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Basic Trope: In a video game where you can face the computer in a match, the computer seems to have advantages that you don't.

  • Straight: In the hit Fighting Game Troper Wars, the CPU always manages to kick your ass because its character has projectiles. When that character is human controlled, it doesn't have a projectile attack.
  • Exaggerated:
    • The CPU can dodge attacks. You can't. And it uses its unblockable, unavoidable, One-Hit Kill move in the first seconds.
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    • In the First-Person Shooter Troperian Warfare, the Wave-Motion Gun is normally Awesome, but Impractical because it is extremely slow and only has enough ammo for one shot. When an AI player gets it, the gun is much faster and has infinite ammo.
  • Downplayed:
    • A CPU player's numerical stats are slightly higher than for a human player, but the A.I.'s simplistic behavior is easy enough to exploit for experienced players.
    • The CPU always has better equipment and the like, which the human only could get at a later point in the game.
    • The CPU uses the same moves but they don't have the delay for a move slightly faster than the minimum charge time.
  • Justified:
    • The computer prioritizes wrong things. In Troper Kingdom, your goal is to defeat the army of the enemy. Bob, the A.I. commander, is seen to always prepare attacks against your camps, even if there is no reason to, and never sends any units on resource gathering trips. Because of this, the A.I. automatically gains material even when they logically shouldn't. Due to the A.I., this makes the game fair rather than unbalancing it.
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    • The PC-controlled hero knight puts importance in his honor and chivalry. The NPC villain does not hesitate to fight dirty.
  • Inverted:
    • The computer cheats to give the player an advantage.
    • The computer starts using abilities or mechanics that were previously restricted to the player. By definition, this isn't cheating, but it does ramp up the difficulty significantly because the player no longer has that advantage over the AI.
    • The player starts off with vast advantages to compensate for the computer's sheer speed and coordination. In-character, it is a Robot War where humanity must use their superior resources against small but very dangerous upstarts.
  • Subverted: The CPU-controlled characters are kicking your ass... but it turns out you have the difficulty on Hard. You turn the difficulty down a notch and you start to stand more of a chance.
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  • Double Subverted: ... here comes the Easy-Mode Mockery!
  • Parodied:
    • The game flat-out tells you that it will cheat to win.
    • When you start a match, the CPU opens up a cheat menu during gameplay and types in "GOD" or "WIN"
  • Zig-zagged: The CPU cheats to varying degrees (including none) within the same game to adjust for the player's skills in order to keep him engaged. If the player is breezing through, it'll turn up the difficulty; if the player can barely get out of the starting spot, it'll ease up.
  • Averted: The CPU plays fair and is on an equal footing with the human characters.
  • Enforced: (During development) "Hey, this section is a little too easy. I think I'll turn up the accuracy of the enemy snipers juuuuuust a tad..."
  • Lampshaded: During the characters' single-player loss dialogue, they point out that they shouldn't have lost; not because of pride, but because the enemy was breaking the rules of the fight!
  • Invoked: The player hacks the game to give the CPU advantages as a Self-Imposed Challenge.
  • Exploited:
  • Defied: The player character forces the CPU character to fight fair.
  • Discussed: In a movie about video game characters as Animated Actors, the player character's avatar asks how the Big Bad learned to pull off some super-powerful techniques.
  • Conversed: "Did you ever play Troper Wars? Is there a glitch or something that lets only the CPU throw projectiles?"
  • Implied: In the game, your goal is not to beat the equal, CPU characters but different enemies who don't play by the same rules. During one level, your "enemy" challenges you but is interrupted by said force. Even once all his gathering methods are cut off, he manages to supply you with items despite having no "fair" way to get them.
  • Played For Laughs: The AI isn't just cheating, it's rubbing it in your face. In fact, when you lose it still counts it as a victory, as your enemy cheated and thus that battle didn't count, but if you win the character will accuse you of cheating, while your character will point out even if that were true, they were cheating as well. Said character will desperately try to justify their cheating it while "victory" flashes across your screen.
  • Played For Drama: There is in story justification for the cheating. Every time your character battles it gets harder and harder due to all the "bonuses" the enemies are getting that you can't even hope for. If the player only manages to win barely then the character will get even more stressed over how hard it's getting to get past that barrier.
  • Played for Horror: The game emphasizes that the player characters are in serious danger because the NPCs are willing to fight dirty to kill them.

Now, return to The Computer Is a Cheating Bastard before it destroys you!