Let the good times roll on, and on, and on indefinitely.
Seeing as how Student Transfer is easily the most popular topic on this quaint little site, or at least that’s what my statistics tell me, I’ve started going through and explore a number of its fan-created Scenarios. Yes, in addition to featuring an expansive main game filled with collaboratively crafted exploits involving TG, body swapping, mind control, transformation, possession, and more, Student Transfer also boasts a robust scene where fans create their own unique storylines using new or established characters. I already did Part 1 last month, and this will serve as the second sample of the, last I checked, over 70 Scenarios available for this project.
Student Transfer Scenario Reviews – Part 2
Platforms: PC(Reviewed), Mac, Linux, Android
Before beginning, I would like to clarify several things. Firstly, while I am calling this post a review, that is mostly for the sake of convenience and uniformity, as this is not meant to be a formal assessment of any of these Scenarios, and I in no way mean to discredit or discourage the amount of time and effort these people put into their work. Secondly, all of these Scenarios either come pre-installed with recent versions of Student Transfer or come from the tfgames.site forums, which require an account to access. But for those who do not want to go through the hassle, I have provided direct download links from the Scenario writer. Thirdly, Scenarios for Student Transfer are all over the place with regards to compatibility, and while things have gotten better with the release of Version 4.4 last week, it’s still a bit messy.
Fourthly, all of these Scenarios are very much non-canon, and have no relevance to the main game. Yes, the game is an open collaborative effort, but these projects are developed beyond the control of the existing dev team. Fifthly, I am a crazy person, so I went and made flowcharts for every Scenario I cover in this post, even the ones that don’t really need them. Sixthly, I am going to jump right into the Scenarios themselves and assume you are familiar with Student Transfer. 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 spiffy new official Student Transfer website.
Odds and Ends by Vuanaunt – Download
This is a bit of an odd (pun intended) place to begin things, with a Scenario from a retired dev member that was originally written to get away from the labyrinthine mesh that is the Antics route in the base game and cram something out in a frantic weekend of coding and writing. What they came up with is a loose interpretation of existing canon that divorces John of all his standing social relationships, casting him as something of a bitter isolationist college student whose social interactions are limited to his school’s literature club. A club that is incidentally led by Yoko, a promiscuous young woman who sees John as something of a pet project to groom and work on by using a mixture of temporary personality changes and body swaps to broaden his horizons… and mess with him for funsies.
What ensues is a series of compelling character dynamics between the two as their tense relationship changes, which chaos brimming once other club members are introduced, setting the stage for a very promising storyline, only for things to kind of stop because there’s only so much one can write in 56 hours. It’s certainly an interesting little Scenario with fun characters, nifty ideas, and a clear desire to shape up the core elements that are seen throughout the base game, yet it is rough in a few spots and does not really amount to much beyond a casual reveal of how and why this is all happening. While Vuanaunt did state they plan to continue this Scenario, that was about a year ago, and seeing as how they retired from the Student Transfer dev team, it’s not clear if they still plan on fleshing this side project out. Which is unfortunate, but at least the Scenario is enjoyable in its current form.
Osmosis: The Story of a Mistake by Westinghouse – Download – Flowchart
Of all the Student Transfer Scenarios I’ve covered thus far, I think Osmosis offers simultaneously the most outlandish and intriguing premise of the bunch, being cast as a sort of alternate timeline take on Student Transfer where John Davis and Kyoko Hano had their lives, bodies, and minds consolidated into a new person by the name of Hickory Davis. A demigirl who is one part John, one part Kyoko, and one part original character, which results in them being a curious, intelligent, and level headed individual with some stray bouts of youthful impulse. From the onset, the story parallels day 1 of the base game, clearly illustrating this new character’s history, tendencies, and signs that something may be horrifically wrong with their life or greater existence, with regularly placed points of intrigue sliced throughout.
The story as a whole comes off as incredibly deliberate, with the writer very clearly having a vivid idea of what this Scenario should offer, what uncommon elements they want to include in it, and while the current build only fleshes out a few routes and sees a single bad end, the level of detail and forethought put into all of them is remarkable. You levy mind control, and Osmosis delivers locked off memories that limit Hickory’s awareness of how just how strange their very existence is, only for this constructed reality to give way to stray undisrupted memories that seep into Hickory’s subconsciousness as they dream. You levy transformation and Osmosis delivers a storyline centered around an unintended stint into trans-humanism in a move that truly does question the limitations of reality, and resurfaces dormant fears that Hickory believed themselves to have outgrown.
The level of detail and dedication further extends to the presentation itself, as the writer is more than willing to introduce new visual elements, modify CGs, introduce new characters, and modify them exclusively for an extended and immensely intriguing premature bad end. Ultimately I found the Scenario to be wonderful, offering a discernibly different take on things while retaining much of what, I think, other people like about Student Transfer, and showing a clear love for a more… nuanced exploration of the subject matter it boasts.
The only grievances I could offer come from how branching this Scenario could become, which is strictly from the perspective of a flowchart maker, and Hickory’s tendency to pontificate to themselves using uncommon terminology that I routinely had to reference while playing. I can appreciate a colorful vernacular, but some of Hickory’s terminology makes them come off as more of a smart-aleck than an intellectual.
Also, the Osmantheus spin-off Scenario is pretty rad, merging the lives and minds of John and Sayaka into a pompous asshole who casually carries a basket full of distilled trauma everywhere they go. Shame it’s only a 9 minute long April Fools goof as of now. And shame on me for bad timing, as 15 hours prior to this post’s publication, Westinghouse put out an update that brought assorted bugfixes and also pants. Pants!
Priestess of Chronos by TaleSpinner – Download – Flowchart
Student Transfer is a game largely made of repurposed and borrowed visual novel assets, so it really is not surprising that fans have started porting in their own assets from other than visual novels, resulting in a number of asset packs meant to introduce additional characters into the game. Or in the case of the Age Regression and Age Progression Character Pack by sinwave93, introduce younger or older renditions of select characters into the game. While many have incorporates bits and pieces of these packs to flesh out their Scenarios with more original characters, TaleSpinner seemingly looked over this vast selection of alternate age versions of familiar characters and sought to make a Scenario that used as many of these sprites as possible.
The story proper begins as John is contacted by the Greek god of time, Chronos, who transforms his body and gives him the power to rewind, slow, pause, and generally manipulate time, which he mostly uses to turn children into adults and vice versa. What TaleSpinner came up with from this broad premise is rather insane and, well, they openly claim that the current build is more of a rough draft than anything, and that’s certainly an apt description. This Scenario is rife with obvious grammatical and capitalization errors, does not appear to have been proofread in certain spots, and basically everything from the story construction, world-building, and character execution have a rushed, frantic, and overall messy quality to them. All of which is only undermined by the creativity apparent across the currently available routes.
There are no limits, no restrictions, and only a passing level of concern expressed towards the moral or functional implications of the return of mythicized deities or this hyperbolic manipulation of time, age, and everything between. The writer just looks at the stars, says they’re gonna go out and do it, and they just go, blazing recklessly onward toward whatever concept captivates them.
I can only imagine their thought process going something akin to the following: “Aight, so we got ourselves a loli slumber party, but bunk that, Imma go make John and Holly and Jess get drunk as skunks. Yo Tori’s a cool cat, but what if I give her personality a 180 by turning her into a toddler and fragmenting her perception of self. Hey, what if I get John drunk again, but they bonk things up like a big beluga and they have the chance to turn things back? ‘Cos this Chronos dude is kinda a jerk, so I think he’d jump John back to their zygote days so they can min-max all of this shaz. Otherwise? Um… Setsuna has soul magic now! Yo, what if John went on a bender for a couple months or years and wound up losing contact with everybody they loved and became an adopted member of their own family? How do I justify that? God works in mysterious ways? Yeah, that’s the good ish, man! Hol’ up a minute, I just played The Heaven We Were Promised and that was pretty dope. Imma use Kanade for a route because I can!”
Conceptually, I love just about everything the writer is doing here. But in execution, everything can, and probably should be done better. So much of this Scenario reads like a stream of consciousness, developed with a lack of forethought, planning, or great attention to detail. And for as much as I admire what the writer has left in this brazen pursuit of intriguing concepts, I regularly had to stop, recontextualize just what was going on, and then shakily progress onwards. I think that with a bit more restraint and a desire to delve into the concepts introduced here further, TaleSpinner could produce a truly excellent Scenario. Because in its current state… let’s just say that I have a page of notes I took about this Scenario, and most of them are me pointing out mistakes or narrative missteps. I mean, that entire Kanade stint is just… borderline nonsensical with how it flows.
Strange Sunday by luckysquid – Download – Flowchart
This Scenario kicks off when a well-intentioned wish in reinterpreted by Crice, the go-to character for impulsive magically defined mayhem, who switches around the role of John and his mother Sandra, thrusting John into the life of an adult woman and high school Japanese teacher and turning Sandra into a teenage girl once again. A process that naturally causes the two a deluge of grief, especially on account of mental blocks placed before them preventing them from directly sharing the truth, and the deluge of memories assaulting their minds, steadily acclimating them to this new reality.
Ordinarily, this type of story would follow John/Jane as they try to find a loophole and retain their sense of self, instead the protagonist torch goes to Yui, best friend of Sandra in this new reality, who steadily begins to gather through an elaborate game of charades that something is incredibly amiss with her friend and Japanese teacher. Only for the solution to this problem to be pleasantly simple and doable, requiring them to bide their time and live out their days in this revamped reality and become accustomed to a new normal. Which is conveyed through a scattering of smaller scenes depicting the days in the new lives of these characters.
It’s certainly a cute little idea that is taken to its logical conclusion with a branching assortment of endings, wrapping up the concept expediently, and putting a nice spin on the approach to mental manipulation seen throughout the base game and many Scenarios. For as much as I admire the ambition seen in a lot of these other Scenarios, there is something pleasant about a short and sweet story like this. Though I would be lying if I said that I wouldn’t have appreciated a bit more detail or insights into the day to day lives of these characters… and a second proofreading of the script.
But it appears that this Scenario has been left to sit as it were. As was pointed out to me after this post’s publication, this scenario actually served as a break for luckysquid, who is a member of the dev team who was, and currently is, working on the MemSwap route, which is at least somewhat appropriate. I originally implied they got their start with Strange Sunday, as I could not access older project activity, on account of the dev team switching to a new Git back in 2018. My bad!
The Festival by ChoripanKiller – Download – Flowchart
Note: At the time of this review’s publication The Festival was incompatible with Version 4.X of Student Transfer. Since then the Scenario has been updated, making it Version 4.5 compatible.
Given how Student Transfer’s base game is so fixated around a singular framing device and a designated common route, sometimes writers are privy to explore how things could differ if the overall set-up was changed around a little bit. Which is precisely the case with the Festival, a Scenario, predictably, centered around a hybridized culture and summer festival wherein John, his K-buds, and a scattering of familiar faces volunteer to aid the school in preparing the school for the festivities, only for John to stumble upon a strange device known as MIDAS. Which is basically the remote everybody knows by now, except with far more grounded origins that becomes apparent following a series of body swapping shenanigans.
You have your gradual identity death where characters need to fight against their natural impulses and reclaim control of a body they have been thrust into. More impulsive tangent routes wherein John gets into assorted unfavorable scrambles without any truly dire stakes. A side-path that explores dynamics between John and an underutilized character from the base game via, what else, body swapping. A marvelous misadventure wherein John befriends the “greatest detective in the world”. And a plethora of other paths wherein John and company narrowly fend off against the forces responsible for the creation of this world-changing doohickey, but not without incurring some damage, as it makes things more dramatic.
The tone and sensibilities are very much in-line with what is seen in the main game, offering something different conceptually, yet familiar in execution, and generally well devised. The tonal diversity is appreciated, the branching paths make the story come off as layered and more intricate, and the core mystery permeating throughout the Scenario is a compelling one. The presentation is crafted with care, with the author going above and beyond when it comes to some of the more recent content, and really the only point of contention I could bring up to this Scenario is it’s writing.
Choripan is not a native English speaker, and that fact is very apparent during the introductory segments of this game, which are littered with minor grammatical, structural, and spelling errors. However, his grasp on the language improves dramatically in more recent content, with content in the latest May 2019 update showing a strong grasp on the language. It’s unfortunate that he has yet to go back and revise much of the early content seen in this Scenario, and reworked its clunky dialog into something more enticing, but I can only assume that between updating this Scenario and working on the MaidSwap route of the base game, he has a lot on his plate, and would rather create than revise. A sentiment that I really am in no place to criticize considering how slapdash my editing tends to be.
The Gift of Switching by mbrad – Download – Flowchart
In case I haven’t made it obvious by now, one of the things that I love so much about these Scenarios is the level of variety and creativity on display, with so many people flexing their creative muscles and crafting stories that, while not always brilliant, are at least interesting and have a unique concept behind them. But there is also something to be said about a more open-ended and back to basics body swapping shenanigans between John and the K-buds where things can easily spiral out of control or down unprecedented and captivating avenues. Unfortunately, that isn’t exactly what The Gift of Switching offers.
I really do hate being so negative towards something like this, yet I honestly had to force myself to get through this Scenario, as I found it to be particularly disinteresting, basic in a lot of respects, and generally unenjoyable in what it does. Characters have been reworked to fit the author’s needs, resulting in a number of personality and relationship changes that just come across as jarring at this point. Everybody is kind of stupid. Nobody is a well rounded or complex character. And the Scenario as a whole does little to truly sell the body swap experience, offering some passive acknowledgment about certain details of the bodies the protagonists switch into, but most of anyone’s attention is placed squarely on the surface level stuff. What’s in their pants or on their chest, how women feel weak and men feel strong, how adults are tired and children are energetic, that boobs are life, et cetera.
As somebody who has dived deep into TG Media in the past, I cannot help but find what the author delivers here to be antiquated, riddled with cliches, and generally devoid of many compelling ideas beyond the decision to focus on multiple potential protagonists, which really does not amount to much. It’s a blasé body swapping exposé with little to prove, state, or demonstrate that nevertheless goes on and on, without doing much other than reminding me of lesser TG fiction I’ve encountered in my travels. Also, the presentation for much of this Scenario is spartan, only flipping around character expressions when the creator fancied, making many sections largely static affairs. Though they did included some music, so that’s a plus.
Seeing all of this actually got me curious, so I did a bit of digging and discovered that the writer of this Scenario, mbrad, is the person behind The Swapping Grounds, a long-standing TG Caption site with a factory-esque output. A discovery that surprised me, as I would have assumed that between pushing out formulaic and limited captions, mbrad would be positively thrilled to jump into something a bit more elaborate. But… I guess not.
Wishful Thinking by XBP – Download – Flowchart
Wishful Thinking passes the protagonist torch to Marty, the new kid at Tina Koya high and overall chill fellow who begins this Scenario by getting his bearings at the new school, meeting up with a swarm of familiar faces, and quickly adapting to this new routine. All before returning home only to be visited by an equally familiar demon who fulfills a hushed and secretive wish of his, that of experiencing what it is like to be another person. Or in other words, he gets the ability to swap bodies, and is tasked with using this newfound power, along with the acting skills he developed in drama club, to make the most of the following day of school. Thus leading to a very open Scenario that is structurally similar to day 2 of the device/alien/remote route of base game, offering Marty a number of opportunities to ditch his old life behind in favor of experiencing something new, at least for a little while.
What does the writer do with this foundation? Well, unfortunately, they went with more of a foundational approach, developing a lengthy intro and 6 core paths, but only one of these paths is extended beyond a single period. So while the numerous premises evoked by the writer are compelling, there really is not a whole lot of non-foundational substance to go around. Though, there certainly were a lot of little things that I liked.
Marty makes for a considerably more confident protagonist capable of truly living as somebody else, yet is still a respectable and reserved individual, staying true to his humble desires to see what it is like to live as someone else, rather than take advantage of their bodies. The returning cast is well portrayed, treating Marty with a degree of appropriate hesitation while keeping their core personalities intact. The presentation is detailed, showing that the writer is committed to making this Scenario look as good as it can, even going to bring in a few custom effects for good measure. While the storylines themselves all begin with a clear vision and purpose that I quickly took to. Whether they be more impulsive affairs wherein Marty rushes to pursue his desires to live as other people, uses his power selflessly to aid his friends and grow far closer to them in a surprisingly short amount of time, or delays the inevitable and get sacked with a particularly thorough and cruel breed of identity death.
I would comment about how I hope the writer is able to grow from this promising and ultimately entertaining foundation into something fuller, but in March 2019 the project was suspended as XBP joined the dev team, wishing to work on something bigger than a Scenario that would only be discovered by the more dedicated members of a niche game’s community. I have no clue what they are working on at the moment since they haven’t contributed anything to the Git so far, but I’m sure they’ll deliver something lovely by the time V5 rolls around.
Tina Koya Quest by PaintedNecroz – Download
So fans, and I guess developers too since half these Scenarios came from current or former dev team members, have not only gone out and created their own expanded explorations of the themes, characters, and concepts seen throughout Student Transfer, but one particular enthusiast went and made an RPG Maker game based on the title. Because why not, I suppose.
Tina Koya Quest follows John as he is isekai’d from his humdrum life and put into a fantastical realm along with all the Tina Koya usuals, where he is granted magical powers and sets off to find those who have become lost in this brave new world. All of which is played with a narrative lightness that is only really delved into on occasion, while the bulk of the game, or at least my 7 hours with it, were spent indulging in the RPG gameplay, rather than having a story unfold. On that note, how is TKQ as an RPG? Well… I am no aficionado with the genre, though I am familiar enough to have a very long list of design-related questions for its developer, as the game in its current form is most… perplexing.
Party members are scattered throughout the world, which is informally gated off and only meant to be accessed at certain intervals, yet for some reason, they are all level 1 when recruited. While the game attempts to remedy this through the implementation of a passive EXP system extending to all characters, there really is little reason to change up one’s main party so long as they are capable of efficiently handling most threats, unless the characters are either statistically better, have abilities that make them more valuable, or are enjoyably different. But instead of any of these approaches, everybody is kind of limited in their own special way, with just about everybody missing something to make them feel exceptionally useful. This alone would complicate party-building enough, but even if the player wants to actively indulge in experimentation, they will need to overcome the imposing hurdle that is money.
In short, everything is stupidly expensive based in comparison to the amount of money earned from battles and the amount of time the battles take. Grinding is an alternative, as there is nothing stopping the player from smashing it out to make their numbers bigger, yet it is only an attractive alternative when the battle system is especially enjoyable. Unfortunately, largely due to the limitations present in RPG Maker, or at least its more modern iterations, I cannot say that I found most battles to be anything more than a procedural affair after a point, and feel that they near-universally go on for too long. Especially when up against enemies with assorted resistances to certain attack types. Some of which are clear and sensible, but other times water elementals are immune to electricity, because why would you ever use Thundaga on Kraken or Cagnazzo? That’s positively preposterous.
Then there are the maps, which tend to be laid out in a reasonable manner, yet their scale is so large that it can hinder navigation, and as somebody who grew up spending days looking at the maps for Final Fantasy, Dragon Quest, and Pokemon games, internalizing the idealized routes through assorted dungeons, they just don’t sit right with me. In fact, that sentiment could be applied to basically everything about the design. The decision to build up the party so rapidly, to pace random encounters this way, and to pay tribute to a narratively heavy title with a story that only pops up on occasion. Is the goal here to provide enticing gameplay or to tell a story that would be better served in the more involved format of an RPG?
While I may be a bit overly critical with my assessment, I do admire the developer for taking on a project like this. Unfortunately, what is available here is rather rough, evokes many of the shortcomings found in a wide number of enthusiast-made RPG Maker games, and generally speaking, wasn’t all that fun to go through. I think the title has potential, and with some reworking, remapping, expansion, and re-balancing, it could become a genuinely enjoyable little RPG. However, in its current form, it’s more than a little rough around the edges. Yeah, sorry for being harsh here, PaintedNercoz. You wanted me to check this out, I did, and I’m offering my honest thoughts.
Alright, I think that about does it for this installment. I, naturally, still haven’t gone through everything, or everything good. I still have quite a several more Scenarios on my radar, such as Harem, Library Antics, Mirror, Mirror, Never, Stone to the Head, When Worlds Collide, and Yui Spellbook. But I am going to have to save those for part 3, which should be out sometime this October. In the meantime, feel free to recommend me more Scenarios and help me build a list long enough that I can keep doing this… basically indefinitely.
Also, in looking up information and outdated asset packs for this review, I stumbled upon this… thing, and I must share it with you all. Enjoy!