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The Computer Is A Cheating Bastard / Mario Kart

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  • In Super Mario Kart, the AI opponents don't just have Rubber-Band A.I., but have infinite stores of super-special weapons and items that in several cases the player is never able to use — namely, the poisoned mushrooms, Yoshi eggs, and meandering fireballs. Then there's the Mario brothers, who can activate Stars at will, making them nigh-impossible to beat if they're in the lead. For the items the player can launch, the AI opponent also has the ability to dodge by jumping the kart its own height above the track (basically an infinite supply of jump feathers).
    They also outright clip through course obstacles like Thwomps and pipes while you need a Star to smash through the same things yourself. The only thing they can bump into that slows them down are the walls, and that's if you push them hard enough into a wall.
    Furthermore, the Grand Prix mode will select an order of skill for each of the computer-controlled players, based on your own character selection. If one of the Mario Bros. are picked as the "champion" racer (which happens if you choose Bowser or Koopa Troopa), you can expect perfect racing lines and cornering coupled with infinite and arbitrary use of the Super Star, allowing them to go at increased speed with no slowing down, plus invincibility. Having one of the plumbers trigger this on the final stretch, powering either past or through the player and being unstoppable regardless of what's fired at them (or even more annoyingly, just as that red shell is about to knock them out of first place) means that it's often easier just to start a new game and hope you don't get one of them as the top racer again.
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  • In Mario Kart: Super Circuit, whichever AI racer has the most cup points at the time will get their special powerups more often. Luigi and Bowser will always start with "champion" level skills, but if you attack them and cause them to lose to other AI racers, the new points leader among AI will take up the "champion" mantle instead. If Yoshi or Mario get this points lead, they'll start to spam consecutive Super Stars from nowhere and finish races 5 seconds ahead of the rest of the pack. Conversely, since poor AI Wario always starts in the back of the pack, he's rarely seen using items at all and is doomed to finish last every race.
  • Another ability the computers have in Super Mario Kart and Mario Kart 64 is the ability to instantly recover from items as long as they aren't on screen when the item hits. The best items will simply stop computers for a moment if you can't see them, while the same items used on you will make you fly through the air.
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  • Choco Mountain. The final part of the track involves a few item boxes, a 90 degree turn, and then three "hills". You better be lucky and get a mushroom from those boxes, else once you jump from the first hill, you'll collide with the second and third ones, while the CPUs that are right behind you (thank you rubber-band AI) magically have enough speed to jump both. Not getting a mushroom in those boxes indeed makes the difference between being first or fifth in this race.
  • Apparently, the computer player chosen to be the first-placer in Mario Kart DS always has a maxed-out speed stat, regardless of what the kart they're driving should have. This makes characters that drive karts with already high acceleration, such as Dry Bones, nearly impossible to beat. This may be because the designated top 3 are given boosts in top speed with the first placer being given the biggest boost. If it happens to be a kart with high acceleration, your only chance of winning is to snake, simply put.
    • CPUs in Mario Kart DS will also move back into place if another kart knocks them away in midair.
  • The AI in Mario Kart: Double Dash!! seems to entirely ignore the weight system and kart stats — heavy karts (the only ones available to large characters such as Bowser) all have crappy acceleration but high top speeds. Go ahead, knock Bowser off the track. Invariably, he'll be right on your ass in no time flat — despite the nice long stall that getting put back on the track gives you, and the fact that his crappy acceleration should leave him far behind a kart that's already running at top speed with no slowdowns. In fact, most of the karts in Double Dash!! can reach ridiculous speeds trying to keep up with a human player in first, which can give a second human player further down the pack an extremely hard time when it comes to clawing their way back to the front.
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  • Petey Piranha is a particularly big offender and is often a thorn in the side in two-player GP races at 150cc due to his ludicrous bursts of speed and acceleration, not to mention his tendency to pummel you with five items a minute. The same thing applies to Baby Luigi in Wii.
  • In Mario Kart 64, computer players just use items at random rather than actually using the item boxes. This actually works out well for the player (despite lack of realism, since they'll never use certain items), since the distribution is fair. Starting with Mario Kart DS, they actually use the item boxes, which means the last-place players are constantly getting the good stuff. So this is actually an instance where having the AI follow the rules actually makes the game seem less fair (though technically it's more fair).
  • Moreover, the computers' finishing positions aren't actually determined by the order in which they cross the finish line; rather, it's what position they're currently in when the last human player finishes and ends the race. For example, you finish in 1st place and Mario is in 3rd, but he falls back to 5th place before the results screen shows up, it will still show him finished in 3rd due to being in that spot when the player finished. Super Mario Kart and Mario Kart: Super Circuit try to avoid this by leaving a short amount of time to computers before they reach the finish line, but end up doing this after some seconds.
  • Just let the AI get behind you with Star Power. It's like you're being tracked by a homing missile.
  • Of course, all the items are, in general, aimed at you, with only the occasional shot toward other AI and accidental hits if they drive the same racing line. It gets ridiculous when one sees the second place racer throw a red shell (which only homes if thrown forward in most installments, and even then, only after someone passes it) backwards towards a player-controlled third place kart when the first place kart could be easily overtaken if only the shell were thrown forward instead. More a case of 'cheating' for the AI opponents who get to avoid all attacks (their advantage being that they get to go whole races without a single item aimed at them, save for Lightning, Bullet Bills and Spiny Shells, which a character has no say in controlling). The AI racers that target you rather than their competitors ahead, however, are a case of Spiteful A.I..
    • It couldn't be more obvious than when you play a team race in Mario Kart Wii with AI opponents, and your computer-controlled teammates start aiming shells and bananas at you.
      • Worse is when you're coming in first and get hit by multiple red shells within seconds. Red shells are supposed to target the racer immediately in the place ahead of you, so the only way to get hit by two or more is if they are passing one another then throwing the red shell...
      • Mike Matei noted, in his review of Wii, how overboard the CPU goes with item-spamming, from ludicrous item combos that will most likely drive you into a hazard, to the absolutely rampant Blue Shell abuse. As he describes it:
      I would say that getting hit by a Blue Shell more than once in a race should be a rare occurrence in a Mario Kart game; in Mario Kart Wii, you can get hit by the Blue Shell multiple times in a single lap.
      • Wii in general is quite absurd when it comes to outright cheating AI. You can be a million miles ahead of everyone and they'll still catch up to you while pelting you with items, crushing your chances of winning in seconds. Of particular note is the online tournament where players had to race the Kongs while they had an infinite supply of bananas; trying to get ahead of them would result in them rocketing up to the player to prevent them from winning, which goes beyond general rubberbanding and is probably the crowning example of this trope in the series.
    • This carries over to Mario Kart 8 and its team battle mode. At best, it'll simply be a rule of thumb to stay away from everyone until you've confirmed that the racer you're about to pass is an enemy and you should attack them, lest you run into a teammate who suddenly decides it's a good idea to throw their boomerang. At worst, you can get all three of your balloons destroyed nearly immediately just because you wound up in a populated area and you trusted your AI partners not to start throwing their items at random.
      • The irony of this is that it somehow makes the AI closer to a human player rather than putting them above them. You're given very little chance to see who's on your team during battles, and it can be difficult to tell what color another racer's balloons are from a distance (and the balloons are the only differentiation between teams). Chances are that you'll accidentally attack your teammates as often as they'll attack you.
  • On the bright side, if you and a computer-controlled player have the same amount of points, it will be in favor of you. So if you and Donkey Kong are tied for 1st place with 32 points each, you'll be in first place.
  • In Mario Kart Wii, the AI racers almost always skip the item roulette, allowing them to use their item while you're still waiting for yours. You can do the same by pressing the "use item" button during the roulette, but it still takes time to perform (it's not perfect or immediate, whereas the opponents will be ready to go once they hit an item box).
  • Mario Kart 7 is one of the biggest offenders (which is saying a lot, honestly). There was an exploit (since patched) discovered in Maka Wuhu that allowed you to skip an entire section of the track. If you pulled it off, the CPU pack would be no less than 5 seconds behind you when you were ferried onto the upper section of the course, rendering the entire exploit moot in single-player mode.
  • The Blooper item in later games is a notable exception. For human players, it's little more than a nuisance, but it will cause the AI to start randomly swerving side-to-side like drunk drivers, slowing them down significantly. Justified, though, in that an AI that simply follows a course would obviously be unhindered by an item that blocks your screen without flaws programmed in.
  • Red Shells normally target the next racer ahead of the user, but they're programmed to skip racers who are very close to the racer unless they're in 1st place. When the player is in 1st, the AI is programmed to have the 2nd and 3rd place CPU racers hang close together to exploit this behavior so that any Red Shells fired by the 3rd place CPU target the player instead of the 2nd place CPU.
  • This blog post proves what we've been suspecting for a long time, CPU racers can outright clip through hazards when they're far enough from the player. Note also the perfect driving lines.
  • In Mario Kart 64, there is a glitch in Royal Raceway where sometimes, the computers somehow skip half the race, getting in first ahead of you. See for yourself.
  • Mario Kart 8 has another interesting AI cheat, in that regardless of where they are in the track, they can drop down items anywhere. The player may not notice it, but there's entirely odd chances of them placing banana peels or tossing projectiles out to locations they've not reached yet or already passed, just to torment the player.
  • Following the 2.0 update, the CPUs of Mario Kart Tour start blatantly cheating beyond anything the series has ever seen. They time their moves on the player in a way that would only make sense if they were working together; their items seem to counter player items exactly, as well as launching items the instant the player has none; their speed randomly increases even without items, Mini-Turbos, slipstreams, or boost pads; and they will control their steering to a degree no human player can without losing any speed. The CPUs also immediately begin going the same speed that they were going before after spinning out from hitting an item, whereas the player still has to build their speed back up from so much as hitting a banana.
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