The font of this bold title would have you believe this game is about the most edgy of dragons out there; it encourages visions of a hardened, battle-weathered hero. Tales of Yore. Destruction. Wings of Magloryx has these elements, but the game's executed too poorly for it to matter.
Dragons - benevolent or nasty - should be the marvelous creatures that incite fear. This is not the case with this game's dragon, Magloryx. The scant background story, which is accessible from the game's main menu, reveals that when Magloryx went to sleep evil reared its head by stealing some precious relics, and then went to town in turning the world towards chaos. It's a light excuse for the dragon's and players' motivations to proceed in rescuing villagers, burning enemies' strongholds and destroying assailants with the gift of fire.
Unfortunately, Magloryx was designed to take damage easily, and by flying too close to building structures or trees our hero dragon cannot even clip these objects without taking substantial damage to its health bar. It's frustrating, to say the least, to have this supposed fire-breathing monstrosity be even weaker than a pine tree.
Saving peasants, obtaining gold and destroying enemies are mission objectives that vary throughout levels. Many stages consist of destroying a number of structures, while Magloryx dodges enemy attacks such as arrows or swords. Some of those levels may also have gold or villagers to collect and save as bonus objectives. On the one hand, it would be wise for players to go out of their way to complete these tasks; collecting gold allows you to purchase many power-ups, from short-term invincibility to health increases, and a variety of other beneficial status-altering effects. The power-ups themselves, which you have to remember to tap to use at the start of a level, are awesome in theory. Which dragon wouldn't want double the attack power, or the ability to breathe ice?
On the other hand, what's not awesome about fulfilling these extra missions is that the game is too clumsy and dull to warrant doing any of those things. In any given play session Magloryx has three lives and, if lost, all collected gold for these neat boosts goes with it. That seems like a fair enough trade, and thankfully once a level is unlocked it's there to try again even after a game over screen. You can replay levels to acquire gold and re-purchase boosts, but when the levels themselves are no fun and the enemy onslaught is too unfairly daunting, some may find themselves asking, "what's the point?".
The Wii U's GamePad touchscreen is used for buying items and purchasing upgraded skills. The controls for flying around, meanwhile, utilize the left analogue stick; players can rotate Magloryx as well as control the dragon's up and down movements through use of the right stick. Pressing R3 allows Magloryx to scoop up gold and hapless villagers, while the right trigger button (or the 'A' button) unleashes fireballs for his attacks. There's nothing wrong with the button mapping, but the controls don't always work particularly well. Controlling Magloryx is often a struggle, particularly during moments of flight and while attempting to adjust his elevations - the controls are not fluid, causing the beast to move haphazardly. This is in part thanks to the rotation element which throws his flight and directions off. The experience often feels as though Magloryx's movements fight against the player's control.
There's something incredibly wrong when your mission objective is to cause unbridled destruction, and the game succeeds in turning something that should be fun into a chore. Rescuing peasants and collecting gold involve hovering at specific heights, all the while using finicky controls. Accidentally destroying a structure, allowing villagers to be blasted into oblivion, should not be the depraved way to have fun in this game. Destroying buildings and enemies with raw fire power should be enough fun on its own. Sadly, it's just not at all enjoyable to be at the mercy of the game's broken mechanics, creating a lot of wasted time.
Combined with the levels being a boring mix of repetitive quests, compounded by Maglorx's terrible controls and frustratingly broken gameplay, it's a tough sell to want to replay anything the game offers. Moving from quest to quest is tedious when the only variety comes from increased difficulty via more enemies to the stages.
Glitches attribute to this backlash against fun, with considerable lag present when there's too much action going on in any one level. For instance, in a boss level where Magloryx is tasked with destroying cannons, the cannons fire surprisingly slowly. Magloryx alsos move at a snail's pace, rendering the game virtually unplayable. When it did work death came swiftly for us, even with power-ups; this experience simply isn't engaging.
When peasants floated in the air in another level as the result of a glitch, it was actually funny. What was not funny was that Magloryx refused to move; at other various times, wonky controls meant Magloryx would not fly in certain directions even if directed to. The game also occasionally does a strange glitch where Magloryx cannot get close to the action, but is instead pushed out of bounds from a players' intended target. On at least one occasion this game also crashed our Wii U.
Magloryx also utilises a specific aesthetic which it can't get right. As mentioned, it probably wants to be an edgy experience, but suffers from poor design and barely readable text. The music is large and operatic, and sadly is probably the only thing about the title that's decent. The caveat being that it's also mostly forgettable, as it's the expected music for a game with a brooding, lifeless world. Animation is also poor; the hooded archers and axe throwing beasts would be exciting if they weren't so frustrating to fly around and destroy. The only good thing about the art in this game comes from sketches that flash on screen while levels load - they're actually very cool, but are overshadowed by the mess of this game.
If dragons existed, they'd probably feel sadness and anger to be portrayed so poorly. Magloryx could be a fearsome dragon in a fun game but, unfortunately, uncooperative controls and unnecessarily brutal gameplay make for a painful experience. The peasants and gold in this game will wither away to the forces of evil, in the end, because Wings of Magloryx just isn't compelling enough to play.