New year, new Scenarios, and a whole smorgasbord of new possibilities
Student Transfer is an expansive visual novel comprised of collaboratively crafted exploits involving TG, body swapping, mind control, transformation, possession, and more, culminating in a persistent juggernaut that has only grown and expanded since its original release in 2015, expanding into a 600,000 word visual novel as of 2019’s release of Version 4.0. However, that is certainly not the end all be all for this ambitious little project, as Student Transfer also happens to boast a lively community of fan-created Scenarios. And after having put out Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3 in this prolonged series of staggered reviews, it’s time to continue things with Part 4!
Student Transfer Scenario Reviews – Part 4
Platforms: PC(Reviewed), Mac, Linux, Android
Before jumping into the reviews proper, I should probably clarify a number of 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, with certain Scenarios only working with certain builds. For most of the Scenarios covered, I used the latest build, Version 4.6, but for The K-Files and Witches and Warlocks, I had to use the legacy build, Version 3.1.
Fourthly, all of 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. Fifthly, I am a crazy person, so I went and made flowcharts for every Scenario I covered in this post, even the ones that don’t really need them (well, except for one). Sixthly, 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! Seventhly, 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 official Student Transfer website.
Body Thief by KawaiiSwitcher – Download – Character Pack – Flowchart
Starting things off, we have quite the odd one. Body Thief centers around a fantastical reinterpretation of Student Transfer that bestows the familiar faces of Tina Koya High with assorted mental and transformative abilities, setting the stage for a rather ambitious adventure that begins with John being nudged by Circe from the Fate series to steal the body of Zoey. A change that sets off a series of burgeoning intertwining storylines that flood the first day in nebulous details pertaining to others with supernatural abilities, before culminating in a second day where the story proceeds to get completely bonkers. Mostly due to Zoey, who gains the ability to turn others into affectionate peons. A powerful trait that she naturally used to have Kiyoshi plow her in the bum, that is to say, John’s bum, in the boy’s restroom.
From there, the story begins to unravel into a ploy by a vast number of characters as they try to manage this unprecedented situation, either to their own advantage or otherwise, before things peter off on a bizarre note that introduces time travel and… just kind of stopping from there. It’s certainly a set up with more than a spark of ingenuity, but despite the aspirations of the developer, it honestly reads like a compilation of half-formed ideas without a firm narrative base to fall back on, and writing that leaves something to be desired. None of which is bad, it simply falls into the camp of scenarios written by creators who I doubt had a clear plan for how the story would progress, rather than a stream of disassociated ideas.
I also feel the need to object to how the writer handled the whole spontaneous relationship between Zoey (in John’s body) and Kiyoshi, which has a number of characters make incredibly rude and mean spirited comments that can be read as homophobic, or generally ignorant. Phila calls the two pedophiles, Yui calls their act of public indecency adultery, and Kiyoshi comments how the society he and ‘John’ live in does not accept gay relationships. All of which rings as especially… wrong, seeing as how this is a contemporary story set in San Fransokyo, the writer knows that the story is set in San Fransokyo, and San Fransokyo should be gay as heck.
Now, that would about cover it… if not for the fact that Body Thief is actually two Scenarios in one, and the other half is a crossover with the immensely popular Fate series, dubbed Fate/Grand Transfer. As somebody who hasn’t played Fate/Stay Night (I’m still waiting for an official English release), seen any of the anime series, or played any of the games, I have no idea how accurate or respectful this story is to the source material. Though it appears to have a well-regarded reverence for it, incorporating sprites, CGs, voice clips, and even anime footage from the series, while being positively drenched in terminology, characters, and references to the series. So much so that I eventually became lost as to the hows, whats, and whys that dictate this story, and simply began nodding my head to the narrative beats, rather than understanding the composition. Which, incidentally, is completely legible, but remains rather rough, featuring a lot of repetitive wording, improper tense, and an instance on using whilst instead of while.
I could incessantly criticize this Scenario for being a perplexing tale of time travel, super-powered battles, vague references to historical and literary figures, John acting as a body stealing antagonist hellbent on destroying the world, and barely having anything to do with Student Transfer. Like, at all. However, through all the hot-blooded actions, the fanfictiony furor, and the sheer dedication put into the presentation of it all, I found myself thoroughly enjoying what KawaiiSwitcher put together here.
Christmas in ST by Applemelon – Download – Flowchart
While this isn’t the best time to cover a holiday-themed Scenario, I honestly cannot think of when exactly would be the best time, unless I were to plan one of these posts for December… which I don’t really plan on doing. Anyhow, because Yui Spellbook writer and ZOEYQUEST maker Applemelon is an individual as eccentric as he is talented, he decided to make an ongoing annual Scenario following John as he is subjected to Christmas themed shenanigans involving a visit from Santa and his harem, plane crashes, Christmas ghosts, and obviously some TG, because what’s even the point of making an ST Scenario unless John becomes a girl at some point?
It all makes for a light, funny, and generally festive Scenario that takes a more playful approach with its characters and situations, delivering something that, on the merits of its writing alone, would be well worth checking out. But in addition to prolonging the story with a new chapter released in 2019 and providing a number of unique Christmas-y assets, Applemelon has proven himself to be among the more ambitious Scenario creators because he went and turned Student Transfer into a goldarn point and click adventure game. Admittedly a rather basic one, but it is nevertheless a great display of his continued passion for the source material, going all out even on what was meant to be a limited release joke Scenario.
Escape the Manor by Narg – Download – Flowchart
While I have historically called Student Transfer a “choose your own adventure style visual novel,” I mean that in the sense that the game is expansive, filled with branching paths, and dozens of potential endings to uncover throughout routes that vary wildly in content, tone, and characters. To me, the joy of playing the game is the content of the routes, rather than the choices themselves, or seeing just how one’s decisions result in a wide spectrum of different outcomes. Yet several Scenario writers evidently disagree with me on that concept, as Scenarios like Always Get The Warranty and When Worlds Collide indicate, offering a buffet of options, ideas, and ambitions but little in the way of substance. Which, unfortunately, is the same rut that Escape the Manor falls into.
The Scenario follows a group of individuals who find themselves stranded along the road, unable to call for help, and subjected to the elements, causing them to seek refuge in a luxurious manor located in the middle of nowhere, where they are promptly offered lodging and hospitality. All of which is naturally a facade of sorts that places protagonist Kazuto in a precarious predicament where he must find a way to escape the manor with both his mind and body intact, lest he becomes a servant to the magically adept masters of this manor. A fine starting point for a tale of mystery that has the protagonist stumble across myriad magical minutiae, but the execution of it all is… lacking.
The background of the antagonists, the description and context of the transformation, the process of mentally erasing a person’s identity, the plotlines and characters that only exist in isolated offshoots of the Scenario. It has no shortage of creativity, yet rather than digging its heels in, exploring the great ramifications of these ideas, and doing a deep dive into any of the subjects it brings it, the Scenario only dips its toes into a story concept before diving directly into something entirely different. Across 43 endings is a story that can be gone through in roughly 5 hours, with no time being afforded to most routes, and far too often things conclude right as they are about to get interesting.
Whatever quality there is to unravel here, and there is quite a bit, is suffocated through its structure, lacking the necessary room to breathe and blossom, thus resulting in a series of rapid-fire ideas that die as soon as they are plucked, failing to leave much of a lasting impact. This is a Scenario that has Kazuto become a deity, a slime girl, an isekai’d adventure girl, a succubus, a different succubus, the harbinger of a mind control apocalypse, and an elf concubine. But I forgot about most of that a few days after I finished the Scenario because it all came and went so goldarn fast.
Help Me Be Happy by JeffCharFlame – Download – Flowchart
Before getting into this Scenario, I should say that it was abandoned in 2017, and does not natively work with versions newer than 2.2. However, I was able to update the Scenario to run in Version 4.6 by creating a scenario.json file, changing the ‘none’ outfits to ‘nude’, and updating the custom sound effect file’s code. You can find my updated version of this Scenario here.
Anyhow, Help Me Be Happy is a quaint little thing that is set in a sort of bizarro parallel version of the familiar Student Transfer universe that appropriates certain characters while playing with entirely new ones, such as the main character Jeff. A young man with lightly detailed paranoia, social, and persistent mental issues, who thankfully has a good support network between his family and friends, but is still regularly filled with a sense of unrest in his daily life. An unrest that has largely remained in check, but is questioned when Jeff’s definition of what is possible changes dramatically when one of his friends brings a familiar alien remote to school.
What ensues is the beginnings of a story that details Jeff’s dissatisfaction with their male body, a desire to be freed from the mental strain and worry that wrack his mind on a daily basis, and generally trying to attain a reliable source of happiness. A story that I found to be rather enjoyable, possessing a very light and comforting tone that focuses on a character simply trying to satiate their desires and attain happiness without hurting anyone.
After going through the introduction and lightly detailed route where Jeff swaps bodies with his friend Tessa, I was thinking that I was in for a treat… but then I got to the route where Jeff changes their sex. It is here where the ultimate goals and objectives of the writer become muddled and confused while Jeff’s actions proceed to almost contradict each other, with his characterization and goals bopping around sporadically. One moment Jeff seems like an openly transgender character who is using the power of the remote to fulfill their internalized fantasy regardless of the opposition. The next they are talking about how they want to be someone else entirely. And then they drop all of these previous notions of being female, choosing to instead befriend a girl they ran into, quite literally, at a mall, despite being the sort of person to shy away from new people.
It all comes across as a mesh of indecisive ideas and concepts that were built upon each other without a clear end goal for the narrative. A narrative that is comprised through writing that often comes across as clunky or in need of further proofreading, a lack of detail pertaining to the source of Jeff’s unrest with his person, his mental disability, or his fascination with the female body, and friends who honestly come across as a bit too loving and supporting.
There is indeed something to Help Me be Happy. It appeals to my sensibilities as a trans autistic weirdo, reminds me a lot of a scrapped story that I was doing pre-production on back in 2014, and is free from external conflict, bitterness, and general worry, which is something of a rarity in most Scenarios. However, the story is what it is, it likely will not be updated, and all that I can definitively say about it is that it’s okay, I guess.
The K-Files by bricks – Download (via CobaltCore) – Flowchart – Version 3.1 Compatible
Whenever you have a contained universe of characters like Student Transfer, it is expected for fans to question how different things would be if certain events happened to different characters, what type of adventures they would get into, and how they would approach things. This is, at least to some extent, what The K-Files does, handing the mantle of protagonist and ownership of the alien remote, over to Kyoko.
Typically, as I have learned over time, this would have resulted in a writer applying the premise of ST but with Kyoko broadly across the game, developing an elaborate skeleton of potential storylines that, in all likelihood, will never be explored. However, The K-Files keeps its ambitions in check and instead delivers a brief single route story about Kyoko getting the remote, showing it to her friends, and then using it in a manner that would pique her interests. Investigating paranormal phenomena throughout the school with the aid of Kiyoshi and Katrina. Shenanigans ensue, ghosts are involved, and hi-jinks fill the halls of Tina Koya as the trio stumble into a dire mystery that can only be solved through their cunning, improvisational skills, and overall determination in the face of adversity.
There are a handful of minor misgivings I have with this Scenario, such as the lackluster reactions from John and Katrina, who are not especially interested in a remote that can rewrite minds and swap bodies. An anticlimax that, while clever conceptually, causes the proper story to end on something of a flat note. Along with a general lack of curiosity and scientific intrigue from Kyoko, who never actually uses the remote for herself. However, taking everything as a whole, it is a fun little side story that offers something discernibly different from the base game, uses the established characters well, and does precisely what it wanted to do in an efficient amount of time, while not leaving any petulant loose ends for me to stare at, wondering if the creator ever had anything planned for these routes.
Library Antics by ZeBeste – Download – Flowchart
Library Antics is a sort of follow-up to the Magic route from the base game, set a month after it, and following John as he continues his fairly unremarkable school life and the same issues that come from it. Namely dealing with the well-renowned scumbag and probable sexual predator, Jack Mallory, who sentences John to detention in the school library under the pretense that he will get some work done. This, naturally, does not happen, as there is more to this quaint set up than meets the eye, and things steadily blossom out of control. Demons are involved, identities are remodeled if not shattered, and a mechanical apparatus of undisclosed origin is introduced to keep things sufficiently spicy.
Conceptually, it has all the makings to be a reapplication of themes, concepts, and characters previously established in the main game, but presented in a different setting that allows for more unique situations, different character couplings, and, of course, transformations. All of which is indeed true about Library Antics, yet while its aspirations and ultimate goals are clear, the Scenario has a bit of a problem in actualizing these goals, getting past the preamble, prologue, and overall setup for its various semi-developed storylines.
When creating… really any form of media, it is important to retain the attention of your audience by introducing points of intrigue early on, or at least not force them to waddle their way through repetitions and redundancies to get to the ‘point’. Despite having a clear talent for writing, this is something ZeBeste struggles with, spending an incredible amount of the front half of this Scenario, going on these prolonged back and forward tirades between familiar characters. Needlessly reintroducing them, having them pick apart each other’s words, and taking an incredible amount of time to ask or answer fairly basic questions. It all made for a rather frustrating few hours that had me regularly moving away from the Scenario itself so I could muse about how I thought this was a bad storytelling approach, failing to properly hook the readers from the onset, or provide them with something considerably new.
At first, I was worried that I would need to brush this entire Scenario aside as being a load of Library Ped-antics, but then things finally started happening and… they ranged from good to genuinely wonderful. From deliberations over the impact of how one’s magically transformed body affects their mind as John finds himself slipping away from his identity. Jack finally getting his comeuppance for his vile behavior as he is reduced to a sobbing and dejected child completely and utterly mortified by his transgressions. Or John making stupid wishes to Circe that have glaring battleship sized holes in them that will obviously backfire in the most glorious manner possible.
It is here where the author’s more musing and methodical approach to writing also shines, clearly investing a lot of time and forethought into the situations and circumstances surrounding these characters. From their mental state gradually shifting to better match the body they inhabit, insights about the developing storylines, or general description of the bodily transformations they are subjected to. You know, the sort of stuff that the people who would seek out and play Student Transfer Scenarios, such as myself, are probably quite interested in.
This places Library Antics in something of an odd situation, as it can be a truly compelling Scenario filled with great concepts, lines, and character moments, but it also has an excess of fluff that bogs down much of the beginning, and certain tense moments of the story, making the Scenario as a whole rather lopsided and difficult to judge. Looking through the tfgames.site thread, I see that a lot of praise has been thrown towards this Scenario, so it is entirely possible that I am simply an impatient and insatiable individual. But as a writer, I still think the beginning of this Scenario is far too long and impairs the experience as a whole by being so… pedantic.
Witches and Warlocks by dukejones – Download – Version 3.1 Compatible
Witches and Warlocks is a rather ambitious reinterpretation and partial recreation of Student Transfer that begins as a slightly altered retread of day 0 and the early stages of the magic route, but steadily twists and morphs its way into something different both mechanically and narratively. What do I mean by that? Well, rather than being a sprawling visual novel driven by player choices that delivers story along dedicated routes, Witches and Warlocks is instead a life sim that tasks John with pursuing various character questlines, grinding up variables to meet designated thresholds, and going through both his life as a student and burgeoning wizard.
As for the narrative, it makes a number of changes to established characters, namely John’s family, certain classmates, and most especially his very own yandere stalker, who has been replaced by a witch that discovers John’s magical powers after they awaken, and becomes a sort of mentor for him after discovering his magical ancestry by rummaging about in his attic. All of which makes for a world that is often indistinguishable from the base game, and nicely captures the same tone, but most of these changes come across as more arbitrary than anything.
Do these changes amount to any interesting stories at the very least? Well… not really. In its current form, Witches and Warlocks does not have any even remotely complete routes, only featuring a completed beginning, the beginnings of a few routes, a tumbleweed of different scenes where John astrally projects himself to spy on Katrina, Setsuna, or his family, and a few idle conversations. Aside from that, there really is little meaningful or impactful story to indulge in, and what is there can be a bit tricky to find.
After completing the prologue section, the player is given what appears to be free reign over the next few days of John’s life, where they direct him to school, choose what he does afterwards, and react to randomly determined scenes or events while raising John’s magical aptitude by studying at the local library. By engaging in this process of stat grinding, John is able to make more progress in the somewhat intermingled questlines for Tori, Kyoko, and Patty, none of whom have particularly well-realized stories as of the last update, which was released in February 2018.
This nonlinear structure also made the Scenario more than a bit frustrating to play from the perspective of a flowchart maker, due to the myriad decisions it presents to the player, use of a day-night cycle, and occasionally throwing in repeated randomized scenes that themselves feature choices that affect unused variables. Between cycling through saves, digging through the code, and trying to figure out how this Scenario actually worked, I got pretty frustrated with it by the end and even gave up on the prospect of even trying to visualize this Scenario. Because even if I did make a branching web of different looping scenes or crafted a visual walkthrough, there isn’t anything the player can actually miss aside from some astral projection misadventures.
Do I think this makes the Scenario bad though? Well, no. The writing is consistently entertaining, nicely matching the tone and style of the base game, the new interactions are amusing, and I find the changes to be, at least conceptually, interesting. It’s just that in the developer’s attempt to create a life sim and revise the story and world to their liking, they neglected to flesh out whatever story they wanted to tell.
Now then, I think that about meets my quota for one of these things, and after… (10+7+5+7)… 29 reviews, I’d say that I made a more than a decent dent in the Scenarios backlog. There are, naturally, plenty of other Scenarios for me to check out next time around, such as A New Life, A.S.A.P., Empyrée, The Fate of Hannah Sterling, Popular, Ruin, Scenario Scenario, and SummerGals!. I am also anticipating another review of Never, that is once C.R.E.A.M. puts out another update, and I was originally going to check out Golden Lining by GarySavage in this review, but he deleted his Scenario on January 1st, 2020, despite it being showered with praise. That guy never seems to be satisfied with his work…
That’s what’s on my radar at the moment, but if any of you lovely readers have any Scenarios you want me to cover, please tell me down in the comments, and I’ll see you all next time.
When will that be? Well, I still plan on doing a review of Student Transfer, whether it be the base game or Scenarios, on a quarterly basis until I simply run out of quality Scenarios to cover. I actually pushed this review forward from its original Q2 release date because, looking over the Git, I had my doubts that Version 5 of ST would be ready by Q1 due to how many few writers are actively working on the project.