Each of the maps in which you can battle have two or three color variations, except for Sein which only has one. Many of them also have destructible features, and games may occasionally start with some of these features already broken and removed. For each map we will discuss the locations of those features and that of other interactive objects which can be destroyed or thrown telekinetically, the most secure places to set an environmental crystal, and some basic play strategies.
This area resembles the food court or atrium within a shopping mall, and seems to be the most commonly chosen level. It is the second smallest one and has a large number of interactive objects such as tables and park benches but few permanent vertical features to hide behind save for the giant tree growing up through the center. There are two stories to this location, the ground floor and the balcony. Unless you are using a flight enabling skill such as Jump, the balcony is only accessible by two staircases and two escalators each near one of the four corners. It is possible however to climb the tree up to the second level with a character that can jump, but watch out that you do not fall down the hole the tree is growing up through.
The balcony has a railing which is destructible for the most part, and the balcony itself can be brought down at the two intersections of the central walkway with one shot to the support columns below. This can be a good spot to lay an environmental effect, but games may start with these intersections already collapsed. Other prime environmental drop points are on the stack of cardboard boxes in the corner just left of the staircases, atop the folding sign or boxes between the escalators, and upon either of the horizontally positioned signs that stretch above the escalators.
This area is not so small as to make long range attacks useless but perhaps less useful. Medium and close range attack skills may thus be the order of the day, especially ones which arc to help reach those itches that you just can’t scratch with a straight shooting Bullet of Fire.
The highway is a series of four elevated, broken stretches of road which twist and cross one another as overpasses and intersections. The two longest sections run somewhat parallel with one another and meet at one end. The two shorter sections overpass the other two at approximate 90 degree angles and are accessible by two staircases each. Falling from these roads or staircases to the abyss below will damage you and return you to your spawn point. Permanent vertical barriers are limited to just those four staircases and several small sections of wall along the sides of the roads. There are very few interactive objects here, just some small road construction signs and sometimes not even those.
Terrain features ideal for hatching an environmental effect upon include a large section of road near the intersection/toll gate, several chunks of wall extending up from the lower roads which can be dropped down upon from the larger of the overpasses, and a pair of large highway exit sign which can only be reached with a flight skill.
Because this level is fairly large and only sparsely populated by vertical terrain features, you should have no problem making good use of your long range attack skills; just watch out for theirs as well. Vibration Lasers and their breed excel in open areas, but make certain to carry along something for when the enemy brings the fight to you. And opponents above you on an overpass or below you as you stand on one can be easy pickings with a parabola attack if you get the right angle.
This stage resembles the office of a shipping company. It is the smallest level and undoubtedly the most cluttered. If you are claustrophobic, there are two panic inducing stories to this completely interior area and a somewhat open entrance area in the front. The entryway may have a couple of columns which can be collapsed but nothing which can be thrown. The two spaces deeper within the building have a whole assortment of interactive objects: crates, desks, filing cabinets, and computer monitors.
Prime environmental crystal drop zones are all on the second floor and include the top of any of the filing cabinets, the floor in the center of the office space (as it is collapsible), or atop the vending machine just outside that room.
Unless it’s Lucifer’s Arrow, which penetrates obstacles, don’t bother with rain attacks as there is always a ceiling over player’s heads thus rendering said attacks completely ineffective. Speaking of penetrating obstacles, you might try using Charged Particle, Agonies of Death, Thor’s Hammer, or Scream of Evil. You might also notice that the walls here are not terribly thick, and you can damage players on the other side of them if you push your character’s nose into one and launch one of several choice attacks including Telekinesis (great for the number of toys you can toss) and Ricochet Laser (tough to block and never hits him who cast it).
This stage is a trip. Players battle each other on the faces of buildings. The only solid edge of the stage is actually the ground and getting too friendly with the other three edges will see you falling… sideways? Thankfully though, it is not terribly disorienting, just interesting. There are cars and billboards floating overhead which can be reached via the glowing pink shafts of light, better known as jump points. Stepping on one of these will catapult you straight up (or is it out?) and make it easier to reach certain portions of the level. Any particular game may or may not have the jump points operating. The shop signs sticking out of the sides of the buildings are the only potential projectiles here.
Environmental crystals can be safely placed on many of these shop signs or on the floating billboards either of which can be destroyed.
This stage is certainly open enough to warrant the use of medium and long range attack skills, and hiding behind a shop sign when being shot at may not be the best of ideas. Because of the weird gravity, if one is struck, pieces of it will fly and bounce slowly about in all directions, and getting hit by a chunk of sign is often much more painful than simply getting hit by the attack skill which broke the sign. Again, due to the height differences, parabola attacks can do you proud.
This is a large oil drilling platform in the middle of the ocean. There is a walkway which encircles the main platform and a mess of staircases leading up or down from it. There are also a number of catwalks and a few crane arms overhead. When walking on any of these surfaces, watch your step. There may be as many as five jump points in effect: one in each corner and one on the elevated section in the center of the main platform. Interactive objects include oil barrels, chain-linked fences, and some smaller freight boxes. Too bad you can’t hurl those really big containers too.
Good locations for setting up environmental effects are atop any one of the barrels scattered about the place, on the large freight container hanging from the undamaged crane arm, or on the tail of the parked helicopter in the corner.
Laying down a Confused Gravity can make things quite interesting, and combining it with Killer Satellite is guaranteed to put some hurt on the competition. Each of the long ranged attacks have a place here, and those which arc can be especially nice, but cannot be fully relied upon to finish the job. Crafty players will hang about on the main platform lobbing nastiness at those on the walkways and ducking under an elevated section when anything heads their way. Why not head down there yourself with some mines. That should put the bada-boom back in the room.
This area looks remarkably like a traditional Japanese neighborhood what with its narrow winding alleys and tile roofed houses rubbing against one another. Jump points can carry you up to the rooftops, and if using a character that can hop, you can make a complete loop about the level without ever hitting the street below. This stage can be quite easy to lose yourself within and forget where you left your spawn point, so as you head out note the significant features you pass: perhaps curved stairs, chain-linked fences, or balconies. This level is a maze of wide, vertical terrain features, none of which are destructible. There are also no interactive objects to speak of. Even the fences won’t budge.
The safest place for laying your environment skill is upon the roof of one of the island-like houses in the center of the level. It can be quite tough to get up there without a flight enabling skill, but it is possible if your character can hop. Failing this, you could try tucking it back into a concealed corner or on a balcony.
It is fairly common to find yourself running from and boxed in against other players and their Flame Swords here. So the best defenses can be things which erase close range attacks like Fortress of Iron or mines which explode around your character like Photon Wave. Flight skills such as Jump can not only be useful for reaching the otherwise nearly unreachable rooftop in the center, but can also aid you greatly in dodging those evil hand-to-hand attacks. Just leap from ground to rooftop or across a large gap between buildings. Long ranged and parabola attacks are highly prized here as well. This is also a good stage for Charged Particles, as most players won’t even see them coming.
Pronounced “Zine,” this stage is the location for your last few battles in scenario mode. You can only choose this level when hosting a game if you have beaten scenario mode. This area appears to be a giant disc shaped slab of earth free floating through a sky of swirling orange. It is quite expansive and its main vertical terrain feature is the giant tower in the center. There are also some Romanesque columns and funky looking posts (street lights perhaps?) rising from the far from level ground. You can get up on top of these or reach the higher surfaces of the tower with the many jump points scattered about. Nothing in this level is destructible or effected by telekinesis, but portions of it will fall away as time winds down. This is preceded each time by a five second glow of yellow energy outlying the area that will crumble.
The only secure locations for setting up an environment crystal are the portions of the stage that break away on their own. Either set one down as the yellow energy appears around you, or play this stage often enough so you know just which portions will be falling away. The next best places would be the tops of those funny posts.
You won’t go far wrong by loading up on long range attacks for this area. Using a character that can jump is a good idea as well because the rough terrain can otherwise be somewhat difficult to negotiate, and cartwheeling will just as often as not send you careening over the edge. Take advantage of the columns, posts, and raised sections of rock when dodging, and if someone is using Killer Satellite or another rain attack against you, go hug the tower beneath one of its platforms, and you will escape unscathed.