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Foregone Victory
"How many players are with us today?"
Player chooses "1"
"Well then, Congratulations on winning this game."
You Don't Know Jack 4: The Ride (A (usually) multiplayer trivia game)

We've all been in the situation where, try as we might, a certain part of a game seemsor is — impossible to get past, or supposed to be so.

Then, you have those points where you might as well just put down the controller, because you're going to win anyway. These points are the Foregone Victory. While this usually applies to a Zero-Effort Boss, the Foregone Victory can also apply to a particular level, puzzle, or what have you.

Foregone Victory can also be applied to nearly every game in existence because the stories are designed to be based on the player beating the Big Bad and resolving whatever issues that were present; even if you get a Game Over, you can just keep trying over and over again until you win, Because Destiny Says So (unless the game has specific endings that play if you do fail and show you the fruits of your failure). For simplicity's sake, examples of Foregone Victory are for specific moments in a game where you cannot lose, even if you tried to.

When a boss battle is a Foregone Victory, it is often a Anticlimax Boss — but not always; essentially, the Foregone Victory is to the Hopeless Boss Fight as the Anticlimax Boss is to That One Boss.

Examples:

  • In Pokémon Ruby and Sapphire/Emerald, you cannot lose against Zigzagoon/Poochyenna when saving the life of the Professor at the beginning. Even if you just use the Buff/Debuff move against them over and over... it will flee, like a scared Latios.
    • Also played with in Pokémon Black and White: you can actually faint Reshiram/Zekrom, but the dragons just get back up and fight you again until you catch them. And you don't get any XP.
      • Considering the one in your version is needed for storyline reasons, they need to do this.
  • The final battle in Pokémon Mystery Dungeon: Gates to Infinity is of this nature. Being defeated in the first phase of the fight results in you being revived whether you have Reviver Seeds on hand or not. In the second phase, while defeat results in you being sent back to a rest point, you can return to the boss immediately (As opposed to having to repeat a portion of the prior dungeon like with every other boss), and it'll retain all of the damage you cause to it, meaning that victory is simply a matter of persistence.
  • In Final Fantasy V, when you fight Exdeath as Galuf alone, you can't lose — even if your HP goes to 0, which it's pretty much guaranteed to do, nothing happens. Galuf dies after the battle either way, though. This is one of those rare examples where the battle is a Foregone Victory but is nowhere near being an Anticlimax Boss.
    • In Final Fantasy VII, you can't lose the final one-on-one duel between Cloud and Sephiroth. Either you hit him with Omnislash, or you automatically counter one of his attacks with a standard strike, which is enough to finish the battle.
      • During the flashback scene from five years ago, Cloud is at level 1 and dies easily, but he is partnered up with Sephiroth, who is CPU-controlled, doesn't take any damage, and uses very powerful spells. Any battle that you get drawn into during this flashback is un-losable.
      • The second iteration of Jenova uses only water attacks. Shortly before her dungeon, you obtain an accessory that absorbs water. For best results, equip on Cloud.
    • In Final Fantasy X, the final boss is fought with the party permanently given Reraise, to cause them to immediately recover if defeated.
      • It doesn't help the poor Big Bad's case that he heals himself for exactly 9999 HP after anything happens in the battle and he lacks immunity to the zombie status. STOP HURTING YOURSELF! STOP HURTING YOURSELF!
      • This also applies to the string of battles against all your Aeons before him. Seeing as there's no chance to save after the difficult fight with Braska's Final Aeon, this is probably the programmers taking mercy on you. Controllers would be broken if people could lose at the end of a Sequential Boss fight that long.
      • The first couple of bosses in Final Fantasy X are also Foregone Victories, as they can only hit you with attacks that deal a percentage of your current HP. You'll only lose if you have your characters hit themselves. All part of easing the player into the game.
    • The first fight in Final Fantasy Tactics has you controlling the main character and the computer controlling the rest of your party. Two of them are insanely powerful so they will win the fight without your help (or even if you try to kill them). However, it is possible to lose this fight on purpose. If you happen to start with Weapon Break (and are lucky enough that it actually hits) you can cripple those powerful characters and give the enemies a chance to defeat you.
  • All of Wario Land 3 except the final boss is impossible to die, all damage simply knocks you back to a different part of the level. It doesn't matter how often Wario gets hit, he just bounces back.
    • It's the same idea with Wario Land 2, but he does lose coins when he gets hit in that game, so that probably counts as "losing" (or rather, winning less), because Wario is greedy by nature. It's impossible to get a Game Over in this game, however.
  • In Castlevania: Symphony of the Night, the Richter vs. Dracula fight is a Foregone Victory (the easily-obtained Holy Water item crash kills him in 3 uses, and even if you suck badly enough to get your lifebar completely depleted, Maria runs in and casts a spell on you that makes you invincible for the rest of the battle), but the specifics do affect the stats of the main character Alucard. In general, the quicker the battle is beaten and the less damage Richter takes, the better the initial stats for Alucard.
  • Most LucasArts adventure games apply this trope all the way through. Full Throttle even says in the manual that it's "lame to get beaten and thrown into a dumpster every time you made a mistake".
    • Made almost too evident in the "boss fight" at the end of Escape from Monkey Island, where both the hero and the villain regenerate health far too quickly for either one to be able to win. Not unwinnable, though. There's a trick to it. As always.
  • In Mother 1, the future PC Teddy is fought as a boss. However, he has such low Offense and such high Defense in this fight that neither of you can do much damage to each other at all. After three futile turns, he joins your party. The only character that may act in this fight is Ninten, and he may only choose Fight. The only way to lose this fight is to be so weak upon entering that Teddy cherry taps you to death.
  • In Earthbound, the battle against Starman Jr. is normally unlosable. Buzz Buzz always goes first, and casts a strong PSI shield spell on the first round and after every time Starman Jr. attacks. Since Starman Jr. only has PSI attacks, the party can never be harmed. The only possible way to lose involves leveling up to around four times the normal level for that area until Ness learns a physical shield spell, which can overwrite the PSI shield and allow Ness to be hurt.
    • And of course, when your party's total Offense score is greater than that the map enemies by a certain amount, they'll automatically win any battle they get into. Literally.
  • Krystal's "battle" against the galleon right after the first Cutscene in Star Fox Adventures is unlosable; any hits you take simply result in screeching by the CloudRunner. No health is lost. (There's no health meter until you're actually on board, as a matter of fact.) You do, however, have to attack.
  • During the Inevitable Tournament in Xenogears, one of your opponents is Dan, a young boy who blames you for the destruction of the Doomed Hometown. Compared to other fighters in the tournament, he's effortless to beat. If you're feeling charitable, however, you can also simply defend and heal, and he'll eventually forfeit the match and give you an unique, surprisingly strong piece of armor.
    • There's also the sequence where you rescue Rico from his execution. The arena monster is a Rankar Dragon, just like the one you fought and defeated near the beginning of the game. The arena dragon has pretty much the same stats as the first one, and therefore will probably die in one hit from your considerably-upgraded-since-then Weltall.
  • At the end of Paper Mario, you fight Kammy Koopa as Twink, with Peach as a helper. The battle is completely scripted. Once you win, Mario gets the ability he needs to be able to win the final boss fight.
    • It's impossible to lose the first fight in Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door against Lord Crump, as you can only attack (doing so a maximum of 5 times defeats Lord Crump, while Lord Crump has 5 HP, an attack power of 1 and Mario has 10 HP) or Defend (which makes Lord Crump do no damage at all). This particular fight has no luck element to it at all. It isn't even possible to lose if you whittle down your HP before the match by jumping into the water, as your HP will automatically be reset to 5 when you enter the battle.
    • Thousand-Year Door also contains a badge which, when equipped, will allow you to auto-win battles if you successfully first-strike sufficiently weak enemies. You don't get loot drops or experience points when this happens, but if the badge takes effect at all, your gains on all counts would be so paltry it's hardly worth the trouble.
  • The first battle in Mario & Luigi: Superstar Saga is a classic Mario vs. Bowser showdown. All Mario can do is attack for a minimum of 1 damage, and Bowser does a maximum of 1 damage with his fire breath. Both Mario and Bowser have 10 HP, and Mario goes first. It is mathematically impossible to lose this battle.
  • The final battle against Nyx in Persona 3 is completely scripted; barring one or two swipes at the boss that makes no difference, you have a predetermined response to the boss' attacks round by round and win automatically on your fourth action when you're forced to activate the Combined Energy Attack.
    • It's far from an Anti-Climax Boss though: the use of the battle system adds to the narrative in a very effective way. (See also Crowning Moment Of Awesome)
    • From the FES edition's The Answer, the first "boss", Metis, is impossible to lose to. She stops attacking you after your HP is down to a certain amount.
  • The final battle against Izanami in Persona 4 is similar. After you beat the boss twice, you find out The Battle Didn't Count either time, and then have a scripted second rematch always ending with a similar Combined Energy Attack. The Main Character doesn't die this time, though.
  • The Ember trial in Neverwinter Nights 2 sounds like a tough test in which you literally have to fight for your life with your social skills. But whether or not you win the trial (you get a Bragging Rights Reward if you do), the end result is the same: a Duel Boss fight.
  • The duel between Blue and Rouge in SaGa Frontier. It isn't unlosable, but if you do lose, you get to play the remainder of the quest as the boss instead because the actual purpose of the duel is to unite Blue and Rouge into one person. Said person has the winner's name and body, but the same personality regardless.
  • In the Arena on Kirby Super Star, one of the fights is about as close as you can get to a Foregone Victory while still having the potential to lose. Waddle Dee can't move and has no attacks — but you could still lose if you tried hard enough, because he does still deal Collision Damage.
    • Mind enemies also take collision damage, so just running into him will still be a victory unless you are weak from a previous fight.
    • In Kirby's Epic Yarn, all of the boss battles are effectively Foregone Victories, as Kirby cannot die in the game. However, the challenge comes in collecting—and retaining—enough beads to get higher rewards when the battle ends. Getting hit causes Kirby to drop half of his beads, and if not picked up, they disappear after a few seconds.
  • In Legacy of Kain: Soul Reaver 2, your character Raziel travels back in time to fight the final bosses. This results in a Stable Time Loop, making Raziel invincible, as the bosses have to die in order for Raziel to have begun existence in the first place. Long story short, it is literally impossible to lose the final boss fights.
    • Which is good, because they're far and away better fighters than anything you've faced throughout the rest of the game, and would easily kill you if you weren't invulnerable.
  • The "bad" ending of Breath of Fire IV involves Fou-Lu absorbing Ryu and turning into an invincible dragon before fighting the rest of your party. The player at this point actually controls the invincible dragon in a fight against the party. The dragon really is invincible—your only choice is to completely annihilate your former friends before watching the rest of the bad ending play out.
    • Likewise, in the bad ending of the main path in Vanguard Bandits, Falkner hypnotizes Bastion into serving him by using a special property of his Zulwarn ATAC. In the following fight, Bastion's party makes up the enemy ranks, but they are completely unable to defeat Falkner and rarely attack Bastion. The fight is almost impossible to lose, though if you're not careful you might get killed by one of your higher-level allies; even if the player chooses not to act, Falkner will completely wipe out the opposition.
  • A Famicom-only entry in the Adventures of Lolo series entitled Eggerland: Revival of the Labyrinth ends with a fake RPG battle sequence. No matter what options you pick on any given turn, it always invariably comes down to the king beating you down to 1 HP, then incessantly attacking and missing until you stumble across the trick to concluding the battle, which is to tickle him three turns in a row.
  • The final boss in Albion seems unbeatable at first, knocking out one of your characters every turn, but the fight is won after the characters figure out themselves how to destroy the boss instantly in the fourth or so turn.
  • Homeworld can vary between this and Un Winnable depending on how good the player is at the game. If the player successfully minimizes casualties and maximizes the number of ships they salvage, it is possible to have a fleet which greatly outguns any enemy fleet by the end of the game. Conversely, if the player isn't very good, their fleet is likely to be greatly outgunned itself.
    • When Dynamic Difficulty appears in Homeworld it tends to bite you in the ass to educate you. In an early stage, you can build many cheap, weak fighters or a few more durable but more expensive corvettes. If you trigger the stage's enemy encounter with a large fleet, the enemy will also be more numerous - except they will only employ the more durable craft, often to painful effect.
    • Homeworld 2's dynamic difficulty, on the other hand, varies in the opposite direction. It bases the difficulty on the ships you finish the previous mission with, meaning that scrapping everything but your factory ships just before winning is actually beneficial. Balcora Gate is particularly difficult if the player goes in with a large fleet. You are required to defend three Bentusi power modules on the eponymous gate. If you started the mission with a full fleet the attackers are fully capable of destroying them before your capital ships can get into range.
  • In Bard's Tale II (of the original game series), if you'd bothered to reforge the Destiny Wand before going after the game's Big Bad, the Archmage who did it would have been transformed into a Destiny Knight. A relevant line from a poem in the manual: "Of wounds this man will never die..." ...which is Exactly What It Says on the Tin. Nothing the Big Bad and his personal army use will drop that character.
    • And there's nothing stopping you from making multiple Destiny Knights first, just to rub it in. (Which could actually be pretty valuable if you're exporting characters into the sequel.)
  • The Warmup Boss battle against the Mantis Ant under Potos Village in Secret of Mana is impossible to lose. Every time you get knocked out, the mysterious man from the bar brings you back to full health.
  • You cannot lose at LEGO Star Wars. Ever. You just get re-assembled down a few thousand studs. If you have no studs... you lose nothing and still get re-assembled.
  • Unlike its predecessor, the whole of Pikmin 2's single-player mode is a foregone victory. Your skill only determines how fast and how much of a victory it is. You can take as long as you want to gather 10000 pokos, and in the rare case that you lose all your pikmin you'll get a free one from each onion the next day. Even then, it's possible to get so many pikmin throughout the game that you'll almost never be in a position to lose them all.
  • It is impossible to die against Mysterio in Spider-Man 2. He does not attack or move, and one punch will defeat him.
  • Bob the Killer Goldfish from Earthworm Jim. Doing anything kills him.
  • In Fallout 3 the player is approached by an inexperienced would-be raider who's a little too clean cut, who attempts to mug the player for small change. Whether you pay him off, blow him off, or threaten him, he cowers like fire is raining down on him. Sometimes he makes a half-hearted attempt to run, whether he's actually attacked or not, leaving one to wonder whether it's more merciful to leave him alive or dead. This is one of a few shout outs to the Mad Max series of movies — if your perception is high enough, you can call him out on the fact that the sawn-off shotgun he is using to threaten you is unloaded.
    • The Final Battle is also a foregone victory, since you have on your side a giant indestructible nuke-throwing Humongous Mecha. All the player has to do is stay alive until you reach the Memorial, which you can all but guarantee by hanging back and letting the robot do the work.
  • In Prince of Persia: The Two Thrones, the final boss fight with The Dark Prince combines a Hopeless Boss Fight and a Foregone Victory. After you defeat the Vizier you think all is well, but then the Dark Prince tries to take over your body. It turns out that he had his own intentions for defeating the Vizier: as a sand monster, the Dark Prince wanted the Vizier dead so he could rule the Persian empire instead. Then you have to chase the Dark Prince through a platforming obstacle course that's all in you mind, what the game calls the Mental Realm. The thing is, though, should you slip and fall, since you don't have the Sands of Time anymore, you simply respawn from the top of wherever you fell with no penalty. Apparently your mind is pretty psychedelic too.
  • In Jade Empire, your fight against Death's Hand when controlling Sun Kim is this. Do try to win, though, because there's more reward, including binding Death's Hand as your follower, if you so choose.
  • When you finally confront General Scales in Star Fox Adventures, the fight ends immediately and he gets Hijacked by Ganon the moment either of you manage to land a hit.
  • In Super Mario RPG, you may actually feel sorry for Snifit #4, who can only become a real Snifit if he beats Mario & co. However, even unequipping all of Mario and friends' weapons, armor, and accessories doesn't help: Snifit #4 will probably go down in one turn of normal attacks. If the player really wants to have his party all defend every turn through the whole battle, it's conceivably possible to lose to Snifit #4, but the player will likely lose patience long before then.
    • Doing so isn't even that hard or that long, provided you face him once you have access to him (while using the above strategy). If you DO lose, you won't have to go back to the last save point; you'll reappear at the same spot and the Snifit will rush to Booster Tower where you'll find him as Snifit #4. You can repeat this with the Snifits that take his place, up to #8, and since Mario and his party will be at just 1 HP each afterwards, those battles will end quickly.
      • Also, with Snifit #8, he finds out that Booster only wants 7 Snifits, and he laments that his training was in vain.
  • Somewhat subverted in Suikoden II. There is a boss fight during the quest in which you recruit the main character from the first game. It is possible to lose this battle. However, you almost immediately enter another battle against the same boss...in which the main characters from the first two games will nuke it with the most powerful spells, instantly killing it. So even if you lose the battle, you still beat it.
  • After Harry takes the Felix Felicis luck potion in the sixth Harry Potter game, you fight a duel in which your opponents can't hit you and brew a potion which can't overheat. The gameplay, of course, returns to normal after the potion wears off.
  • In the first two games of the Mario & Luigi series, the introduction battles are impossible to lose even if you didn't press the button at the righ time and you take every single one of their hits. Due to a change in the battle system (the double jump) it's possible to lose against Bowser in the beginning of the third game.
  • All of Big Rigs: Over the Road Racing, because the other trailer doesn't move. Unless you have the patch, where it stops, just short of the finish line.
    • In addition to that, if you push the opposing truck across the finish line by ramming it from behind, the game doesn't acknowledge it and you still win.
  • In BioShock, up until the final battle against Atlas/Fontaine, dying causes you to be immediately resurrected in the nearest Vita-Chamber with roughly 50% Life and Eve. Thus, if you repeat the cycle of banging a Big Daddy with your pipe wrench, dying, and being resurrected enough times, you will eventually win. That said, an option to turn all Vita-Chambers off was added in a patch about six months after the game was released.
  • In Mega Man Star Force, after defeating the Crimson Dragon for the first time, Mega Man Geo-Omega goes One-Winged Angel and becomes unbeatable; he still loses HP, but it can't be reduced to less than one. Mega Man Star Force essentially ends with Mega Man Geo-Omega using the two Boss techniques used against him the most against the final boss.
  • The first stage of "Hero 30" mode in Half-Minute Hero does this...to a point. If you run out of time, the Time Goddess will revive you and encourage you to keep going (in fact, you need to do this at least once to advance the story). However, if you let time run out more than three times in that particular stage, you'll still receive a Game Over.
  • If you ignore Barneys Hide And Seek for the Sega Genesis, the game will play —and eventually complete— itself.
  • Penny Arcade Adventures episode 2 featured Charles, the Sissy Boss Fight. Despite his 10000 hp, he goes down in three hits and is utterly incapable of doing any damage whatsoever. Played for laughs since this fight is basically a distraction while Tycho is ransacking the office next door.
  • Bloody Wolf has a boss in the fifth level that you have to fight with a knife. You fight him again in the eighth level, only this time you can use your gun. He goes down with one hit.
  • You can't die in the Fake Action Prologue of Dragon Age II, which takes place before Varric narrates the real story. It serves to show Varric is an Unreliable Narrator.
  • Beating GLaDOS in Portal 2 is this, and also a Zero-Effort Boss. Of course, anyone who's read the chapter list, or even the achievements, knows that this isn't anywhere near the end of the game.
  • At one point in episode 14 of Knight's Contract where you are separated from Minukelsus and searching for him, its impossible to gameover since Heinrich is immortal and no partner required for him to protect.
  • Ys Origin, when you play as Hugo, pits you against the Mantid twice. During the second fight, Hugo gets a power boost and the Mantid loses some of its powers. In the Steam version, there's an achievement for losing this battle.
  • The final battle of Rune Factory 3: Micah faces off against Aquiticus, Dragon God of Water. Aquiticus will eventually unleash an un-dodgeable, full-screen attack on you. But you'll notice you're not going down, even after your hit points are at zero. Once you rush up and hit Aquiticus, the battle ends and he'll reveal the whole thing was a Secret Test of Character, seeing if you'd give up and abandon your fiancee, whom he kidnapped to bring you in. During the Playable Epilogue, you can fight Aquiticus for real and in the Bonus Dungeon's final level, you can fight Aquiticus' at his full power.
  • In Tales of Xillia 2, Ludger ends up having to fight either Jude or Milla in a duel. Whether you reduce their HP to zero or have the same done to you, the outcome ends up being the same: your opponent will unleash their Mystic Arte, at which point you'll automatically retaliate with your own and win the battle.
  • The entirety of the game Beyond: Two Souls is impossible to lose because all failures to act on the games many Press X to Not Die sequences will either force the player to try again, or the game will simply move on. This is due to the game's creator believing that Game Over in a narrative-driven game represent more of a failure of the game than of the player.
  • It's impossible to lose to Bowser's final form at the end of Super Mario Galaxy 2. Still, it's enough to scare the crap out of you when he rises up again just as you think you've finally beaten him.

Flawless VictoryVictory and DefeatGame Over
Fake TrapVideo Game Difficulty TropesGameplay Ally Immortality

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