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Overview

Rubber band AI refers to an artificial intelligence found in titles such as racing or sports titles that is designed to prevent players from getting too far ahead of computer-controlled opponents. When done well, such AIs can maintain a consistent level of challenge from the beginning of an event to the end. However, when done poorly, it becomes evident that the game is bending its own rules in the computer's favor, either by temporarily enhancing the CPU's abilities, inhibiting the abilities of the player's character(s), or both. As an example of how rubber band AI is designed, a complete description of the algorithm for such found in the Nintendo GameCube game Mario Kart: Double Dash!! is available in US Patent 7278913.

Although commonly associated with racing games such as the aforementioned Mario Kart series, similar AIs are also featured in both sports simulations and arcade titles. For example, in a football game, the opponent's quarterback may suddenly become un-blitzable when that team is behind by sixteen or more points. NBA Jam's rubber banding is notorious; if the AI team is behind, they will shove the player mercilessly and drive past them for unblockable dunks, while the player's own dunks and shots suddenly become noticeably less accurate.

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