Tomorrow is a hope… Never a promise.
Student Transfer is an expansive collaboratively made visual novel involving TG/TSF. body swapping, mind control, transformation, possession, and more that has been steadily growing since its initial release back in 2015. Over its years of development, the title has grown from an innocuous curiosity into an impressively robust title even by the standards of full-length visual novels, but that is far from all there is to Student Transfer.
In addition to the base game, Student Transfer has developed an active community of fans and writers who have been expanding upon the world, concepts, and characters of Student Transfer by creating their own Scenarios. I’ve previously covered some of these Scenarios in Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5, and Part 6, but it’s time to dive back into the well of (near) infinite value once again with Part 7!
Student Transfer Scenario Reviews – Part 7
Platforms: PC(Reviewed), Mac, Linux, Android
Before jumping into the reviews proper, I have a few (mostly arbitrary) disclaimers:
- These Scenarios come from the tfgames.site forums, which require an account to access. For those who do not want to go through the hassle, I have provided direct download links from the Scenario writer. These links may not be up to date and do not reflect any updates made to these Scenario after this post’s publication.
- An up to date list of every Scenario available for Student Transfer can be found on the official Student Transfer website.
- All Scenarios featured in this post, unless stated otherwise, were played using Version 5.2 of Student Transfer. Please keep this in mind, as Scenario compatibility is kind of all over the place.
- These Scenarios are very much non-canon and have no relevance to the main game. Yes, Student Transfer is an open collaborative effort, but these projects are developed beyond the control of the existing dev team.
- I am a crazy person, so I went and made flowcharts for every Scenario I covered in this post, except the ones with literally no choices.
- I would like to thank nexoq for their computer-generated Student Transfer flowchart program, Graphify, which aided me significantly in the creation of my flowcharts.
- I admire and appreciate all Scenario developers of Student Transfer, and would like to thank them for keeping the community active and extending the life of this incredibly special game.
I am going to jump right into the Scenarios themselves and assume you are familiar with Student Transfer, its cast, and its lore. If not, here’s my latest review of Student Transfer, here’s my dedicated Student Transfer page, and you can download various builds of the game via the download page of the official Student Transfer website.
A Matter of the Heart (And the Head) by Narg – Download – Flowchart
Set in a new location with an entirely new cast of characters, A Matter of the Heart (And The Head) follows Luka, a teenage boy who just resumed attending school after recovering from a nasty accident that left him with a case of amnesia. Meaning that he needs to re-meet his assorted cast of friends as he resumes his education. But right as he starts getting situated with his life and starts connecting with his assorted female cohorts, Luka learns that he is an incubus and was the victim of an attempted murder plot by someone in his close circle of friends, who is secretly a succubus.
This, in theory, should result in a social mystery story where the protagonist needs to prod and examine his friend group in order to suss out who tried to take his life, using his newfound powers to find out which of them are succubi and combating them accordingly. However, as the story drifts towards this likely conclusion, it gets… confused along the way.
I would describe the structure of A Matter of the Heart as a combination of smaller chapter-length ideas strewn together over the span of a mostly linear 3-hour-long Scenario. Where Luka and one of the female protagonists engage in some sexual or TSF flavored happenstance, because it turns out that every incubus/succubus has a unique power to call their own, and basically every female character is a succubus..
Luka can possess people, Beth can swap bodies, Airi can turn people into her clones when she consumes their semen with her mouth— which does not make any sense, but whatever— and so forth and so on. There is no shortage of novel or interesting ideas here, but they are dolled out in a very episodic manner, and contribute little to the overall story. Which concludes after Luka has had an encounter of sorts with all of the succubus suspects and is prompted to choose which one tried to kill him. Afterwards, the player is funneled through a series of brief endings that, bizarrely, are limited to four of the Scenario’s seven heroines.
Despite having done away with the nonlinear structure and created a fully complete Scenario with only minor deviations and a scattering of bad ends, A Matter of the Heart is emblematic of the same shortcomings I found in Narg’s prior works, including The Fate of Hannah Sterling and Escape the Manor. This Scenario has no shortage of good ideas, but the flighty structure and lack of depth left me clamoring for something more detailed. And while this does not make A Matter of the Heart a bad Scenario— I found its change of setting and eager use of CGs to be refreshing, its premise interesting, and the overall dialogue writing to be quite good— it leaves me pining for something a bit more.
A Sayaka Scorned by Soffia – Download – Flowchart
A Sayka Scorned is an offshoot of the main Student Transfer continuity where John only lightly uses his space-grade transformation doohickey to mess with Sayaka and Cornelia before the Scenario begins. The following day, John discovers that Sayaka has taken the remote from his not backpack and intends on using it to make his life a living hell. But rather than using it to demean John by making him her servant like in Popular by Omen064, Soffia’s take of this concept is that of a forced feminization story.
After drawing John to a secluded location, Sayaka uses the remote to issue mental commands to John, forcing him to refer to himself using female pronouns, changing his preferences and language to be more stereotypically feminine, and forcing him to wear a female uniform. In a more classical forced feminization story, this would typically lead to demeaning comments, phobic language, social ostracization, and general humiliation, but Soffia takes this concept into a far more… modern direction.
Something I brought up in prior Scenario reviews is how Tina Koya is set in San Fransokyo which, based on real life San Francisco, would likely be a progressive and open city with a population who would be open to people of varying cultural backgrounds, gender identities, and all that good stuff. So, when the young and more progressive student body see John like this and unable to explain this situation, they assume he is transgender. And, after a meeting with the principal, John is accepted as female by pretty much the entire school.
It is an ideal reaction, something that most LGBT+ people can only dream of, and the sort of reaction I think should be the norm. Hell, it’s a reaction I’m genuinely jealous of. Because I felt that I needed 1.5 years of HRT, 2.5 years of using a feminine voice as my normal speaking voice, and a $30,000 facial reconstruction surgery before I could so much as ask anybody outside of a small circle to view me as female.
However, John is not coming out as transgender. He is being forced and mentally manipulated into this role and Sayaka is using the progressive attitudes of her peers to further humiliate and demean John by… societally forcing him into transitioning due to the support and expectations of those around him, who view John as female and have certain expectations of him as such. Now, there is nothing wrong with this story concept in and of itself. If anything, I think Soffia handles the subject matter well, and I admire both her creativity and willingness to explore topics like this. However, this concept brushes a bit too close to a dark sliver of reality for me.
There is a lot of misinformation and myths about transgender people out there, and one of the more prolific is the idea that people are pressured into transitioning and that there needs to be a series of extensive checks in place to prevent someone from transitioning for the ‘wrong’ reasons. This is why certain nations and clinics have limitations on who they offer transgender related care to, such as requiring they be of legal majority, have a lifelong history of gender issues, have a diagnosis of gender dysphoria from a therapist, or present themselves as their preferred gender before they begin a medical transition. To some, these are ‘necessary safety precautions,’ but in practice, these are just barriers that prevent transgender people from pursuing medical transition earlier in life and undoing the adverse effects of puberty.
However, A Sayaka Scorned depicts a situation where somebody is socially pressured into transitioning. Due to the overwhelming acceptance of others, John lacks a recourse to help him out of his situation and is forced down the road of feminization and has no choice but to heed the whims of Sayaka as she ekes out every bit of masculinity away from him. It is a situation where he could be helped by somebody who is more ‘critical’ or ‘skeptical’ of his spontaneous urge to be viewed as female, and where the acceptance of others is hurting him.
This is something that I could not help but fixate on during my playthrough, and something I spent… an embarrassingly long amount of time mulling over once it was done. And for that, I would like to thank Soffia, as I quite enjoy works that force me to challenge things I find uncomfortable. However, I’m almost certain that she did not intend on this being a main takeaway from her story and was more concerned with depicting John’s unwanted transformation, which I think she does quite well.
Bargaining and begging lead to dread and disdain as John realizes just how futile his resistance is against somebody as all-powerful as Sayaka, who keeps a keen eye for any signs of resistance from John and punishes him with further alterations. Alterations that are represented visually using a series of custom sprite edits that fit John’s frame into a female uniform, accessorize his face with earrings and makeup, and further modify his appearance.
It does a lot to accentuate these transformations, but this Scenario sadly does not walk players through the entirety of John’s transformation in its current form, and stops once the changes start becoming physical. However, Soffia did create several custom sprites that are currently unused in the game’s character folder, tantalizing players like myself about what future updates could bring.
As for the writing itself, I would describe it as a good rough draft of a story that has some banger lines, but needs another read through and some better formatting. Soffia has an odd habit of referring to John using second person pronouns during narrations and seemingly does not know how to format character actions. She tries to use asterisks to convey actions like laughter, but she also tries to use this approach to express more complicated actions, such as somebody speaking “in a calm relaxed voice.” I’m not sure if this is a stylistic choice or just ignorance, but it is a curious decision that I’m surprised wasn’t changed after the first few releases.
Cornswap by IK12345 – Download – Flowchart
The Cornstuck route introduced in Version 4.0 of Student Transfer remains, by my estimation, one of the most unique routes in the game. It is pretty much the only branch that does not deal with swaps, transformations, or possessions, and instead focuses more on a character relationship and a mental alteration with physical repercussions. I liked it, but I was surprised there was not even a potential choice that could lead into a more standard body swap route, and recall wondering if somebody would pick up on this unexplored avenue via a Scenario… which is precisely what IK12345 did.
The Scenario begins after Sayaka nabs the remote from John in the base game and looks at both him and Cornelia with eyes of malice. And from there, Cornswap wastes little time before the insufferably petty Sayaka punishes her best friend for daring to express a hint of disrespect for her by switching her bodies with John, forcing the two to lead each other’s lives, and messing with their minds a little bit for good measure. From there, the story proceeds along a single developed route that switches perspectives between John and Cornelia as they go about each other’s days. Showing John as he is forced to play the role of Sayaka’s lackey while being subjected to further meddling and alteration as Sayka casually flaunts around her toy of world-shattering power. While also giving a developed look into Cornelia’s first night as John and the awkwardness that ensues as she compares and contrasts his life.
Cornelia’s interpretation of things is actually fairly refreshing given how plain and mellow John is often written in the base game and in fan Scenarios, as she is willing to get fiery, angry, and let her temper loose. Though, I think the writer might have gone a little too far here. In Cornstuck, Cornelia was shown to be a kind person who puts on a haughty face to appease Sayaka. And while she has more reasons to be frustrated or short-tempered in Cornswap, as she is stuck in John’s body and has to impersonate him, some of her internal monologuing makes her seem like a bad or nasty person as she casually dismisses John’s family and places herself on a pedestal.
However, I would completely understand this interpretation if the writer’s goal was for Cornelia’s personality to change and develop over time, and for her to only be this feisty during the story’s introduction. Or if the story overtly stated that Cornelia is pissy because of the male hormones pumping through her borrowed body. Unfortunately, IK12345 only finished Cornelia’s first day, and has not offered any sort of update on the project since its initial release back in August 2020. And that’s a shame, because she already laid the foundation for future updates by roping in new characters, piling on mental alterations, and setting up various variables that could lead to a spectrum of conclusions, but don’t at the moment.
However, despite her forum inactivity, IK12345 is still involved in the Student Transfer community and actually joined the dev team at the beginning of the year, where she is busy revising the Mistaken Identity route. The one that CaptainCaption extended a while back with a rambly and bizarre diatribe about Metal Gear Solid 2. Neat.
Empyrée by C.R.E.A.M. – Download – Flowchart – Version 4.X Compatible
Before beginning this review, I want to clarify that Empyrée boots in Version 5 of Student Transfer and is playable to a point. However, compatibility issues crop up when characters blush and when the Scenario tries inverting the colors of the background image. I could have just loaded up Version 4.6, but instead I tried my hand at modifying the Scenario a bit and brute forced a workaround. And since I’d rather not let my work go to waste, I decided to release my edited V5 Version of Empyrée.
For transparency’s sake, my changes were limited to the following:
- Changed how hundreds of blush expressions were coded
- Created inverted backgrounds as separate PNG files.
- Fixed some of the more glaring issues with C.R.E.A.M.’s French approach to punctuation.
- Fixed a presentation bug in day 1 of the Group 1 route.
- Converted the JSON files to YAML files because the Scenario guide said that was a good thing to do.
You can download my modified version of the Empyrée Scenario by C.R.E.A.M. for Version 5 of Student Transfer at the following link.
If you read my Scenario Reviews Parts 3 and 6, you should have picked up on how I am quite partial to Never, an incredibly ambitious and robust Scenario by C.R.E.A.M. that, through its multiple permutations, represents one of the most creatively captivating Scenarios I have encountered in my time doing these reviews. My praise for this Scenario came with the caveat of the writer’s not-so-good grasp of the English language, and I do have some breed of structure-based criticism with many of his routes. Still, I appreciate and admire his work because of the tenacity and drive he puts into every single route.
Preambles and praise aside, Empyrée centers around Mindy Simmons, a new philosophy teacher at Tina Koya who brings with her an enigmatic background and a magical tome that she hopes to use to change and enhance the lives of her students by broadening their minds and understanding through formative transformation-based experiences. It is a concept with a lot of creative wiggle room, and rather than focusing on a single core narrative, C.R.E.A.M. focuses on three choice-less routes.
The Jack, or Amalthea, route follows Mindy as she introduces herself to Jack Mallory. And as they engage in a cordial conversation, a busty elf lady bursts from a closet in Jack’s office and explains that her fantastical world is in danger and she needs Jack’s strong male body to fight her enemies and preserve the prosperity of her people. Accordingly, she pressures Jack into swapping bodies with her while is still awestruck by the surreality of this situation before hopping back into her magical closet. Thus leaving Jack stuck in the body of a non-human woman who does not exist in this world, while still having a litany of existing responsibilities.
Being the kind sort, Mindy helps Jack with his new situation, buying clothes for him, teaching him how to deal with his feminine and special-sized body, and being a good friend to him and showing him a sense of compassion that he typically is never afforded. It starts as a sweet Scenario that shows Jack in a more submissive role and gives him the opportunity to reassess himself as he is perceived as and feels like a different person. But just as the Scenario lulls the player into thinking it will be a chill introspective story of somebody coming to terms with who they are after being thrust into a different body, it takes a dark turn.
Jack backstabs Mindy, turns her into a plush toy, and absorbs her very essence, granting him knowledge about and comfort with his new form, in addition to unrestricted access to a magical book of nebulous and generally unimportant origins. From here, the route shifts to Jack’s perspective and follows him as he relishes and exerts his newfound powers by changing people physically and mentally as he sees fit. Cementing his place as a demigod in this world of pitiful mortals.
Or in other words, the Scenario turns into a power trip that I would compare to the LaFleur route from the version of Never I reviewed back in 2019. A route that I praised for its creative application of swaps, mental alterations, and a deliciously malicious tone, but criticized for the disproportionate and inconsistent priorities of its protagonist. Which, sadly, is also my biggest hang up with the Jack/Amalthea route.
Jack’s character is fairly malleable in the Student Transfer canon (I’m still waiting on the Murder route rewrite), and C.R.E.A.M. presents him as a man who had to struggle through his life and feels as if the world has wronged him, or at the very least denied him of the things he believes himself to be entitled to. He is petty, power-hungry, and bears a sense of disdain for others that is represented through a fascination for cruel and unusual torture. This makes him a fascinating character to follow as an empowered protagonist, and that is true for the majority of the Jack route.
Seeing him exert his warped sense of justice onto the world as he ruins lives, erases people, subjects innocents to a lifetime of constant pain and self-loathing, makes for an entertaining story in and of itself. But after going through one of the prettier and more deliciously outlandish permutations of absurdist revenge, Jack seemingly loses all passion for manipulating others and watching something deep inside them writhe in profound agony.
The final confrontations with John and Holly, characters Jack has exceptionally strong feelings for, are handled with the passion and intensity of a wave of a hand and see Jack disregard his modus operandi of savoring the suffering of others in order to get the intended results fast. Which almost counteracts the otherwise thorough epilogue and makes the ending of this route feel hollow. There is more than enough room here for an extra 20-30 minutes of bizarre magical torment, but C.R.E.A.M. seemingly became dispassionate with the concept and stuck a fork in it. Which is a bit of a shame, but I’m still glad that I saw everything this route had to offer.
The other two routes in Empyrée follow the same general structure and premise. Mindy goes about teaching her philosophy class by pairing the students up in various groups in order to discuss the philosophical question of, “do we have control over the consequences of our actions?” And after viewing one particular group struggling to collaborate and break down this question, Mindy works her literal magic and switches around the bodies of this group. As she believes that the bonds they’ll form by living each other’s lives will open up their minds, make them better people, and widen their perspective… or something of that sort.
Group 2 follows the group of Sayaka, Mel, Brad, and Abby Luten as they suddenly find themselves thrust into each other’s bodies during a heated discussion. Which causes them to clash, cavil, and collaborate over the span of a three-days-long story that has them cycling through one another’s bodies, so they can experience what everyone else’s life is like from the first-person perspective.
Group swaps like these are something I wish more body swap stories would explore due to their grander scale, but I will also say from experience that they are tricky to do, especially if you are shifting between the perspectives of multiple protagonists. You need to manage a lot of minutiae, make sure the group nicely bounces off each other in a wide variety of situations, and make the most of the whole body swap concept by giving each character a unique life and body to accentuate how different everybody is. All of which C.R.E.A.M. delivers upon, though I think the most impressive thing about this route is how he uses these seemingly random characters and gives them all a distinct role to play.
Abby reacts to this change positively, viewing it as an escape from her poor health and an aging body as she is given the opportunity to live without the same pressures of physical displeasures she has been harboring for nearly 20 years. Furthermore, by living the lives of others, and being treated by others with a kindness she is not afforded thanks to her usually authoritarian and unwelcoming demeanor, she is able to look at herself with more of a critical eye and truly assess if she is happy with who she has matured into, or if she wants to go against her age and try to change herself for the better.
Sayaka acts to this change like a spoiled brat, for she is somebody who has obsessed with her body and status to the detriment of just about every one of the traits, causing her to do a poor job of fulfilling anybody else’s role, much to the frustration of her more easygoing cohorts. However, as she fails to live up to the high standards of others and sees others be met with rousing success as they live her life, Sayaka’s pride starts to unfurl, allowing her to assess herself and develop the desire to become a better and kinder person.
Being the sole male of this group, Brad naturally struggles as he bounces between a spectrum of female bodies, and is routinely overwhelmed by his different proportions and the hormones gushing throughout his shifting form. Yet despite what his usually laid back attitude may imply, Brad does try to maintain order when he can, cooling off the tempers of Abby and Luten while undergoing his own introspective journey as the other sex.
Meanwhile, Mel serves as the upbeat and chipper glue that holds much of the story together, offering an optimism and cheer that helps even out the rough edges of Sayaka and Abby as the story goes on. She does not have much in the way of her own arc beyond a romantic relationship with Brad, but she also does not need one, as she is more of an aspirational character rather than one with flaws that need to be fixed, like with the other female protagonists.
Overall, I found this to be a rather excellent rendition of a group swap concept that fully explores each of its protagonists. Though if I needed to levy a criticism, it would be how the subplot regarding Brad’s sexuality was handled. Throughout the story, he struggles with his sexuality as he views his body from the third-person perspective. The story strongly hints that he is going to come out as gay at several points, but Brad winds up affirming his heterosexuality through a chance encounter with a naked Flavia later on, which puts a bullet in this subplot with no further questions or ruminations. It’s almost like C.R.E.A.M. wanted to write a male-loves-male story here, but then remembered there was no male character he could pair Brad up with in the story so far.
Then there is the Group 1 route, which follows Irene, Cornelia, Vanessa, and C.R.E.A.M.’s original character, Camelia. An unlikely quartet of female students with little pre-existing relationship to one another, decently contrasting personalities, and a limited number of relationships to other characters in the Tina Koya ecosystem.
Conceptually, I consider this a rather bold choice of characters, but in execution, I had a far harder time coming to grips with what exactly C.R.E.A.M.’s goals were with these characters, their development, and this route as a whole. Things do happen, relationships change for the better, all the girls ultimately find love in the end, and the Scenario does flow well scene-to-scene, but looking at the story on a more macro-level… I don’t get it.
While I could near-effortlessly trail off the character roles and functions of the cast in Group 2, with Group 1, I’m far less sure of what their role is both in the group as a whole and what they are supposed to take away from this story. The cast don’t really try to better each other or correct their flaws as much as they bicker and banter and socialize through a shitty, yet formative, situation and get to know each other far better than they would otherwise.
There are plenty of cute moments, good ideas for character relationships, and I enjoyed seeing these four become friends over such strange circumstances. But it all feels like it lacks a certain direction or conflict beyond an unwanted series of body swaps and high school relationship management. Even after skimming through the route a second time, I just don’t quite get what C.R.E.A.M. was going for here.
Overall, it is easy for me to summarize Empyrée as an extension of Never. C.R.E.A.M. still has one of the most distinct approaches to the world and characters of Student Transfer I have seen, and the biggest difference here over his prior work is that he is no longer limited to stories centered around Tori, and has the opportunity to play around with a broader cast. While his grasp of English is still far from perfect, or native, and I do have some quibbles with each of the routes, I still had a great time letting the story flow through me like water as I chilled out to the lo-fi beats of the soundtrack… While going on the occasional “fit of overwhelming happiness” when I saw that he put in the extra effort to create custom sprites or art assets.
However, I do have to say that I was disappointed with how the protagonist, Mindy Simmons, was handled. She’s a thicc gyaru with magic tattoos, a degree in philosophy, a dark past, a good attitude, and a kind heart. I love everything about her, however, her role in what is supposed to be her Scenario is incredibly limited. She plays the narrating god-figure in the group swap routes, and while she is a core character in the Jack route, she gets merked a third of the way in. More than any character C.R.E.A.M. has created or reinterpreted, I want to see what she’s about, what her adventure looks like, and learn how she became such a dope lady.
I wonder if Mindy’s background will be expanded upon in future updates, but sadly I’m not sure if C.R.E.A.M. will return to the world of Student Transfer with a new Scenario. …Because, back in January 2021, he released the first version of his own gosh darn visual novel by the name of Palladium. Which I’m definitely going to check out sometime soon.
Graceful Misfortune by ChoripanKiller – Download – No Flowchart
Coming from the writer of The Festival, A.S.A.P., and the MaidenSwap route, Graceful Misfortune takes place the day the school pool opens up for the summer, and the entire student body is given the opportunity to enjoy its cool embrace and get away from the summer heat. But this day of celebration soon veers into disarray after Setsuna mistakenly gives the school nurse, Grace Reinhardt, a pink porcelain cat with the power to manifest the internal desires of others onto reality. Which naturally takes the form of altering minds, bodies, and more, as this little cursed tchotchke picks up on even the vaguest desire and finds some way to use it to worsen and inconvenience the lives of others.
The spark that sets off this powder keg of chaos is none other than Riley. A somewhat underutilized male student at Tina Koya who is most notable for his child-like features, poorly veiled perverted nature, and friendship with the even more rarely utilized background character, Giggs (who was renamed to Genny in V5 for some reason).
After an unwanted trip to the nurse’s office and a stray thought interpreted by a doohickey of unrequited malice, Riley transforms into a perfect copy of Grace, and as he collaborates with real Grace to both find a solution and hide his transformation, things escalate like they almost always do, and almost always should. Identities are shuffled, small changes pile up to a dangerous degree, mistakes are made, and just as the story looks like things are going to be wrapped up nicely, things billow and bloom into a positively delightful climax full of transformations, sprite edits, tumbles, and tits. Lots of tits.
The story is long and developed enough to feel complete. The scattering of subplots complement the main story nicely. The tone is a lot more humorous and zany than your typical Scenario, the characters all feel grounded in how they are presented in the base game. And the presentation is shockingly ambitious for a Scenario like this, with custom sprite edits and this really cool effect where the background dims as characters monologue to themselves and other characters become semi-transparent. It’s a minor touch, but it really shows that Chori, and his co-developers, put the extra effort in with this Scenario and wanted to make something special.
However, effort does not equate to polish, and my only major criticism with the Scenario is that while it excels in storytelling and presentation, it makes numerous missteps when it comes to the little things. The script, despite being edited by multiple other writers, has a fair share of typos, grammar errors, and clunky sentences. While the story itself has a litany of minor blemishes that I couldn’t help but pick up on as I made my way through this Scenario.
From how the entire idea of a school-wide pool day is impractical due to the implied size of the student body (even schools with aquatic centers have capacity limits), to how the story never addresses what happened to Grace’s IUD after she turned into Riley. I mean, it probably just popped out with her penis and fell out of her pants and onto the floor, but Chori could have definitely squeezed in an awkward scene where somebody found it while getting their physical examination.
These minor quibbles added up to a hefty makeshift list amidst my notes as I played, and while they do not stop this Scenario from being a 9/10 banger, an extra dose of polish would probably be enough to bump it up to a full 10/10. Still, if I were to make a “Must Play” list of Scenarios for Student Transfer, this would almost certainly earn a spot.
Gyara Ara~ by Luckysquid – Download – Flowchart
From the creator of the Scenario Strange Sunday and the MemSwap route, Gyara Ara~ tosses the protagonist torch to a new character by the name of Ethan Moss. A young man who has been training in the art of hypnosis and decides to test his newfound skill on his teacher, Leona Winters. Things progress innocuously at first, with Ethan helping his teacher relax and find her inner sunny place, but as the hypnosis digs deeper and deeper into Leona’s psyche, the changes start becoming troublesome as Ethan sheds away more and more of Leona’s inhibitions.
From here, it seems very clear where this Scenario was going. At least until Sandra is brought into the mix and the story… completely stops being about hypnosis. Instead, the focus shifts over to a magically adept Sandra as she gradually yet rapidly transforms herself and Leona into gyarus. And for those unaware, gyarus are a semi-popular youth fashion trend in Japan, where mostly young women dye their hair blonde, get aggressive tans, and adopt a vapid, bimbo, or valley-girl demeanor.
Now, that might sound like a bit of a stretch for these two to just suddenly decide to transform, but there is a discernible logic behind their actions. They are getting older, are surrounded by teenagers all day, and need to uphold a status as authority figures. They long for the freedom of youth they see on a daily basis, and to embrace their more… base desires after being without consistent male companionship for years.
Anyway, as this initially happens, Ethan is under the influence of Sandra’s magic and plays along before having an epiphany where he can either confront his gyaru teachers, or stay quiet and hope things get better. This is where the route starts to diverge considerably, and where my thoughts on it become a bit more… mixed.
Conceptually, it is a gosh darn festival of transformations, reality changes, and mental alterations that makes great use of a wide spectrum of sprites. But the execution of it all feels disjointed and poorly established, mostly because of Sandra’s characterization. Her reason to become a gyaru, in both body and mind, makes sense due to her freed inhibitions and history as a 40-something-year-old teacher. She has a reason to transform other people into gyarus, because she wants to share this enthralling experience with others. She remixes families about and turns children into mothers because she wants herself and her friends to have authority figures to rally against… and fund their routine shopping sprees.
But when the story digs deeper into the endgame and Katrina has been turned into the resident man meat for a gaggle of girls at Tina Koya, or half the staff and student body of the school have undergone life swaps, it’s a lot harder to comprehend what Sandra’s goal is here. Is she abusing her magic for teh lulz? Is she obsessed with keeping her new life spicy and interesting? Or was she secretly always a full-blown misanthrope who likes watching people suffer because it got her genitals all steamy?
Most of the later portions of the routes in Gyara Ara~ feel like they were written to fulfill an idea or concept that was wiggling around the creators head. And while their ideas are gosh darn excellent— the kind of thing that had me spamming words of praise and excitement in my notes— the ideas are ultimately disjointed and don’t make much sense when put together. Honestly, it all could probably work with some more narration from Sandra and by turning this into her Scenario partway through and following her as she rationalizes her actions and immerses those around her into chaos.
Sandra’s lack of justification for the horrible and wild things she does strikes me as a fairly basic character writing mistake and one that I find surprising coming from a writer as skilled as luckysquid… But once you ignore this issue and embrace the Psycho Gyaru Mind-Busting Chaos, then yeah, this Scenario is a pretty cool time.
Principiis Magicae by Adamdead – Download – Flowchart
Principiis Magicae follows an unnamed male protagonist as he’s pulled away from his humdrum life and brought into an extraordinary and enigmatic world where he is recruited by a powerful yet playful wizard as his apprentice. But rather than teaching the protagonist directly, the wizard gives the unassuming protagonist a female digital angelic assistant by the name of Circel, transforms him into a woman (because the story wouldn’t work without a TG transformation) and ships him off to a domain where he can travel to other worlds. This in turn opens up a cavalcade of options, remixes of said options, and promising hours-long journeys that the protagonist can go on. Unfortunately, the Scenario has an estimated playtime of about 90 minutes, meaning that while there is one semi-complete route, Principiis Magicae is yet another skeleton-style Scenario.
That being said however, it is also the BEST skeleton. It is an SSS-rank, diamond-tier, platinum-grade skeleton, and easily one of my favorite Student Transfer Scenarios. And I have played about a third of all Student Transfer Scenarios, which is a LOT. That is OVER 50. Why do I love it so much? Well, I have three main reasons.
One, Principiis Magicae has the most impressive presentation I have ever seen in a visual novel. More than AAA production values of Muv-Luv Alternative, more than the supreme quality-per-minute of Lily’s Night Off, and more than anything any other Scenario writer has ever done with Student Transfer… that I have seen. This is the most impressed I have been with a video game’s presentation years, and if you might think I am being hyperbolic or unreasonable here… play the goldarn Scenario yourself.
Play it and compare how deliberate, how precise, how relentlessly detailed nearly every scene is compared to other visual novels, compared to the base game of Student Transfer. Compare them and tell me, with the eyes and passion of a dead fish, that this is not something from a generation beyond. You’ve got video backgrounds, moving semi-transparent foreground objects, a whole crew of characters bobbing up and down, zooming in and out, jittering and jiving in little animation subroutines, several goldarn video files on top of other video files, and additional visual effect over all everything.
This is what happens when you have somebody working on a project who does not want to settle for ‘good enough’ and wants their craft to be perfect. Somebody who is capable of bringing their vivid imagination to life, and either knows or can learn all they need to make it so! This is the work of somebody with a vision, and I absolutely adore their vision. I adore it HARD! Both conceptually and tonally, Principiis Magicae offers something that manages to strike deep within my subconsciousness and gives me something that I have wanted to see for so long, and something eerily similar to what I WANTED and TRIED to accomplish with my ill-fated 2013 web novel series Nari’s Log.
With Nari’s Log, I wanted to create a grandiose space-scale story about transformations, magical mayhem, and finding one’s identity that involved traveling through different worlds and featured a cast of recurring characters. Which, as far as I can tell, is pretty much the same goal as the writer of Principiis Magicae. And while the precise details are COMPLETELY different, this gives me a connection to this Scenario that I simply don’t encounter very often. But what I admire and appreciate more than this connection’s existence is how Adamdead does this concept FAR better than I could have ever so much as imagined!
However, even if I lacked this deeper connection to this Scenario, I still love its personality. The sense of mystery, uneasiness, and overwhelmingness that permeates throughout the introduction. The clunky, somewhat dissonant, voice clips that try to be funny, but instead are the good kind of awkward. Overt references that would be eye-rolling in many circumstances, yet glimmer with earnestness and polish that left me figuratively (and literally) clapping along. And then there is the entire fantasy route, which I had to break apart and nurse over nearly two hours because of how decadent and rich it is between its outlandish concepts and its overwhelming execution.
Or in other words, I think this Scenario is indeed one of the good ones. But does that mean this Scenario is bereft of problems? Oh, hell no. The pacing of the introduction is… weird, it bombards the reader with a few too many questions early on, there’s a 99% chance it will never be fully completed and its questions will never be answered, and the translation is sloppy in places. Not that I blame the writer, as English is not his native language.
Trust me, there are a lot of nitpicks I could make with this Scenario, but I don’t care. I’m still wallowing in the afterglow of this Scenario and wishing that its writer had the free time needed to continue providing regular updates. However, on its own and ignoring any promise of future updates, I am happy and content with what was delivered here, and this Scenario has definitely earned its spot in my all-time favorites. Hell, it might even be my actual favorite.
Scrambled by ThanosSnap – Download – Flowchart – Version 4.X Compatible
Scrambled picks up from one of the innumerous incomplete tendrils of the base game, namely the Circe route where John chooses the “I wished that things were more interesting.” option. Which was most likely put there for some writer who wanted to go carte blanche with demonic and otherwise magical absurdity. And that is… kind of what ThanosSnap did here. Instead of doing something more overt or outlandish, Scrambled follows John throughout a seemingly humdrum day before he accidentally bumps into someone and causes a chain reaction of body swaps, switching around the bodies of most named students.
From here, the story veers into John spending the night as Tara, a character from C.R.E.A.M.’s Scenario Never. I’m not sure why ThanosSnap decided to use this character in this story, especially when he makes several creative liberties to her life, background, and her relationship with her mother. But it also does not really matter because, shortly after this brief excursion, the Scenario more or less discards the whole mass swap angle, and proceeds to become something completely different.
After doing some snooping around, John discovers that the underutilized Michelle has taken hold of his body, learned of his magical powers, and intends on using them to dominate the world. Which kicks off what could be considered its own sub-route where John is in Michelle’s body and must fight against the constraints put onto his mind in order to ally with Circe and an angel character to fight against Michelle and her growing army of demons.
I had to explain all of that in detail in order to properly express just what this Scenario is and… I don’t understand what the creator was going for here. It reads like a mashup of ideas and concepts the writer had floating around their head, but they are not executed particularly well, nor do they flow from one another in a cohesive manner. There are indeed some concepts I would like to see expanded upon more, though I don’t think this writer has the skills to bring them through fruition.
I feel kind of bad being so dismissive regarding the skill of another writer like that, but in this Scenario’s TFGamesSite thread, ThanosSnap admits that they are “not much of a writer,” and that is incredibly clear when reading the script they prepared. It is not awful, but ThanosSnap’s grasp of grammar and attention to detail leave a lot to be desired. It’s not as stilted like something from an ESL writer, it’s just sloppy like a rough draft of something that somebody wrote quickly a quarter before midnight and forgot to proofread. I understand that writing is hard for some people, but if you are going to release something that is heavily reliant on your writing skills, you should probably run it through a basic Google Docs or Microsoft Word grammar editor. And if you really are not sure about your writing quality, perhaps ask somebody to look it over for you instead.
Also, this Scenario is not fully compatible with Version 5.2 of Student Transfer because of an issue regarding how a morph sequence is coded. It looks fine to me, but the V5 does not like it for some reason. If I were more inclined, I would probably dig deeper into this bug, but I don’t think this Scenario is truly worth that extra effort. Besides, you can technically progress past the morph command error that shows up. The only difference is that one character does not have a visible sprite, and they leave the story five minutes after they appear, so it’s not much of a loss.
Now, I wanted to tackle a few more Scenarios with this post, but it has taken me over a month to get through this sample, so I’m going to have to cut things off here and now. However, I will be back sometime in Q2, and I already have a preliminary list of Scenarios that I’m probably going to cover:
Backtracking by ChoripanKiller
Eman Looc’s Possession Scroll by Darknost
Family Swap by Monsterslots
He’s All That by Theokgatsby
In Praise of Being by Clavietika
Katrina the Statue by ChocMint
Kwumpus Hunt by 4is111
Sayaka Possession by wolflegs
The Principal by Omen064
Truth or Syn by the7saint7
As always, feel free to throw me recommendations in the comments, as it’s easy for me to lose track or forget about Scenarios unless I add them to my list.
In the meantime, here is an animation test done by Adamdead when he was still getting to grips with animating in Student Transfer. It is amazing, and I wish all visual novels had the drive and dev time to try looking even a fraction as fly as this.