allowed to have. The same applies when the Shadow Protagonist/Figment of Regret copies the party members Personae. He even copies Athena, who is otherwise unavailable in this mode.
    • Persona 5 hits you with this again when you fight the Traitor; they have several moves they didn't have access to during their tenure in your party, particularly in the second phase of the fight. Lampshaded when Ryuji confidently boasts that he knows what the Traitor can do, but Makoto points out that if the Traitor was behind the mental shutdowns, then it's only natural that they didn't show the party the full extent of their abilities.
    • More than half of the moves used by bosses in Shin Megami Tensei: Strange Journey can never be obtained:
      • Ouroboros is a particular offender with his two. Mem Aleph actually has zero normal abilities. Not to mention the encounters, with such things as Strange Ray, Macca/Wastrel Beam...
      • Bomb Status can be inflicted on you and your demons. Anyone who is hit with it and not guarding will die and inflict damage equal to their HP to everyone else in this party. Take a guess as to whether your side can use this.
    • Shin Megami Tensei IV continues this proud tradition with some attacks from previous game like Macca/Wastrel Beam, a few new ones like the Minotaur's Labrys Strike, and a few moves that work differently when bosses use them (Sanat as a boss can inflict the Lost status when attacking with Gaea Rage, while player-controlled Sanat cannot).
    • Shin Megami Tensei IV: Apocalypse features a move called Imposing Stance, which cuts off a Press Turn from the enemy for one turn. This move is learnable. Its upgraded forms (Black Rider's Pressuring Stance, YHVH's Authoritative Stance, and Stephen's Crack Code), however, are not, since for the most part, bosses don't have more than three Press Turns. Furthermore, Samyaza'a Makabuild (+3 Magic Attack) and Black Rider's Calibrate (+3 Hit/Evasion Rate) are unlearnable, and DLC Mot's Guardian's Eye (a renamed Dragon Eye that was learnable in IV) is also unlearnable. A few non-fusable bosses with unique skills (Shesha, Vishnu-Flynn, YHVH, Hope, Hugo, En no Ozuno, and Stephen) have those skills blocked from use, too.
  • When you fight Bowser in Super Mario RPG, he has an attack that lets him shoot the spikes on his shell as projectiles (curiously, this is the only time he's shown doing this in the entire franchise). You can't use this attack when he joins your party later on.
    • Similarly, when you face Belome the second time and he copies your party members, which can all use attacks your normal party members can't ever use. Thankfully, their versions of the attacks are worse than the ones the actual characters use.
  • Tales of Symphonia:
    • Free-Run is something only AI controlled allies could do. Neither Enemies nor Human-Controlled Characters could Free-Run, but your AI-controlled friends could free run all day. This was fixed in the sequel, where the player could now use Free Run.
    • Zelos as a boss can use the spell Judgement which he normally can't use as a playable character: at some point it was Dummied Out of his spell list and it can be unlocked via Game Genie.
    • He gets Judgement on the player side in the later non Gamecube versions of the game, meaning all moves the boss version has can also be used by the player. However boss Zelos has access to all possible moves, both Strike and Technical, which isn't possible for the player as you can only have one or the other.
  • Xenoblade Chronicles 2: Guest-Star Party Member Jin has a blatantly illegal moveset, with far more artes than the interface has commands for. In chapter one, it's Foreshadowing, in chapter eight, it's a crutch.

    Fighting Game  

  • Guilty Gear:
    • When I-No first appeared in XX, her Boss mode had a special Overdrive, Megalomania, unusable by players, that made her completely invincible and fired a bunch of heart-shaped balls at you that took away around 60-80% of your health. Starting with Slash, however, it's available in her EX form, but your Burst meter must be full, and it's much weaker. Except in Gold Mode when it's not.
    • Dizzy, when faced as a Boss in Story Mode in XX, also has an unusable move called Wings of Light. It's a lot like Megalomania except it's actually an Instant Kill if you hit her while the move is starting up. Unfortunately, unlike I-No, it is not available to players at all, even in Gold Mode. CPU Gold Dizzy can and will use it, though.
    • Order-Sol, first added in Slash, lacks the version of Dragon Install his present incarnation uses, note  so his Boss and Gold versions get Flame Distortion to remedy this. It has the same basic effects as Dragon Install (speed and power buff, Tension refills rapidly, health regen), but additionally gives him higher defenses and locks O.Sol's Charge Meter at maximum. Good luck! Like I-No, players can use Gold O.Sol in Slash and the Accent Core titles, so they can be just as cheap as the CPU.
  • Mortal Kombat loves this.
    • In Mortal Kombat II, the CPU jumps while the character is still in a prone position to counter any hope of continuing a combo after a knockdown. The CPU can also throw you in the middle of a projectile attack, which the player simply cannot do. But that's not all; the CPU can also throw you in the middle of just about any other special move, making specials such as Raiden's torpedo complete suicide! They'll also pull off impossible knockdown-to-throw combos that the player can't even attempt to do, instantly throwing you if you fall to the ground and they're right next to you, shaving a quarter of your life bar in the process. If the CPU gets you into a corner, they can chain throw you to death by repeatedly throwing you into the corner, something that is impossible to escape and once again simply not possible for a human player to do. Finally, if the player traps them into a corner by spamming projectiles at them, they'll eventually slide across the ground while crouched down to avoid the projectiles and surprise surprise, throw the player.
    • Continuing the tradition from II, the A.I. in Mortal Kombat 3 has the ability to throw the player as the player performs a projectile move. The computer can also perform certain combos that human players are prevented from using, and some of the computer's combos do more damage than the exact same combo performed by a human player. The CPU can also launch multiple projectiles in quick succession, such as Cyrax's net. Trilogy includes playable bosses, and the projectile spam carries over to them too. Motaro's projectile is a charge attack but the CPU obviously ignores this and launches two at a time; there even appears to be a unique frame for this.
    • The 2011 game has an example: when controlled by the A.I., Shang Tsung can transform into your fighter and two other random kombatants at will. When controlled by the player, Shang Tsung can only transform into his opponent after using his Soul Steal move on them (to be fair, AI Shang Tsung does need to attack you with Soul Steal to take your character's form). Back in the day, when half the cast was Palette Swap versions of each other, he could turn into anyone, but advancing technology has its downside.
    • An interesting aversion/subversion of this trope also occurs in MK9: Bosses Shao Kahn, Goro, and Kintaro are not playable in the game outside of specific missions in the Challenge Tower (Kahn and Kintaro's missions are exclusive to the Vita port), yet have complete movesets programmed into the game. If they WERE to be made playable, all of their A.I. moves would be perfectly intact.
  • Killer Instinct on the SNES has this in the form of the boss and secretly player-usable Eyedol.note  As a boss, his "Energy Stomp" usually comes at the end of a multi-hit combo where he sends you flying with his huge club, and slowly recharges his HP as long as he's stomping. When you, the player, use him, doing the Energy Stomp does locks you in place for a free hit by your opponent, even if used in exactly the same way as when he's in boss form, and its only use is powering up his fireball attack to shoot three projectiles instead of just one. It's most obvious in Eyedol (Player-controlled) vs Eyedol (Boss) matches.
  • The A.I. opponents in Primal Rage all have at least one computer-only special attack that isn't mentioned in the manual.
  • Street Fighter II:
    • Computer controlled opponents could ignore the time portion of all charge moves.
    • Interestingly inverted in the arcade version of Street Fighter II: Champion Edition, where an A.I.-controlled Sagat would never use the Tiger Knee special. Meanwhile, the player character had no problem doing this. Apparently it was an unfinished special move that lacked new sprites, sounds and needed a unique button combination. It was later fixed for Street Fighter II: Turbo and every incarnation since.
    • Akuma throws two Zanku Hadoukens at a time when fighting him in Super Street Fighter II Turbo, but only one when playing as him. The former would become the exclusive ability of "Shin" Akuma in later games such as the Alpha series, and this version of him can also be unlocked in the Game Boy Advance port, Super Street Fighter II Turbo Revival.
    • In Street Fighter Alpha 3, the final boss for most characters is M. Bison (Dictator). Bison is playable in the game, but as a final boss he's stronger and has access to the Psycho Drive, which turns his Psycho Crusher Up to Eleven. Some of the ports/Updated Rereleases and Street Fighter Alpha Anthology mitigate this, either by having Final Bison as an unlockable character or granting the player access to hidden ISMs that, when used on Bison, give him the Final Psycho Crusher.
    • Street Fighter EX had culprits in the form of both Garuda and Bison's more powerful, True Final Boss incarnations (Bison II in EX2/EX3, True Bison in EX3). Garuda, in both his boss and Shin forms (the latter exclusive to EX Plus Alpha), possessed a special known as Maboroshi, which allowed Garuda to teleport when hit and strike the opponent from above, whereas Bison's incarnations get a Double Psycho Cannon and the MvC-style Knee Press Nightmare. Shin Garuda and Bison II could actually be unlocked in EX Plus Alpha and EX3, respectively, but True Bison remains unavailable outside of hacking devices.
  • Soul Series:
    • Soulcalibur III gives computer players the ability to block anytime they aren't in the process of being thrown through the air. Facing away from you? They can block. Knocked to the ground? They will mysteriously blink from prone to blocking faster than a human player could stand up.
    • From Soulcalibur II, Big Bad Inferno mimics a random fighter from the roster of playable characters every round and only uses moves also usable by players, except for his own special move, which he could use with any moveset: he jumps into the air and starts spinning, then rushes across the stage while airborne and continually spinning. Deals heavy damage, but at least it's easy to predict and sidesteppable and despite the fiery trail, it can be blocked (attacks wreathed in fire cannot be blocked) since it's not a power move, the fire is from Inferno's own character model.
      • Inferno also has a unique throw where he throws the character high, and when they come down, he impales them on his weapon for massive damage. Many players cite this as the reason they lost to him.
  • The Tekken and Soulcalibur series brush up against this (both are Namco fighting game series). Both games occasionally have unlisted moves that only the A.I. has access to.
    • A good example of this is in Tekken 5, where the final boss Jinpachi Mishima can stun the player at any point in the match. When he became playable in the PlayStation 3 version of Tekken 5: Dark Resurrection, the stun could only be used as a counter attack, while as a boss, he could still use it at any time.
  • In the Dead or Alive series, Alpha-152's AI has the ability to teleport from neutral. When she's playable in Dimensions and 5, it's only possible to teleport with her when countering, parrying or if you're knocked into the wall in a specific manner.
  • Various Skullgirls characters gain the ability to charge up their ensemble attacks when controlled by the A.I., something that could originally only be done by players when properly tagged in. Peacock's Shadow of Impending Doom attack, for example, limits the player's assist to dropping a teacup on the opponent. The A.I. can drop an anvil. This has since been fixed so that players can use any variant of a charged move as a support attack.
  • Exaggerated in Kart Fighter — most of Luigi's special moves can only be used by the computer.
  • In Gundam vs. Gundam NEXT, the True Final Boss version of the Strike Freedom Gundam possesses a unique Omnislash-style attack combining high-speed Diagonal Cuts with its Attack Drones and requires incredible reflexes to avoid. On top of that, it comes in two stages; after losing 1/3 of its life it summons the support mecha METEOR and spams the battlefield with BFGs and missiles; knock it down another 1/3, and the METEOR explodes but Freedom enters a Super Mode that lasts until either you or it dies (while the player-controlled version only lasts about 4 seconds). This was partly averted years later with Extreme Vs. Maxi Boost, which added a METEOR summon move to the Strike Freedom's moveset.
  • This trope is pretty much the whole point of the story mode of the Touhou fighting games, Immaterial and Missing Power and its sequel Scarlet Weather Rhapsody. Each AI opponent you fight possesses special spellcard attack patterns for you to dodge, intermixed with bouts of normal combat, and the spellcards ignore all the normal limitations the player has. This reaches the point where it works less like a fighting game than a multi-form boss battle. Which makes sense, given the Bullet Hell games that it's based on. That said, this doesn't apply to Arcade and Versus mode. Special mention goes to certain spell cards that are much better when the computer uses them in story mode. Youmu's Double Pain briefly creates a duplicate Youmu that can be used for a short attack. When A.I. Youmu uses it in story mode, the duplicate wanders around and attacks until the player manages to beat the spellcard. It doesn't disappear between player heath bars, and can even attack during what would otherwise be a pause in the action.
  • In JoJo's Bizarre Adventure: Heritage for the Future, the story mode NPC-only version of Vanilla Ice uses unique special and super moves, causing much more damage, although they are more predictable.
  • Subverted Trope in BlazBlue: Some of the major bosses (original Nu, Hazama, varieties of True Final Boss) are against the Unlimited version of that character, and seem to have secret Distortion Drives beyond the normal ones. However, once the player unlocks said Unlimited character, they can use those Distortion Drives as well. The catch? The AI knows what the secret button inputs are!

    First Person Shooter  

  • In BioShock, enemies with guns could melee you with their weapons while the only weapon you had with a melee attack was the wrench. BioShock 2 fixes this, letting you melee with any weapon, although the drill does the most melee damage. In both games, the enemies can throw grenades at random, where you are only allowed to do so when using the Launcher.
  • The A.I. bots of TimeSplitters can do Unnecessary Combat Rolls, despite there being no way for a human player to do this.
  • In some shooters you may not be able to punch, or whack stuff with your gun, but that doesn't mean the A.I. can't. Such is the case in some Medal of Honor games and No One Lives Forever 2.
  • Halo:
    • Enemies and allies alike can roll and dive around. You can't.
    • Inverted in Halo: Combat Evolved and Halo 2 with the Banshee; only the player can use the fuel-rod cannon secondary fire.
    • In Halo 2, AI-controlled Wraiths can use two plasma cannons on the hull in addition to the main plasma mortar. The player can't. Also, the Shadow APC could only be driven by Covenant, even though the player can control the turret.
    • The player cannot duel-wield in Halo: Reach, but Elites can do it just fine.
  • In Tron 2.0, A.I. lightcycles could make a hairpin 180-degree turn that the player could not. Even if the player used an input hack to press the turn button rapidly enough, he was simply not allowed to turn twice in such close succession. This made the A.I. racers so difficult to beat that the developers eventually released a patch that allowed players to skip over the cycle races.
  • Operation Flashpoint:
    • Inverted in one case. With good aim and a lot of luck, you can shoot down enemy helicopters with pretty much any weapon by shooting the crew through the windshield when they line up for a pass, or simply filling the vehicle with holes until its engine quits. Of course, you'll never last long enough to do so if you stand out in the open, but if some good cover is at hand and you have the nerve to try, it's possible. The A.I. never try to shoot at helicopters with anything but guided anti-aircraft missiles.
    • On the other hand, the AI is somehow capable of using unguided air-to-ground missiles to take out other copters. The problem here is that your gunner can NOT lock onto other aircraft with unguided missiles (i.e. right clicking on the target and giving the fire command will make your gunner automatically take the shot as soon as the target is lined up; this doesn't work on aircraft) so unless you are very good at leading a flying target with unguided missiles, you have to use the autocannon. And if you fail to surprise the AI and/or gain a height advantage, you WILL be hit with a missile barrage that shuts down your engine after the first few hits.
  • The Hunter in the Left 4 Dead series has a leaping ability he will use if you shoot him from a distance, throwing himself to safety. When you control the Hunter in VS Mode, you can't do the same instant leap ability yourself, but in a strange twist, if there there is an A.I. Hunter in VS Mode, the computer can't use this ability either! This was most likely having the ability disabled for VS Mode to prevent players from making easy escapes and Valve most likely forgot to have this check on the A.I. What is also strange, is a human-controlled Hunter in Campaign Mode can do this. This is probably because they simply enabled the move in campaign, but not in Versus, since you can't play as infected in campaign without cheats. The A.I. Hunter in Versus still seems to think he can use this move, and tends to run in circles when he's shot, resulting in Artificial Stupidity.
  • In Star Wars: Republic Commando, the A.I. had the ability to kick away nearby grenades. The player could never do this.
  • In the Call of Duty series - the A.I. on both sides could throw active grenades away from themselves from the beginning, but the player did not have the same option until Call of Duty 3.
  • In PAYDAY: The Heist, your AI allies can perform a diving roll to avoid gunfire and have the ability to hang off ledges to jump down to a lower level safely. You can't do the same thing.

    Four X  

  • In Civilization 2, the AI can also produce military units at will, units with multiple abilitiesnote , stealth unitsnote , and teleportation nukesnote . This could happen at the standard difficulty as well, but to a much smaller degree.
  • In Sid Meier’s Alpha Centauri, enemy units can use probe team abilities (such as taking control of your units) even if they aren't dedicated probe teams.


  • Shantae has instances where the titular half-genie utilizes abilities with her transformations that the player can never replicate.
    • Risky's Revenge has Nega-Shantae utilizing Teleport Spam elephant drops, swooping harpy attacks and mermaid bubble spam, on top of Collision Damage still being in effect. Worse still, since Nega-Shantae is made from Shantae's drained magic, Shantae is locked in human form the whole fight.
    • In Half-Genie Hero: Pirate Queen's Quest, Risky faces Shantae herself as the Final Boss. Shantae's attack include an enlarged elephant drop, mermaid bubble spam, swooping harpy attacks, multidirectional monkey bullets, rushing crab claws, darkness-inducing bat flights, and the 'mouse lightning rod'. Risky has all her pirate's tools, however.
    • In Half-Genie Hero: Friends to the End, Bolo, Sky and Rottytops have to deal with Nega-Shantae again, with every attack Risky had to put up with, plus spider venom spam and drop attacks. The three together are far less durable than Risky, however, so even with Rottytops' cache of brains, you're in for a bad time.

    Platform Game  

  • In Sonic the Hedgehog 2, Tails, when controlled by the A.I., can use his tails to fly in order to catch up with Sonic. Many players wondered how to do the same when using Tails as the player character—but this wasn't possible until the next game in the series.
  • Any time in the Mega Man X series where Zero is fought, he pulls off moves he shouldn't normally be capable of as a playable character, such as Beam Spam with his laser sword.
    • In X5, X and Zero fight one-on-one towards the end of the game, with the character you didn't choose controlled by the AI. Zero uses attacks no Maverick has ever used before, and he as a playable character can't use them. X uses his Ultimate Armor regardless of whether or not you obtained it, and also uses moves from the previous game, which don't carry over when you play as him, and also spams them far faster than they were ever capable of being used.
    • In Mega Man Zero 3, Omega Zero has most of your EX Skills, as well as lethal sword combos and unique attacks such as summoning spinning lasers out of the ground to hurt you and heal himself. Of course, Omega Zero is said to be Zero's original body, made to be the God of Destruction.
    • All the bosses in Mega Man ZX Advent have tons of moves you can't use when you transform into them. The most egregious example is Queenbee, who carries a gigantic armored hive when you fight her, capable of firing missiles, small bees, five massive lasers at once, and lasers that cause massive fiery explosions. When you play as her, you get two attacks. And none of the objects you can dock with and actually carry around can attack or do anything.
    • If you fight Copy Robot on Hard Mode in Mega Man Powered Up, he has access to Mega Man's Charge Shot even if you're not playing as Mega Man C (the version of Mega Man who retains his slide and Charge Shot.)
  • Inverted in Kirby's Dream Land 3, in which a computer-controlled Gooey cannot use Power Copying like he can when the second player controls him.
  • Super Mario Bros.:
    • In Super Mario 3D World, Final Boss Meowser uses the same power-ups that you've been using the entire game, Super Bell and Double Cherry. Except that he, unlike you, can destroy any obstacles in front of him with ease as he climbs up walls, and his clones can clearly act on their own when your clones all move simultaneously. While the former is explainable by Bowser simply being far stronger than Mario, the latter... not so much.
    • Inverted in Super Mario Odyssey, where some player-controlled enemies (made possible through Mario's Capture mechanic) can perform actions that the computer-controlled versions won't do on their own, such as the Bullet Bill's acceleration boost and the Pokio's Spin Attack.
  • Kevin, the Mirror Boss in Gamer 2, can shoot his derezzer diagonally. You can't.

    Racing Game  

  • Super Mario Kart officially did this, with each character having nicely documented moves in the manual specifically that only the A.I. could use against you. For example, Bowser threw fireballs, Peach and Toad threw poison mushrooms, and the Mario Bros. could use stars practically at will. This was likely intended for game balance, since A.I. racers could not use regular items.

    Real Time Strategy  

  • In Command & Conquer: Tiberian Dawn, whenever the computer uses the airstrike superweapon, unlike the player it can fully control the bombers, allowing them to track fleeing targets and even switch to another target once the first one is dead.
  • Homeworld:
    • In the second game, your enemies can fly through and hide inside radioactive clouds with impunity (radioactive clouds cause hull degeneration that will kill anything but Movers inside of 30 seconds). You never get the ability to do this without using a special shield projection vessel (which only lasts about the same amount of time).
    • Also, remember subsystem targeting? That was added in HW2? Guess what: the A.I. could do it in Cataclysm but the player couldn't. This only really mattered against AI opponents in Skirmish mode, however: Exactly one NPC ship had separate subsystems, which wouldn't have been all that useful to target anyway because they were to do with the "Support Unit" system rather than anything directly combat-related (unlike The Mothership of the player's faction and its Seige Cannon), and in any case there were only two levels where it was present outside of scripted events.


  • Minor example in NetHack: Dragons have long-range elemental breath weapons. Arch-liches can summon hordes of monsters. Don't expect either of them to keep these abilities if you use a taming ability to turn it into your pet. (If you polymorph yourself into a dragon, you can use breath weapons, but "monster spell" abilities—unless there's a similar spell found in conventional spellbooks—are out of the player's reach entirely.)
  • FTL: Faster Than Light:
    • When you use weapons that fire more than one shot, all shots will hit the same target. However, when the enemies use such weapons, the shots will hit random targets, spreading the damage out. This means getting hit by a salvo can knock out several systems at once, but it also means the enemies can't focus-fire high-priority systems.
    • One of the random events that can happen in between jumps is a boarding party teleporting in from out of apparently nowhere and start wrecking havoc on your ship. The thing is, for a good deal of time, this could happen even if your ship had Zoltan Shields, which were specifically designed to deter, among other things, boarding parties warping in. Not even an explanation on how could they do it was given! And then came the Advanced Edition update, which brought the Zoltan Shield Bypass augment, allowing such incursions to happen... Instead of giving it a chance to dodge the encounter due to said shields, as it happens with quite a lot of other pieces of equipment, it allowed all of the random encounters of this nature to preemptively deploy the Bypass.
  • Pokémon Mystery Dungeon: Explorers does this with the enemy Pokémon in the dungeons. The Pokémon will have access to higher level moves and several IQ skills (like PP Saver) in the later dungeons, but if you were to actually recruit them, they'll have the normal moveset and lowest IQ. The most blatant example of this is ALL the Nidoqueen having access to Earth Power in World Abyss regardless of level.

    Shoot Em Up  

  • Event Horizon:
    • Some of the AI-controlled ships use weaponry that is unobtainable by the player.
    • In Event Horizon: Frontier, the boss wormship at highest difficulty uses all endgame weapons, including a ion cannon. While the player-controlled version has large enough weapon slot to equip them all, it cannot equip cannons.
  • In the Touhou shooters where you have a choice between playable characters and you have to fight the one you didn't choose as a stage boss. No matter which character you choose, your opponent will always be the one unleashing the actual Bullet Hell.

    Sports Games  

  • In Arc Style: Baseball!! 3D, Normal and Macho pitchers controlled by the CPU can pitch two-seam fastballs. You can't when you control them.
  • NES Nintendo World Cup has the Tournament Mode. In that mode many teams have advantages over the player.
    • With Team USA, the A.I. has very fast players. If you play as the USA Team, you'll get normal speed players.
  • In an NFL game by Konami on the Game Boy, the player could only move nearly half as fast as the AI players did.

    Simulation Games  

  • In the original Railroad Tycoon, the A.I. sometimes builds a "bridge" not across but along a river, which is, needless to say, impossible both for the player and in real life. It's like having a bridge of the length of the Danube. The A.I. also has the ability to build 4-way stations, while players are limited to only two-way. Not to mention, instantaneous rail building.

    Strategy RPG  

  • Super Robot Wars likes to do this with characters that are both enemies and allies at different points of the story. Asakim from Z comes to mind. When he's playable he can't use his final attack. This makes sense early on since its an ability using his dark powers you aren't supposed to know he has but every time he shows up after The Reveal in an Enemy Mine situation it stubbornly disappears from his attack list, even if the enemy version was using it on you minutes before.
    • If you get the right event flags however he'll join you one last time during the final battle with twice as much HP than usual and the ability to use his final attack as well as his MAP attack. It has to do with coding. 5,000 HP Asakim doesn't have it, 10,000 does.
  • In Makai Kingdom, enemies wielding mallets can drain a target's levels permanently with all attacks. Not for your troops. (Not so much of a disadvantage, as reducing the enemy's level would mean less exp.) Similarly, enemies who occupy or recently occupied an academy would spontaneously level up each turn. Your troops just got a 50% boost to exp gain.
  • When Fire Emblem: Three Houses pits you against characters you didn't recruit, many of them wield abilities or magic spells that they cannot ever learn as a playable unit.
  • Selvaria from Valkyria Chronicles has a special version of the Heal All order that heals all units to full, while the version the player gets only heals all units by 80 HP. Even in the DLC where you get to play as Selvaria in all her overpowered glory, you play her before she learns this completely broken order.

    Western RPG  

  • Mass Effect:
    • The krogan are said to possess backup vital organs (in some cases, more than one backup); thus, when a krogan is killed in a way that leaves his body intact, he merely falls down for a few seconds, then gets back up after regaining about half his health. In ME1 and 2, Shepard can recruit a krogan into his/her party, but in both games, said krogan lacks this regenerative ability.
    • The krogan character that can be recruited into the party has continual health regeneration, which is something that enemy krogan lacked in ME1. The krogan regeneration power was actually pretty similar to the effects of Shepard using a Medi-Gel item, except that it only applied to a single enemy instead of the entire party like the Medi-Gel power.
  • Cyberpunk 2077: V's companion Jackie Wells routinely dual-wields a pair of handguns, but V themselves can only ever wield a single gun or melee weapon at once.

    Wrestling Game  

  • WWF Superstars and WWF WrestleFest allowed computer-controlled characters to do various moves that a human-controlled player could not, including:
    • Duck to avoid virtually all running attacks.
    • Perform a throw directly from a grapple.
    • Perform an Irish whip from a headlock.
    • Let go of a headlock, leaving the opponent stunned.
    • Perform stronger moves earlier in the match. (WrestleFest only)
    • Taunt.

    Tabletop Games  

  • In the board game Scotland Yard, the enemy, Mr. X, though usually played by a human player, has access to the 2x move tickets and black tickets; the latter are particularly secretive since they can be used to stand in for any other ticket. At least Mr. X only gets a limited number of these types of tickets, since the other players, not having them in the first place, never surrender them upon use.
  • Dungeons & Dragons third edition went well out of its way to let you play as almost any monster in the books, though due to the painfully restrictive rules for playing monster PCs, they end up being either completely useless (with powers that work well against humanoids like typical player character races but are useless against undead and demons) or so seriously compared to whatever they're fighting. Discussed in Libris Mortis, a supplemental book about undead.
  • Paranoia has one of the strongest special GM-only secret moves; an NPC may have an ability called "GM Fiat," which is Plot Armor handed down from the Game Master themselves and is utterly inviolable. Players are advised not to admit they now know this, as Paranoia encourages the GM to kill players who know the rules and players to read the rules in secret and hide their knowledge while exploiting them.


  • The computer in one of the Dragon Ball games defies the rules of teleportation: normally, after attacking someone with a fully charged attack, you can teleport behind them ONCE and knock them away. The enemy can do this up to and including three times from the fighting equivalent of a flick. This is probably because the enemy A.I. cannot tell the difference between being in maximum power mode and being energy-less.
    • In Tenkaichi 3, there are items one can equip to increase the number of teleport follow-up attacks one can do, which are available to the player. However, simple math and attentiveness reveals that the computer uses more item slots than you can possibly have. This is due to a normally CPU-exclusive class of items. However, with the right password, you can get special versions of any character in the game with the same power-ups as the computer.
  • Considering the combat options in Mirror's Edge are so limited, it's a bit galling that they made up a bunch of handy backflip and dodge moves... and only gave them to the Project Icarus police, but not the player. You also can't Pistol Whip, unlike all the cops in the game.
  • Enemies in City of Heroes have access to power combinations and unique moves that player characters simply don't normally have access to. Of course, enemies don't usually have access to power pools, so it sort of balances out. ... Unless you're fighting Ghost Widow.
  • In Ghostbusters: The Video Game, your allies have a slow-walk animation which you can't do. No matter how lightly you tilt the stick, you'll either fast-walk or not move at all.
  • Positive example in Muramasa: The Demon Blade. When changing weapons, the player can use a "Quick Draw" attack which instantly hits everything on the screen for decent damage. No enemy in the game will block this, except for the Mirror Bosses. Pull out one of these against your opposite number and they'll react with the same attack, parrying everywhere on the screen at once. This is okay, though, because (a) they don't do it every time, suggesting they have to charge the Quick Draw just like you do, (b) having a defensive version of the move means they never use an unblockable Smart Bomb on you, and (c) it looks freaking awesome.
    • Said mirror bosses do have a traditional secret AI move, where they throw you into the air to do a cool looking dash attack spam that seems to involve clones.
  • Many secret characters in Castlevania games are bosses that you eventually fight in their respective games, and true to this trope, the boss versions of these characters tend to use moves which are either flat-out not available to their playable versions or much stronger than their playable counterparts. Some of these characters, however, invert this trope, in that they have moves which are never used by the boss versions.
  • Out of the ten Epic NPC Hero versions of playable classes that sometimes appear during arena matches in Elsword, nine have access to extra combos or skills that players of the same class can't use.
  • This happens in both Transformers: War for Cybertron and its sequel Fall of Cybertron, as an inevitable consequence of having a campaign in which the player shifts perspectives so often. In the first game, the boss fight against Starscream in the first level of the Autobot campaign gives him some kind of aerial cluster-bombing attack that was impossible to do when you were playing as him in his own level. FOC is even worse; Jazz can use his grappling hook to swoop down on unsuspecting enemies when he's an NPC in Cliffjumper's stage (as opposed to only being able to use it to swing from stuff or pull things down, which is what the player is restricted to), while Bruticus, Optimus Prime, and Megatron all gain new abilities only when fought as bosses (Bruticus can fire at you with the cannons on his back, while both Optimus and Megatron can transform and attack you in vehicle mode during the Final Boss fight, while you yourself can't transform at all, Optimus has Shockwave and some sort of leaping attack and Megatron somehow has both Whirlwind and hover at the same time).
    • Thankfully however, Optimus lacks his airstrike from when he was playable before the fight, Megatron can't hover-slam you out, and Bruticus lacks his insta-kill spammable Sonic Pain Wave.
  • Unlike the player, the A.I in Grand Theft Auto V has the ability to crouch, while you can only go into "Stealth Mode" which is essentially your character just hunching his body over a little in order to make less noise. Several mods on PC effectively replace this Scrappy Mechanic with a proper crouch button using the A.I's animation to do so.


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