As we all know, almost all RPGs conclude with the “big showdown”, the Foozle Fight. Yet the work from which much content has been drawn, from (A)D&D on, didn’t have one.

I refer, naturally, to Lord Of The Rings (the book). The Foozle Fight never happened, because Sauron, even without the One Ring, was simply too powerful. We don’t see something like this in games very often.

The “soul object” ploy (the One Ring is a variant of this) does show up now and then. Usually, that means finding the item where Foozle has stored his essence/spirit/whatever and destroying it. Then you can get on with the job of destroying him.

We find it in Ultima, where you go back in time and destroy Mondain’s magic gem, so you can kill him in the present. Also in Dark Heart Of Uukrul, in which you must find the correct heart vessel before fighting Uukrul.

Some RPGs use the protection/restorative variant. You can’t harm Foozle until something else is destroyed that either makes Fooz invulnerable or heals injury faster than you can dish it out. Neverwinter Nights, for instance, featured the “protection” method.

And there have been a few games where no “big showdown” happens. In Ultima III: Exodus, you dispose of Exodus merely by placing four cards in slots in the correct order. The Summoning could end with you replacing Foozle, no fight required. Magic Candle was all about keeping a demon imprisoned; and (you knew I was going to mention this) Ultima IV‘s objective was reading the Codex Of Wisdom.

The lesser-known Anvil Of Dawn perhaps comes closest to LOTR (at least to my knowledge). Here you do meet Foozle, but fighting really isn’t an option. Your best move is to throw an object (a box, as I recall) into the abyss, and then jump after it when it lands on a ledge, taking both the box and yourself to destruction. A kind of combination of Frodo and Gollum.

Which makes me wonder: is there a feeling of disappointment, of being cheated, when the game doesn’t have that “big showdown”? After all, you spend 99% of the game leveling up and becoming more powerful as preparation for that ultimate conflict…and then it doesn’t occur.

Or do we need more games where Foozle is more like Sauron, and requires something other than brute force and magic to defeat?