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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 A.I. 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 A.I. 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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  • In Civilization 2, the A.I. can also produce military units at will, units with multiple abilities,note  stealth units,note  and teleportation nukes.note  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.
    • They can also land artillery strikes while being transported by ships.

    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 three 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.
  • 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 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. He can also block any of your firearms projectiles by spinning his Yamato. Which makes AI version of him almost Immune to Bullets.
  • 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.
  • 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 A.I., 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.
  • 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).

    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!
  • 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).
  • 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 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:
    • 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.
    • 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.
    • Final Fantasy XIV has a strange, retroactive spin on A.I.-exclusive abilities. Certain NPCs and enemies have classes that match (or closely resemble) those available to the player, but their moveset is based on the class's abilities at the time the NPCs were implemented. This means that you can catch NPCs using abilities such as Featherfoot, Hawk's Eye and Internal Release - abilities that used to be available to players, but aren't any more.
  • 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:
    • In Shin Megami Tensei NINE, when more than one member of a party uses the same skill at the same time, it forms a combo skill. Skills of all elements except Almighty can be used in combos, however, since the protagonist is the only party member who can use Gun skills, Gun combo skills are only seen in boss fights against groups of human enemies.
    • 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 Personas. 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.
  • Super Mario RPG:
    • When you fight Bowser, 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 A.I.-controlled allies could do. Neither Enemies nor Human-Controlled Characters could Free-Run, but your A.I.-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 1, it's Foreshadowing; in Chapter 8, it's a crutch.

    Fighting Game 

  • Subverted 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!
  • 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.
  • In Dragon Ball Xenoverse and Dragon Ball Xenoverse 2, certain Parallel Quests have the A.I. using versions of Vegeta in his Saiyan Saga and Namek Saga armors and Captain Ginyu in Goku's body who can all turn into Super Saiyans, despite the former canonically not obtaining the transformation until the Android Saga and the latter being fought and defeated a bit of time before it was introduced. Meanwhile, the player cannot do the same without modding.
  • 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.
    • Ky gets one when faced as Bridget's Stage 9 Extreme Route opponent in -STRIVE-'s Arcade Mode. Stuck in his Dragon Install form, he can perform a new Overdrive attack not available to him outside this fight.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Exaggerated in Kart Fighter — most of Luigi's special moves can only be used by the computer.
  • 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.
  • In The King of Fighters XV, Omega Rugal has a Level 2 Super where he begins walking menacingly, making him invulnerable to almost every attack and counter except for command grabs. Shoot a projectile? Deflected in almost every case, with a giant Haoken and a laser beam doing nothing at all. Attack him or get close to him? He counters back at you. There are only 3 known moves that bypass this: Heidern's Level 3, another Rugal's Level 3, and Re Verse's desperation grab.
  • Mortal Kombat loves this.
    • 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.
    • Mortal Kombat 3: Continuing the tradition from II, the A.I. in this game 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.
  • The A.I. opponents in Primal Rage all have at least one computer-only special attack that isn't mentioned in the manual.
  • 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.
  • Soul Series:
    • 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 can 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 actually coming 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.
    • 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.
  • Street Fighter:
    • Computer-controlled opponents can ignore the time portion of all charge moves.
      • Likewise, any of Zangief's grab moves which would normally require the player to jump is ignored by the AI.
    • 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. Bison is playable in the game, but as a final boss he's stronger and has access to the Psycho Drive, which amplifies his Psycho Crusher. 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), possesses a special known as Maboroshi, which allows 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.
    • Gill, the final boss of Street Fighter III, is playable in Street Fighter V and has to play by the same rules as everyone else, but when reprising his final boss role in the SFIII Arcade Ladder, Gill can use both V-Skills (you get to choose one for your character), has both V-Triggers always on (you get to choose one and can only activate it after filling the V-Gauge), and gets his other two Critical Arts from III.
  • Like sister Namco fighting game series Soulcalibur, Tekken brushes up against this from time to time, occasionally having 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.
  • Them's Fightin' Herds does this for each player character when faces as bosses in Story Mode:
    • Velvet can completely envelop herself in a tornado of ice and generate a wind that blows the player back, while she throws ice shards from a safe distance. If the player gets close enough to attack her, she'll feebily try to swat them away.
    • Paprika can now hide against the screen. From there, she'll either disappear then roll in from either side, or turn around and tackle the player. Her belly flop was also introduced here before becoming part of her normal moveset.
    • In her second stage, Oleander gets an attack that creates a pillar of dark magic where she's standing, stunning the player. In her final stage, she can fly and shoot fireballs, and gets a devastating full-screen One-Hit Kill attack, while Fred grows massive in size and can punch the player from either side of the screen.
  • 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.

    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.
  • 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.
  • 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, A.I.-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 can only be driven by Covenant, even though the player can control the turret.
    • The player cannot dual-wield in Halo: Reach, but Elites can do it just fine.
  • The Hunter in the Left 4 Dead series has a defensive 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: 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. 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.
  • 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.
  • 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 A.I. 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 A.I. and/or gain a height advantage, you WILL be hit with a missile barrage that shuts down your engine after the first few hits.
  • In PAYDAY: The Heist, your A.I. 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.
  • In Star Wars: Republic Commando, the A.I. has the ability to kick away nearby grenades. The player can never do this.
  • The A.I. bots of TimeSplitters can do Unnecessary Combat Rolls, despite there being no way for a human player to do this.
  • 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.


  • Shantae has instances where the titular half-genie utilizes abilities with her transformations that the player can never replicate.
    • Shantae: 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.
    • Shantae: Half-Genie Hero:
      • In Pirate Queen's Quest, Risky faces Shantae herself as the Final Boss. Shantae's attacks 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 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 

  • Kevin, the Mirror Boss in Gamer 2, can shoot his derezzer diagonally. You can't.
  • 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.
  • Mega Man:
    • 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 A.I. 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 from Mega Man 3).
  • Sonic the Hedgehog:
  • 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.

    Racing Game 

  • In Crash Team Racing the A.I.-controlled carts can power-slide whenever they want, unlike the player who has to do a hop before they can begin power-sliding. This is what allows the A.I.-controlled carts to maneuver through tight turns like the spiral in Papu's Pyramid or Dragon Mines so effectively and well as get slide-turbos more often, giving them a huge handling and speed advantage over the human racers.
  • Super Mario Kart: The game does this with each character having nicely documented moves in the manual specifically that only the A.I. can use against you. For example, Bowser throws fireballs, Peach and Toad throw Poison Mushrooms, and the Mario Bros. can use stars practically at will. This was likely implemented for game balance, since A.I. racers cannot 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.
    • Buildings can normally be placed only next to another. The computer can rebuild lost structures where they used to be even if they were freestanding, unlike the player.
  • 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.


  • 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.
  • 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.)
  • Pokémon:
    • 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.
    • Pokémon Mystery Dungeon: Gates to Infinity does this with bosses' moves which work differently than they do for you. For example, Kyurem's Dragonbreath needs charging up, but it pierces through Pokémon.

    Shoot 'em Up 

  • Event Horizon:
    • A.I.-controlled Elite Mooks often use weaponry and modules unobtainable by the player. While most of these are Purposefully Overpowered versions of regular equipment, some are different entirely, such as a homing stasis field.
    • In Event Horizon: Frontier, the boss wormship at highest difficulty attacks with all endgame weapons at once, including a ion cannon. Even though 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:
    • 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 Konami's NFL Football on the Game Boy, the player can only move nearly half as fast as the A.I. 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 

  • 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. Some of these abilities can be accessed by other characters when recruited, but a number of them grant them Contractual Boss Immunity as an important character.
  • 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 get a 50% boost to EXP gain.
  • Super Robot Wars:
    • SRW 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.
  • 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 
  • Baldur's Gate II: some powerful enemy wizards have a special ability called "power tattoo", unavailable to your wizards, which acts like an upgraded contingency that triggers a wide number of defensive spells instantaneously when you enter into their visual range. It is actually conceived to mimic pre-battle buffing, which the AI doesn't do.
  • 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.
  • 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.

    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 

  • 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.
  • 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.


  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Dragon Ball:
    • The computer in one of the 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 energyless.
    • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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, however, have a traditional Secret A.I. Move, where they throw you into the air to do a cool-looking dash attack spam that seems to involve clones.
  • 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.