Written by MSG Commander
Maxim's Castle is due west of Vanessa's Lab, on a big island with a mountain range all along the coast.
This castle is full of doors and switches. Turning any switch on or off changes which doors are open or closed. (Basically, when the switches are off, certain doors are closed, and when the switches are turned on, those doors are open - but previously open doors are closed.)
The Main Floor
There's a door on the main floor of the castle that takes four keys to unlock - a Red Key, a Blue Key, a Silver Key, and a Gold Key. In addition, there are two sets of stairs leading down, one on the west and one on the east.
There are also two exits to small courtyards, one on the west, and one on the east.
The Blue Key
From the main floor, follow the path to the west courtyard to get an Ether Heal, then take the stairs on the west side of the main floor that lead to sub-level one. Follow the path to the east, and activate the switch. (Make sure that it's glowing blue.)
Now go back to the main floor and follow the path to the east courtyard, where you'll find the Blue Key.
The Red Key
While the switch is still active, go down the stairs on the east side of the main room, and follow the path to the east to get the Red Key.
The Silver Key
Go back to the main floor and take the stairs on the west side down to sub-level one. Follow the path to the east. Take the second south and the first east, and follow that around to another switch. Turn this switch off and follow the path to the northeast to get a treasure.
From the treasure, follow the path until it heads back to the west. Skip the next south passage you come to, and take the one after that. (The same one you took earlier to get to the switch you just turned off.) Notice that the path you took to the east earlier is now blocked by a closed door.
Follow the path all the way around to stairs leading down to sub-level two.
On sub-level two, go north to get the Silver Key.
The Gold Key
After you get the Silver Key, go back to sub-level one, to the switch you just turned off. Turn this switch on, and go back to the northwest corner of sub-level one.
Stay on sub-level, one and follow the path to the southeast that leads to stairs down to sub-level two.
On sub-level two, go all the way south, and then take the first north passage you come to. There's a large hallway on the east side that has two treasures. Get the treasure and then go further north, and follow the path to a set of stairs that lead down to sub-level three.
On sub-level three, don't touch the switch. Follow the only path you can to stairs that lead up to an outside walkway. (The walkway part of this is on the map, but not all the grass and the castle walls. Sorry.)
Now, back on sub-level three, follow the path until you come to a set of stairs in the middle of the hallway. Take those stairs down to a large square room. This room has one treasure in the southwest corner - but you may not be able to see it very well, because it's blocked by the D-pad. Get the treasure, go back up the stairs, and keep traveling west.
Follow the path to a room with a large red carpet and one treasure. Get the treasure, and go back and follow the main path to a set of stairs that lead up to a rooftop walkway. (Again, the walkway is on the map, but not the grass or the castle walls.) The Gold Key is at the end of this walkway.
Once you have all four keys, go back to the main floor and unlock the door. Behind it is a set of stairs leading up to the first floor of the Castle.
- Ether Heal - located off the west exit of the main room.
- Blue Key - located off the east exit of the main room.
- Red Key - located on sub-level one, east side.
- Ether Energi - located on sub-level one, west side.
- Silver Key - located on sub-level two.
- Phoenix Plume - located on sub-level two.
- Vitality Seed - located on sub-level two.
- Ether Heal - located in the only room on sub-level four, in the southwest corner.
- Heal Elixir - located on sub-level three.
- Gold Key - located on a roof top, off of sub-level three.
If you've been collecting Phoenix Plumes for Quest 22, you just got the last one. If you want the reward, go finish this quest before going further in Maxim's Castle. (Although, you can also finish the quest after the Boss battle, so it's up to you which way you want to go.)
Inside the Castle
The first floor of the actual Castle is just one large room with a red carpet, a Restore point, and a set of stairs leading up to the second floor. The second floor is just one narrow hallway, leading to stairs up to the third floor.
The third floor is a bit more substantial, but there's nothing to do on this part of the floor but follow the path to the east, to stairs up to the fourth floor.
On the fourth floor, there's a room with a bunch of trap doors in the floor. When you go across the two blue tiles, stick to the outside walls to avoid all the traps. On the bottom of that room, go west as far as you can, then follow the path to the north to get a treasure. Now go back and follow the path as shown on the map to get past the next blue tile.
Take the first south after the blue tile to get another treasure, then go back and take the second south all the way around to stairs up to the fifth floor. Right in front of the stairs, there's a Boss battle.
The Red Dragon is the first of a number of "Guardians" that you have to fight to progress through Maxim's Castle.
If you've done the Legendary Weapons quests, one round of Holy, Volcano, Catastrophe and Meteor Strike should do him in. If not, it might take two or three rounds.
After you beat the Red Dragon, take the stairs to the fifth floor. Follow the path to the east and take the stairs down to the fourth floor. Take the path to the east to stairs down to the third floor, and go southwest to get the treasure.
Now go all the way back to the fifth floor and take the path to the west. There's another room on this floor with trap doors. Follow the map to avoid the traps, then go east and take the path all the way around to stairs to the sixth floor, and another Boss battle.
Use the same strategy you used on Red Dragon.
After you beat Chimera, take the stairs to the sixth floor. Follow the path to the west to a series of twelve large rooms. From the first room, go south through one room, east through one room, then north through one room to get a treasure. Now go south through two rooms, then east through one room to get another treasure.
Now, go north through two rooms, then follow the path through the remaining rooms to the third Boss battle. (But check your HP and SP first; this guy's a little bit harder than the other two.)
Stratavis is the Guardian of the sixth floor. This guy is stronger than the others, but if you've done the Legendary Weapons he'll still go down in about one round.
After this battle, keep following the path to the west. You'll come to another large room, with one treasure and with stairs leading up to the seventh floor.
On the seventh floor, follow the path to the north to get the treasure, then come all the way back to the stairs, and go south. There's a point where the path is sort of out in the middle of nothing - there are no walls around, only random tiles off to each side. At the end of this path there's a Restore point. Just beyond this is the final battle, so check your party to make sure you've got who you want in your formation.
Even if you've been really good about rotating your Energi Rings to let everyone learn all Energi types, you probably still have a ways to go before anyone learns Omegadia (all Energi types need to be Level 50). If you just need to master one last Energi type, you might consider grinding in the Castle until you learn it, at least for one party member. But, you absolutely do not need it in order to defeat Maxim. (It's just a pretty cool skill. But, if you plan on doing the Ultimate Title Quest, you can always grind after you beat Maxim, in which you will be able to learn Omegadia for everyone in your final party.)
- Ether Energi - located on the fourth floor.
- Heal Elixir - located on the fourth floor.
- Ether Energi - located on the third floor.
- Ether Heal - located on the sixth floor.
- Ether Energi - located on the sixth floor.
- Ether Energi - located on the sixth floor, after the Guardian battle.
- Energi Mail - located in the far northwest corner of the seventh floor.
When you meet up with Maxim, he's clearly gone mad with power. He tells you he's going to destroy you all, and then Ash, Shion and Enah ask him why he wants to hurt innocent people. He claims that when a living person absorbs corrupt energi, they become enlightened, as he has. (As if.) He tells you the world is in a fallen state, and in order to save the world, he's decided to eliminate the human race! And then, he attacks.
This first battle isn't difficult at all. Just use the same strategy you used on the Guardians, and it'll be over before you know it.
But now, he reveals his "true" power, and you get to fight him again.
This battle is a lot harder, but if you've made it this far, you ought to be able to beat him. I recommend using Aura instead of Holy, but stick with Catastrophe, as the total damage dealt by this skill is pretty high. Same with Volcano and Meteor Strike. If you haven't done the Legendary Weapons, you may need to Heal some party members before this battle's over, but it's unlikely that anyone will die.
After this battle, it seems Maxim is finally defeated. However, as you're all celebrating, he sneaks up and tries to stab Ash. Shion sees this and jumps in front of Ash to protect him, and...
Maxim absorbs Shion into his own body! As he threatens to do the same to the rest of your party, you enter the third and (truly) final Boss battle.
This battle really is hard. Keep using Aura, Catastrophe, Volcano and Meteor Strike - but pay closer attention to everyone's health. If he lives long enough to use Omegadia, you could be in trouble.
After this battle, Maxim is really and truly defeated. But unfortunately, Shion is still trapped. She begs Ash to throw Maxim into the energi abyss, so that he will be sealed away when Ash and Enah seal the abyss.
But, doing so means that Shion would be trapped in the abyss, as well, and that's more than Ash is willing to do. Shion tells Ash there's no other alternative, and it's got to be done now while Maxim is still in a weakened state. She reminds Ash that they're fighting to protect others, and not just for each other.
Finally, Ash says he'll do it. But what he actually does is to push Maxim in, and then jump in after him, so that he himself can remain with Shion. Unfortunately, his plan backfires, as Shion is reunited with the spirits of her parents, and quietly moves into the afterlife. Ash, on the other hand, is safely pulled out of the energi abyss.
After Ash mourns her passing, the game cuts to the "closing scene," and after that, the credits roll.
After you beat Maxim, you unlock Cheat Mode, which lets you adjust random encounters, and experience, skill points, and gold earned in battles.
If you want to go for the Ultimate Title, I recommend setting Experience and Skill Points both to x2, and then grinding in Maxim's Castle until Ash, Karim, Eclair and Enah (1417) are all Level 99 and all have Omegadia. Then (if you haven't already), use all the Seeds you've collected throughout the game to boost everyone's stats a bit, and go to an Item Shop and buy as many Hi-Elixirs, Energi Elixirs, and Ether Energis as you can.
Then, (and only then), head for the island just off of Nolthia, and pray for the best. Winning the Ultimate Title is NOT an easy task.