So, in the first minute, maybe less, you run into an M4 Sherman who is late to school. Also, has toast.
I did not realise “How is this my life?” would be such an incredibly accurate title for this thing, but there you go. And here I am, with Panzelmadels: The tank dating sim.
Yes, tank dating. You date girls who are also tanks.
This is, unlike other games (yes, there are other games with tanks who are also cute girls), is apparently not a world where cute girl = tank, so at least the player character - you don’t get a choice of gender, unlike in Huniepop, you are very definitely a guy in this - is as disturbed and confused by the whole thing as I am. Judging by the dating sim aspect, though, I’m guessing he gets over it surprisingly fast.
The game itself is much more of a traditional visual novel, text with player choices rather than any minigames, and I have to say that while the artwork is definitely decent, I think Huniepop has spoiled me. For one thing, there are no options for this game not even - as far as I could find - one to make it run fullscreen. You can skip text, save and load, and that seems to be about it. The music is not stellar, and I know I’ve heard at least one of the background music tracks before, so it’s entirely possible they’re simply using free stock music. That, as mentioned, there is no in-game way to mute or turn down.
So, the game has to depend on its writing and characterisation and, to be both fair and honest, those are the two most important aspects of this sort of thing anyway.
Also, have I mentioned the central conceit that World War Two tanks are also cute girls? Since that’s a thing and I believe I may need help getting over it.
Like I mentioned earlier, the first one you run into is Sherman, who is both an M4 Sherman and a brunette who seems to have forgotten to tie the bow on her school uniform (yes, the tanks are in serafuku) and seems to be the friendly carefree tomboy type. Getting in trouble and being happy all the time. Then there’s T-34, who appears to be filling the tsundere slot, Panzer IV, who apparently has lingering issues about Crimea with T-34 and yes, I am stopping every few moments as I type this simply to look at the words and marvel that they actually make sense in context.
Panzelmadels takes that central conceit and never stops running with it.
The concept itself is similar to the ‘one boy in an all-girls’ school’ type of VN, while also falling in the same rough conceptual area as Hatoful Boyfriend - except, unlike Hatoful, the PC doesn’t implicitly accept the non-human dating options as a standard, common part of everyday life.
There’s other tanks/girls, such as Tiger I, who keeps breaking down and crashing into thing and people, an IS-2 who really wants to know if you’ve ever been inside a tank and that sounds terrible in this weird, weird context, and IS-2 is terrible and disturbing and yet also amusing.
The writing is actually well done and the girls, other than IS-2 who I fear may kill me, are nice girls. Panzer IV is somewhat on the ditzy side, Tiger I has confidence issues, Sherman is a grinning ball of trouble, but they feel like people (who are also tanks), rather than stereotypes and cardboard cutouts.
Even IS-2 isn’t as flat as she appears, and there are numerous background tanks that pop up, even Bob Semple.
Bob Semple, if you are unaware, was New Zealand’s initial attempt at a tank - literally iron sheets on a tractor base with guns.
Bob Semple in Panzermadels is an awesome character and I quickly came to love her.
Also, the occult studies club is literally just all the German tanks doing blood magic. This game is strange and weird and yet actually amusing and engaging and enjoyable, with a remarkable amount of attention to detail. It’s one of those things that can be hit or miss, but also something you are best off trying for yourself, as simply describing it doesn’t do it justice. However, the inability to adjust the background music is moderately annoying.
Now, if you’ll excuse me, I must go cuddle with Tiger I, after making sure Panzer IV and Maus aren’t sacrificing virgins again.