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I Restarted Animal Crossing New Horizons and Went on an Epic Worldbuilding Binge (part one)



Spoiler warning: this series will contain spoilers for the DuckTales reboot. Yes, really. It makes sense in context.


So one of the weirder things about my psyche is that when dealing with a creative effort that requires multiple pieces, I try to gather as many different pieces as possible, then practically keel over with decision paralysis immediately afterwards because I now have way too much stuff to choose from. That was one of my main reasons for restarting my Animal Crossing: New Horizons save file completely from scratch, because I wanted to try to build a new island from the ground up starting with the limited resources the game gave me initially instead of spending the literal millions of Bells I'd accrued from months', possibly years' worth of obsessive-compulsive hot item grinding while watching YouTube videos on my laptop. (I may not be as repentant on the subject as I'd prefer to be. Riches are fleeting and so are we, and nowhere is this made more clear than having your entire save file deleted.)

Going in to my new island, I had an idea in my mind as to what theme I wanted to run with, something that played to my personal tastes and fully embraced the anthro aspect of the game's villagers. Furry fantasy is my jam (so long as it's, well, not... look, we all know that kind of furry subculture is rampant and the less we speak of it the better), and the concept I eventually decided on was 'Redwall-core.' Stories like Redwall, Mistmantle, The Green Ember, medieval-era fantasies played out by furry actors. To quote S.D. Smith, 'rabbits with swords.'

Unfortunately, once I got onto my island and realized my village fruit was oranges, I realized that maybe the game was trying to tell me to aim for something a little more tropical in vibe. It didn't help that my first two villagers were Cherry the dog and Kody the bear cub, neither of which look very Redwall-core in the slightest. This did not deter me, and I named our new home "Koinonia," the Greek word for fellowship. If someone can literally make a desert fairycore island in ACNH (and as soon as I read that description the concept sold me), then I'm sure I can work something out.

On my first ACNH island, I had two player characters. The main file was Eureka, a name I've often used on the internet in the past, but the second was named Lena and modeled after the character from the DuckTales reboot, duck beak and all. (Yes, that is a real item you can buy in ACNH, although unfortunately you don't get to wear it while playing the Happy Home Paradise DLC because it breaks the company dress code.) Another reason I restarted my island was because it was too ungainly to split my attention between two save files, so for Koinonia, I decided to bring Lena back into the Animal Crossing universe, largely because if I can't have her in Disney Dreamlight Valley, then darn it, I'll have her in ACNH instead.

The map I chose for Koinonia had a river splitting the lowest layer into four different areas, including an island in the middle with a cliff as its northern wall. At some point I fully intend to move somebody's house into the middle of the island, I just don't know whose. If I decide to keep Cherry, she'll be a prime candidate, because her punk-goth vibes just scream 'creepy witch-like recluse' for some reason and it's likely entirely intentional. She wears a spiderweb dress, for Lupus's sake. Clear foreshadowing.

Lupus? Oh, right. That's an intentional reference. I've been reading Wolves of the Beyond recently, which is easily the most depressing 'children's series' I've ever read (A Series of Unfortunate Events included) and honestly I can't say I'd recommend Wolves to anyone, let alone actual kids. Despite this, I considered that Cherry's role in Koinonia could be similar to my favorite character in the series, the Sark of the Sough, a reclusive lone wolf that some regard as a witch but who doesn't actually believe in the supernatural. She's more of a herbalist than anything else. (What's a Sark? What's a Sough? Don't ask me, because I can't remember. The Ga'Hoole universe is full of odd words like that.)

Which leads into my plans for Koinonia. Among the animal fantasies I named as my inspirations for the island, my favorite is probably Mistmantle for several reasons, not the least of which is that unlike many animal fantasies, it doesn't actively rely on the 'herbivores good, predators bad' stereotypes common in the genre to drive its conflict. (Well, maybe in the fourth book, where the ravens are the enemies, but not in the first three books.) When the heroes and villains aren't determined by species, and anyone might be an ally or enemy, it opens the doors for more intrigue, as the heroes don't always know who they can and can't trust. Making Cherry into Koinonia's 'Sark of the Sough' equivalent -- a character that feels suspicious on the outside but might not be evil at all -- could work well in establishing that not everything is as it seems in this world. The other villagers call her Black Cherry. (I hope I get cherries as a secondary fruit so I can plant them around her house.)

It's kind of a shame that I missed cherry blossom season, but my autistic mind refuses to resort to time travel trickery because that is not how my brain works deal with it. Rules exist to keep order, and I have enough chaos in my life without constantly having to reset my Switch calendar just to farm a few recipes. I'm playing by the rules, and I am gonna like it.

Since this is a video game where the only true 'enemies' are a shady art dealer and a few rogue bugs (and possibly capitalism, depending on your perspective), I'll have to invent most of the drama myself. Given that Koinonia has four different areas marked off by the river -- one of which is Cherry's island -- perhaps my villagers will be divided into different clans living in each area. Who these clans will be composed of and what their respective societies will be like will largely depend on what villagers I get and what sorts of decorations I manage to gather for them. I'm not planning on hunting for specific villagers (as much as I want Ione, it's probably never gonna happen), but I will be somewhat selective on who my final ten will be in keeping with Koinonia's theme... and in hindsight, I just realized how super ironic that name is.

So that's where Lena comes in, having been yeeted to this strange new world by one of Magica's spells in an attempt to be rid of her once and for all. (Originally my idea was one of Launchpad's plane crashes, but that led to the dark question of why Lena's the only one who made it out alive, and I didn't want to go there. Poor girl's been through enough trauma already.) But even as Lena tries to find a way back to Duckburg, will she be able to unite the tribes with the magic power of friendship and restore Koinonia's namesake?

(Yes, the magic power of friendship is a real thing in the DuckTales universe that Lena is able to use. I am fully aware of how cheesy that sounds, and while I can't actually say I don't care in the slightest, I only really care a little because I think the show actually handles it quite well, at least thematically.)

So some people have done 'challenge runs' of Animal Crossing New Horizons in the recent past, such as trying to build an entire island within thirty or less days, sometimes with added restrictions such as not spending Bells. While I know better than to commit myself to a set timeframe (that never ends well for me. EVER), I do have several goals for Koinonia. One, get ten villagers that I like. Two, decorate the entire island, including fully upgrading and decorating my house (getting a five-star island rating is optional) and decorating all of my villagers' yards. And three, get the photographs of all ten of my permanent residents, forging the bonds of friendship and restoring the spirit of Koinonia. It's not a nuzlocke-level challenge, and will most definitely take some time (possibly over a year, especially considering that I don't time travel in Animal Crossing games), but it does provide both narrative and an end goal. (Filling out the museum is optional.)

"Black Cherry" will likely be the first villager that Lena tries to befriend, because if you're lost in the middle of what could be the northern hemisphere or could be the next dimension, you might try checking in with the local witch. But will this mysterious 'beagle girl' be an ally, or an enemy...?


Getting away from the Koinonia mythos for a short bit and describing ACNH's gameplay, I have to say that coming back to New Horizons straight off of Disney Dreamlight Valley is somewhat jarring. For one, ACNH uses A for tools and Y to pick up items, which is the exact opposite of DDLV. For another, despite all of my gripes with DDLV's persnickety game camera, ACNH gives you literally three different angles in the overworld outside of the photograph feature, which means you're stuck with the forced perspective that the game throws at you. Given Animal Crossing's more stylistic graphics, this was likely considered a feature, not a bug, but on the heels of the sheer freedom that DDLV's camera provides, it just feels like a massive missed opportunity.

In addition, while New Horizons revolutionized Animal Crossing by making it possible to place furniture anywhere on the island, there were a few characters and features from New Leaf that I wish had made it into New Horizons, such as perfect fruits, the island minigames, customizing certain furniture pieces with crystals (a mechanic I admittedly never figured out because I refused to refer to any guides), and being able to spend ridiculous amounts of Bells on highly expensive items in Gracie's shop. Seriously, why even make Bells so farmable in New Horizons if there's so few really expensive items to actually spend them on? I suppose the craftable mermaid items fill the rarity void, considering how hard pearls are to come by in ACNH... but still, I'd like to see what our favorite crazy rich genderbent jerkface giraffe is up to these days. (Fun fact: Gracie is male in the original Japanese version of Animal Crossing. So is Katrina.)

One interesting piece of villager dialogue I encountered early on with Kody is that I managed to talk to him at night while he was sneaking up on a scorpion, and he actually warned me about how dangerous they were. Lena on my original ACNH island had a pet tarantula (which are NOT dangerous to humans in real life, I should point out), so perhaps I'll give her another scary-looking pet companion here.

Also, shortly before the game goes into real-time mode, the player gets a dream sequence where K.K. Slider gives them a short talk on the importance of friendship and finding your own way in the world. In Lena's case he's preaching to the choir, but hey, it's not a bad speech for a cozy game based around building relationships with NPCs and with other players.

As I progressed through the tutorial stages of the game, I had a couple of interesting interactions with Cherry. First she gave me the recipe for a leaf umbrella, then after I got stung by wasps, she gave me another recipe for medicine, which I'd completely forgotten was craftable in ACNH. Unfortunately both recipes require weeds, and I'd already sold all the weeds in the currently available area to Timmy and Tommy in hopes of getting the Nook Miles to pay off my debt. This led me to suspect that the weeds on Koinonia have magical properties (possibly leading to or at least playing into the conflict between tribes) and that the raccoons are trying to corner the market on them. I guess that makes Cherry some sort of herbalist? (Yeah... 'herbalist.')

Anyway, apparently a certain amount of weeds plus a hornet's nest amounts to medicine, which I do not recommend trying at home because you would be arrested for medical malpractice. Lena also comes up with a recipe for a succulent plant using an old tin can and some weeds, implying that she's practicing her transmutation skills -- nothing at the level of turning a ray gun into a raven (or her uncle Poe back from a raven, for that matter), but it's still a relatively impressive piece of magic.

While I can't currently craft anything that needs weeds, I did manage to make two tiki torches and four log stakes for the outside of Cherry's house. I also got some pears in the mail from Lena's 'mom,' which raises all sorts of questions because Lena doesn't actually have a mom in the show. She has two adoptive dads and a crazy shadow aunt who's trying to steal her magic. Who would her 'mother figure' be? Mrs. Beakley? At any rate, I would not eat or plant any type of fruit that Magica de Spell mailed me, although she does get points for creativity for using pears instead of apples. Poisoned apples would be far too obvious.

Playing around with the whole 'magical plant life' concept, I decided that Koinonia's herbs (I'm calling them that because the phrase 'magical weeds' carries unintended and entirely unwanted connotations) aren't just used for medicinal purposes, but they cause the native bugs and fish to grow more powerful and aggressive. That... adds extra purpose to hunting them down and selling their corpses to Timmy and Tommy, or donating them to Blathers' museum. It also gives Koinonia something more of an Amphibia vibe to it, which I suppose feels right for a tropical island. Those scorpions and wasps? Yeah, they're much larger than you'd think. Shake trees at your own risk.

...Herba Mystica. These plants are freaking Herba Mystica. (Also the fruit grown on this island somehow grants the eater superhuman strength, as seen by them smashing rocks and digging up trees, although given what we see of Lena in Terror of the Terra-Firmians, she may have already had a bit of that anyway...)

Unfortunately I won't get my first Flimsy Shovel until Blathers has moved in, and since I refuse to time travel out of the principle of the thing (hey, I'm autistic, we're kind of big on rules, it just makes me uncomfortable), and I didn't realize yesterday that I needed to show Tom Nook five creatures to unlock Blathers, that's going to be a day's wait. But on the plus side, I found the one single herb on this segment of the island that Lena hasn't already foolishly sold to what I am now officially calling Raccoon Corp., so I planted that in Cherry's yard in hopes of her cultivating its magic. Also I've been planting flowers in groups of five in hopes of cross-breeding rare variants.


On the subject of crazy super-powerful wildlife, I had the idea to build a team of Pokemon for each of my permanent villagers. Cherry has definitely grown on me, and while initially I felt that the Dark type would work well for her, in keeping with the Pokemon gym leader theme of their names correlating with their type specialty (and her apparently herbalistic nature), I decided she'd be a Grass type specialist that uses her Pokemon to aid in her potionmaking.

While the obvious choice for her ace would be Cherubi/Cherrim, I actually felt that Tsareena as a fruit-based Pokemon would fit her aesthetic better, given its fashion sense (let's not talk about the darker theories regarding its design elements; I don't want any of that here). I considered Amoongus and Shiinotic as mushroom Pokemon that an herbalist might have on her, especially since Amoongus matches Cherry's red and black color scheme, but since Paras literally has medicinal mushrooms on its back, and Animal Crossing is full of bugs, I had to go with Parasect. Simisage is another Grass-type known for medicinal properties (I also considered Hisuian Lilligant, but while I personally like it a lot, it's far too sunny for Cherry's vibe), and Lurantis is a pure Grass type resembling the orchid mantis, which is a bug that can be caught in ACNH that I am totally planning to get at least one model of from Flick once I get the opportunity. Since Cherry has a dark goth feel to her and has a magical reputation in this canon, Meowscarada will serve as her Grass/Dark type, and for her final mon I was torn between Ferrothorn and Scovillain, but ultimately chose Sinistcha instead because, well, it's literally made of ghostly tea powder. What else would she have?

In terms of backstory, I actually imagine "Black Cherry" to be the daughter of Black Arts Beagle, one of the Beagle Boys introduced in the reboot. (Thus the added 'B' name.) Like Lena, Black Cherry came to Koinonia through a magic portal, except that it was her own, because she was tired of living in a junkyard and ran away from home through a spell that she hasn't yet been able to replicate to get back to Duckburg. While this gives Lena and Cherry a lot in common, once Cherry realizes that Lena is the same girl who crashed her grandmother's birthday party and threw the cake in her face, things are gonna get awkward fast. IIRC, Black Arts canonically hadn't even been invited to that party, so Cherry only knows all this secondhand -- but once she puts the pieces together, there could be trouble.

Interestingly enough, Cherry's Spanish name is Luna, which is one letter away from Lena. I guess these two were meant to find each other on the same island. (No, I'm not shipping them. I already know who I'm shipping Lena with on this island, and they haven't shown up yet. Any guesses?)


For Kody, he's a Jock villager whose first unique conversation with Lena was warning her about a scorpion that he's hunting. I can easily see him as a beast hunter, perhaps a Bug-type specialist because there's so many different mutant bugs all over Koinonia. It may take some time before I have enough of a bead on his character to determine his team.

If Kody is a bug hunter and Bug-type specialist, maybe he's no ordinary bear. Maybe he's a water bear, a microanimal otherwise known as a tardigrade... or a bugbear, which is a sort of hobgoblin. Perhaps a bit of both -- an oversized literal bug-bear with a fearsome appearance, but a nice soul under his rough exterior. This could make him something of an outcast compared to the more 'civilized' animals on the island, such as Blathers and the raccoons. As a living shadow simulacrum, Lena understands something about feeling like a monster among mortals, so it shouldn't be too difficult for them to bond over that.

Pinsir is a pretty obvious one, and Scolipede and Golisopod are two more mighty bug beasts that fit well with his theme. But since we're going all out with his 'misunderstood beast creature' theme, I'm going to cheat a bit and stack his team with a couple of sort of legendary Pokemon in Buzzwole and Slither Wing, two Bug/Fighting types that definitely fit the 'mutant bug creature' theme Kody's got going on here. Finally, since we've already got some pretty powerful mons, I'm going to indulge myself in a low-level mon that nobody really likes but that fits the theme quite well: Spidops. (And if you actually like Spidops, power to ya. Personally I think it's growing on me myself.)

And on that note, Koinonia is starting to develop a bit of an Undertale-esque storyline, where the 'monsters' you encounter aren't actually monsters, just good people in bad situations, and how you choose to interact with them makes all the difference. Granted, if we ever encounter a villager we have to actually kick out, that's another matter...

So hey, I guess this is a peek into what happens in my head while I'm in Full-On Worldbuilding Mode.

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my ADHD Brain has gone OFF THE CHARTS with how excited I was!! I was getting ideas left and right, but the biggest one I've gotten was doing this myself with another game: Cookie Run Kingdom (bro i'm so excited I can't focus of commenting rn). That game has a lot of similarities with New Horizons, and I just can't WAIT to do so! 

You probably need context for this, but I was trying to go for a Seasons Kingdom, where each section represented a season, Autnum being on the far right, and Summer I can only but guess is on the far left (So it would go fall, winter, spring then summer). 

Another thing i'm just OBSESSED with here is the STORY AND LORE!!!! granted, I know little about Ducktales (I only watched up to lena's introduction, or up to the lil duck girl's missing mom, I can't remember), but this ALONE has me squirming in my chair!

please, PLEASE do more! I wanted to read the first before the second one, so that is my next destination! I LOVE THISSS!!!

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