ByNicholas Montegriffo, writer at
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Nicholas Montegriffo

We live in exciting times for artificial intelligence. Computer scientists have been developing more and more complex AI systems, which of course we're using to play games against. But most bots, particularly in older games, can never quite measure up to the level of human players, and developers often give the AI all kinds of hidden advantages.

Before advanced AI makes video game enemies impossible to defeat without deliberately dumbing them down, let's celebrate the times when we really stuck it to those idiots.

Dark Link Eats Sword in Zelda II: The Adventure of Link

Dumb Link in Zelda 2:The Adventure of Link [Nintendo]
Dumb Link in Zelda 2:The Adventure of Link [Nintendo]

In Zelda 2 you come across the old trick of fighting an evil double in the form of Dark Link, a shadow version of the player who knows all your moves and thinks he can match you in swordplay. If you try and fight him conventionally, you'll meet your match. Fortunately for the player, Dark Link has all of your moves but none of your brains. If you just duck into the left corner and spam your sword attacks, Dark Link will repeatedly walk into your sword and eat a faceful of steel over and over again, just like that all you can eat shrimp at the Chinese buffet.

Golden Axe's Evil Army Of Lemmings

Golden Axe is a game beloved by many gamers of a certain age, mainly because it came bundled with the Sega Genesis. It's an awesome game, and you can still play it right now. As much fun as it was though, the enemy AI was somewhat primitive. Death Adder's soldiers homed in on your position with a berserk single-mindedness, intervening terrain be damned. This meant that most enemies could be easily tricked into hurling themselves into bottomless pits. No doubt the Evil Overlord, in his final dying moments, wished he had invested more in enforcing workplace health and safety regulations for his dungeons.

Make Enemy Pokémon Dance

Twitch Plays Pokémon Red' [Nintendo]
Twitch Plays Pokémon Red' [Nintendo]

In the early (1st Gen) games, the computer would always primarily use an attack Super effective against you. This leads to odd behavior when an enemy has Agility and you're using Poison-type. Agility is a Psychic-type attack (though it has no offensive use and just raises the user's Speed), so the computer would spam Agility. As the computer has infinite PP, they will use Agility over and over, their Pokémon just spasming and speeding itself up as it gets thrashed. The above image, from 'Twitch Plays Pokémon Red', shows the poisonous Venomoth beat Lance's Dragonite because the silly dragon went insane with agile dancing and wriggling.

Even in , after all the time that has passed for AI to improve, the computer doesn't realize that Minior, with its rocky shell, is immune to non-certain status conditions. Even high-level computer players will throw non-damaging status moves like Thunder Wave, Hypnosis, or Toxic repeatedly on Minior to no effect.

Mortal Kombat 3's Hypnotic Shuffle

Just one trick in Mortal Kombat 3 [Midway]
Just one trick in Mortal Kombat 3 [Midway]

From dancing Pokémon, to dancing ninjas, the third generation of games, Mortal Kombat 3, UMK3 and Mortal Kombat Trilogy all have the 'hypnotic walk' AI glitch. If you walk a few steps alternately backwards and forwards when you're about jumping distance from the AI, the AI copies your pattern, mirroring you as long as you keep shuffling. This allows players to beat the notoriously unfair high difficulty mode as you could land a hit then do the hypno shuffle until the timer ran out, for an unspectacular but easy win.

Perfect Dark AI Can't Use Remote Mines

N64 shooter Perfect Dark was a fun game with friends, but its enemy AI left a lot to be desired. One hilarious gap in their tactics was their inability to use remote mines properly; the AI will place the mines but never detonate them. As you can see in Nick Garret's video, this makes stupid sitting ducks out of even the highest level bots.

Mega Man's Elec Man Is Fast, Furious, And Very Very Dumb

Similar to Zelda 2's Dark Link, Elec Man in the first Mega Man is usually a hardcore boss, who can kill you in just three hits with a very hard to dodge attack. But if you get him juuuust right, you make him your helpless plaything with just well-timed regular attacks, as YouTuber Roahm Mythril demonstrates above.

Age of Empires 2 Has A Problem With Gates

Enemy at the gates in Age of Empires 2 [Microsoft]
Enemy at the gates in Age of Empires 2 [Microsoft]

This RTS classic often provided a thrilling tactical battle of wits against the AI...except when gates were involved. You see, you could build walls around your cities and the enemy would besiege them, attacking the walls. Except they would never attack the gates you could build in the walls. Ergo, if you built your entire wall out of gates, the enemy would cluster outside your gates and never attack, even though, theoretically, a gate is the weakest part of the wall.

Hilariously, this bizarre gate-blindness could be ultimately exploited by building a gate in front of the main gate of the enemy city, preventing their army from ever leaving home base. Even in recent re-releases, AI gate stupidity still comes up, although perhaps it's just become part of the game's legacy.

Assassin's Creed Guards Are Their Own Worst Enemy

The guards in Assassin's Creed must have learned swordplay at the same academy that taught marksmanship to Imperial Stormtroopers. They often swing clumsily and wildly, and cluster around the player in groups, with predictably deadly results, as demonstrated above by Vixtro.

Speedrunners often rely on AI exploits to perfect their record. Check out some amazing facts about these dedicated players:

What's Your Favorite Way To Troll Those Artificial Idiots?


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