Animal Crossing: 5 changes that would make island life so much easier

Commentary: Warp pipes are cool, but Nintendo could do so much more...

Gael Cooper
CNET editor Gael Fashingbauer Cooper, a journalist and pop-culture junkie, is co-author of "Whatever Happened to Pudding Pops? The Lost Toys, Tastes and Trends of the '70s and '80s," as well as "The Totally Sweet '90s." She's been a journalist since 1989, working at Mpls.St.Paul Magazine, Twin Cities Sidewalk, the Minneapolis Star Tribune, and NBC News Digital. She's Gen X in birthdate, word and deed. If Marathon candy bars ever come back, she'll be first in line.
Expertise Breaking news, entertainment, lifestyle, travel, food, shopping and deals, product reviews, money and finance, video games, pets, history, books, technology history, generational studies. Credentials
  • Co-author of two Gen X pop-culture encyclopedia for Penguin Books. Won "Headline Writer of the Year"​ award for 2017, 2014 and 2013 from the American Copy Editors Society. Won first place in headline writing from the 2013 Society for Features Journalism.
Gael Cooper
4 min read

Yes, some of us are still playing Animal Crossing: New Horizons, the Nintendo game that proved a great escape for many stuck at home due to the coronavirus pandemic. Thankfully Nintendo keeps us interested by adding new elements.

And recently, Nintendo announced something huge: Its most famous character Mario is coming to Animal Crossing, providing players with Mario-themed clothing and accessories in a free update arriving Feb. 25.

But for this avid Animal Crossing islander, the highlight of the coming update is the addition of Super Mario warp pipes. According to the video, players can place two pipes on their island, then use them like fast-moving elevators to get from one part of the island to another. You can set one outside your front door, and another at, say, your museum, Nook's Cranny store, Resident Services building, or any place for a rapid-transit solution. 

The warp pipes aren't just another fun event or additional fish or bug you can catch, they're a quality of life improvement that help speed up the game. Now that Nintendo is delivering warp pipes, here are five other improvements I'd like to see. I still love the game, but please, Nintendo overlords, can you deliver on some of these in a future update? If you do, I'll try to whine less about the sheer number of sea bass I keep catching.

1. Non-stop Nook Miles flights

Players looking to add a new villager use Nook Miles Tickets and fly from their island's airport to a mystery island. But when they inevitably find a terrible villager (looking at you, Beardo), they can't just run to the plane and ask pilot Wilbur to take them to another island. Instead, the player has to first fly home, wave goodbye to Wilbur, and ask his brother Orville for a new flight to another island. 

Would it be so hard for the game to allow Wilbur to just offer the option of taking the player directly to another NMT island? If he can accept Nook Miles to sell the player tools on a mystery island, surely he can accept a NMT and just fly Soaring Pansy to another mystery island.


"How can you help me out today," Orville? How about by letting me fly to more than one mystery island without constantly returning to the airport?

Game screenshot by Gael Fashingbauer Cooper/CNET

2. Able Sisters needs a shopping cart

The Animal Crossing clothing store, Able Sisters, is run by two cute hedgehogs, Mabel and Sable. Players can duck into the store fitting room and browse through the daily clothing options. But every time the player finds an outfit they want to buy, they must step out of the fitting room and endure a lengthy dialogue with Mabel before going back in. So if you want that cute retro dress or campy cat hood in all its offered colors, you may find yourself re-entering the fitting room half a dozen times or more. 

Take a tip from every online store out there, Nintendo, and let players pile up items they want to purchase in a shopping cart, then buy them all without constantly leaving and entering the fitting room, all while forgetting which color item they've already purchased. It'd also be nice if the game showed you that you've already purchased a clothing item while you're still inside the fitting room.


This royal dress may be fashionable, but if you want it in more than one color, you'll have to keep leaving and entering the Able Sisters' fitting room.

Game screenshot by Gael Fashingbauer Cooper/CNET

3. Add an 'oops' button

Animal Crossing: New Horizons needs an "undo" button as badly as overworked Isabelle needs a day off. So many times I've grabbed the wrong thing, or accidentally picked a flower, or mistakenly erased a custom pattern from a path. Yes, you can fix these goofs, but it sometimes takes more patience than I have at the moment to dive into the Island Designer app to reposition that flowery path I just accidentally kicked away. We can't get an "undo" button in real life, but we sure can in games, and this game calls out for one.

4. Let players stack more things

A player's inventory can get full quickly. It helps that some items -- such as clay, iron nuggets, and shells -- can stack up, meaning five or 10 of them take up only one inventory slot. But anyone who's played for a while can think of numerous other items that could stack in inventory. How about manila clams, the ingredient in fish bait? I don't always want to run to a crafting station to get them out of my inventory. And crafted items, such as shell arches and the like, should also be stackable, making that "sell a hot item for a fortune" Nook Miles task even easier.


Why can't you stack manila clams as you can other crafting materials?

Game screenshot by Gael Fashingbauer Cooper/CNET

5. Shut it, Gulliver

There's an Animal Crossing meme showing two books. One enormous one is labeled as the dialogue in the game, one slender one is labeled as the dialogue in the game if you took away the blah-blah-blah spoken by Gulliver, the hapless seagull who constantly washes up on the player's beach. He's about as good as getting to the point as he is about not losing or breaking his communicator, which is to say, he's terrible at it. Someone get that bird an editor!