Thursday, November 6, 2014

Hetalia Dating Sim: Canada

Author: Anicosu
Availability: Free, Online
Format: Dating Sim
Genre: Fan Work, Anthropomorphism
Rating: E (DeviantArt vesion) / M (Newgrounds version)

Found at

Note: this review will only cover (and link to) the all-ages version.

My scores (out of 5):

Writing: 3
Art: 4.9
Gameplay: 3
Romance: 2.5 ("Cute!")


In Hetalia Dating Sim: Canada, you are insert-name-here.  Your room-mate, Alfred/America, has talked you into going on a blind date with his brother Matthew/Canada, and if that sounds at all strange, then I should back up a little and explain that this game is a fan work based on Axis Powers Hetalia.  For those who don't know, Hetalia is a manga (and an anime) in which all of the characters are actually countries, so their personalities are based on national stereotypes.  If the thought of dating an entire country intimidates you, just think of him as an extremely polite hockey-fan and you'll be fine.


The Writing

Since I have only a passing familiarity with Hetalia, it's difficult for me to say exactly how much this game succeeds at emulating the source material.  However, everything about it does remind me very strongly of the Hetalia strips I've read.  Even the English, which I tend to get very fussy about, has the same not-wrong-but-not-quite-natural-in-some-way-I-can't-peg feel of a translated Manga, although I can't say for sure if that's deliberate.  What I can say for sure, though, is that this is very cute, and Matthew's personality absolutely shines through in every line he speaks or thinks.  (Of course, if a greater Hetalia fan wants to say that he's completely out of character here, then I shall amend that to this Matthew's personality shines through.)

The Art

The art is outstanding.  Let me repeat that: the art is outstanding!  Something holds me back from giving it a perfect 5, but doing so almost feels like a crime.  The game is beautifully animated, with head-tilts and trembles and little gestures that define the character as strongly as his dialog does: in a scene where he is working up the nerve to kiss you, he is trembling while standing still.  Even the background is animated, featuring a lively conversation taking place behind Matthew during your date.  It's a stunning reminder of how big a role art can play in telling a story

There's probably no need to say that the art is manga-influenced; specifically, it tries to copy the look of Hetalia, and I think it succeeds.  The music is also very nice, and I like the fact that we can tweak what our heroine looks like.  Overall, I give the art a standing ovation.

The Gameplay

Hilariously enough, I think this is the first dating sim I've played that actually simulates being on a date.  Oh, other games have a "date" function, but the focus is always on building the relationship up to and past that point, and the dates themselves are usually just a basic talk/kiss/gift system at most.  Here, the entire game is set around going into a restaurant with a man and trying to keep a conversation going without accidentally offending or alienating him, much like an actual date.

The game is very good about giving you feedback on your dialog choices.  Not only does a pink/blue meter in the corner track how well the date is going, but you are also able to see Matthew's thoughts sometimes as he reacts to your comments and questions.  It not only reflects the game's manga roots, but also lets you see just why one choice might have been better than another.

The date ends rather abruptly, though, with a bit of narration giving a brief run-down of how the rest of the evening went.  It's rather jarring, and feels like it's just quitting in the middle.  Also, regardless of how well or poorly your date goes, there are only two endings: success or failure.  Well, to be fair, there are technically three or four endings, since if you get success, you can choose how to react to Matthew's request to kiss you.  That's about it, though.

The Romance

It's hard for me to say how romantic this game is, since while Matthew is an adorable sweetie, you're only playing through a first date with a stranger (and half a date, at that).  This is the part where you're feeling each other out, trying to see if it'll be worth going on a second date.  There's no epic, love-at-first-sight soul-mating going on; no dashing heroes saving winsome damsels, no troubled or lost souls redeemed by love.  It's rather low key, and I guess more realistic--considering the fact that you're dating the nation of Canada.


This game is an excellent work of fan-art, with stunning art-work, cute writing, and gameplay that actually simulates dating (however briefly).  Players not familiar with Axis Powers Hetalia might be a little bit confused by some details, but they certainly won't be left out in the snow.  This is one of those games that would-be creators should study, especially since it shows how art and animation can do the same job as writing in some places.

Of course, all of this is only my personal opinion.  You might think this game is sweeter than maple syrup, or you might want to Blame Canada.  Feel free to speak your mind in the comments.

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