I'll try to explain what this "environmental battle system" of Mirage of Dragon is.
See the picture below:
|Have in mind: it's only a concept art!|
The most basic example of a good environmental battle would be the Bowser fight in the very first Super Mario Bros on Nintendo. The key difference is: you don’t attack the enemy directly; instead you change the state of environment using a certain “switch” object. You don’t kill the enemy – you create a situation in which the enemy can die naturally.
As you can see on the picture there are several Prince of Persia style buttons on the ground – you activate these just standing on top of them. Each has a certain effect. It can be anything, but the standard “reactions” can be categorized as:
It’s like implementing your normal RPG-style menus directly in the environment. You don’t choose “fireball spell” in the menu – you run and jump to “attack button” on the ground, which creates a fireball for you. “Resist” type buttons can create various shields or walls even. “Move” type can create a teleport or extra platforms (this will be used often...). Some buttons can transform you or summon creatures. The number of all possible reactions is nearly infinite.
The “switches” can be anything too. In a science fiction game I would swap the buttons with some kind of energy fields. There are many ways to use it.
I think this system is perfect for puzzle platformers (or any other puzzle+action combos). Mirage of Dragon won’t be able to show you even half of its potential, but as an introduction to this battle style it should work well. (I got to leave something for the sequels :)).