Some time back, I came across an interesting remark about the usual “Foozle fight” at the end of a game. Unfortunately, I can’t recall whether it was a comment here, or somewhere else on the ‘net. Whichever, it had to do with Foozle never showing up until you face him in his lair at the finale.

Here we are, spending the entire game building ourselves up, foiling his plans, yet the “Main Evil Dude” doesn’t make an appearance. He (or she, or it) exists only to be chopped down at the end, like any mini-boss. Maybe that’s one reason why these combats often seem anti-climactic: you can hardly tell Foozle apart from any other enemy.

On consideration, it’s astonishing that the person or being behind all the trouble is so invisible. How can it be anything else but a letdown, when Foozle is really no more than a name and a set of stats, waiting for us to put him out his misery? Perhaps we’re doing him a favor, as he appears to have no other function.

Wouldn’t it spice things up a bit, make Foozle a little more real, if he took an active part in things? I don’t mean those silly cutscenes that show us things we shouldn’t know (Neverwinter 2 is especially bad in this regard). I mean getting off his butt and out of his lair to participate.

This puts me in mind of the Fu Manchu novels. Yes, they’re terribly racist in some aspects, although fun nonetheless. Not to mention, I tend to root for the good (bad?) Doctor (it’s this weakness I have for brainy men ;). Ahem.

However, the point is, Fu Manchu doesn’t simply cower in his lair, waiting for the inevitable. He does things. He interacts with the good guys (Nayland Smith & Co.). He chases them. They chase him. They talk to him. Sometimes, they even bargain with him. They might even capture him for a short time (usually, very short). And, of course, he captures them, also usually for a very short time.

There is no question that Fu Manchu makes his presence felt throughout the story. He is much more than just a faceless bogeyman to be tracked down at the end. He is a believable villain.

We’ve talked a lot in the past how RPGs are still very much in a rut, and I think this may be one of the deepest ones. It’s time for developers to give more thought to Foozle, instead of just sticking him in at the end. Then, perhaps, he’d become visible, and his ultimate destruction, more statisfying.