The endgame, that is. Not the closing “reward video”, but that moment when you reach the final step, which all too often is “the Foozle fight”.

Of course, not all games come to that conclusion. Unfortunately, most of those that didn’t were back in the 8-bit era. The ones that spring readily to mind are Ultima III, Ultima IV, Might & Magic I and The Magic Candle.

In U3, Exodus was dispatched by inserting four cards into slots (in the right order). U4, as we all know, sent us to read the Codex. M&M had us searching for the Inner Sanctum, where we learned we weren’t on a world, but inside a spaceship. And in MC, we performed a ritual to renew the candle that imprisoned a demon.

Naturally, there was a lot of fighting to get to those moments, but the building up of the party (they being all party-based) was not for “the big battle”. I wonder how any of those endings would go over today.

Would players be disappointed, however difficult the combats were, to learn there was no Foozle to dispatch in a blaze of glory? That all the sweating and effort was just to read a book or repair a candle?

I’m not thinking of us here, primarily, but of the – let’s call it – RPG player community at large. The gamers whose experience doesn’t reach back that far, and who have been playing mainly games that feature “frag Foozle”.

Or perhaps it doesn’t matter. Perhaps the “Foozle fight” has become such a cliche, no one cares much anymore, and it’s the journey to the finale that really counts. If so, that would be a sad comment on the state of RPGs today. Do we really want to keep killing off Ancient Evil in its various disguises?

Something really different would make for a nice change of pace, and maybe even shake things up a bit, get some creative juices flowing. Then again, with the stultifying effect the bottom line has these days, I have my doubts.