Rolling Hills: Make Sushi, Make Friends Review


Rolling Hills: Make Sushi, Make Friends review hero

Rolling Hills: Make Sushi, Make Friends casts you in the role of a little robot named Sushi Bot who looks a lot like someone stuck an original Mac computer on top of a wheelbarrow tire. The mayor of Rolling Hills is desperate to revitalize his tiny town, and offers the keys to the local failed sushi restaurant to Sushi Bot if they are willing to settle in town and run the restaurant. At this point you may be thinking that the game is a restaurant sim or perhaps something akin to the classic Diner Dash game. Although there are some of these elements in Rolling Hills: Make Sushi, Make Friends, you’ll spend more time with the “make friends” aspect of the game than the “make sushi” side of things.

In fact, the whole business aspect of running the sushi restaurant sits firmly on the cozy rather than the simulation end of the spectrum. You don’t even make the sushi. Pressing a button on the sushi machine in your restaurant will cause it to churn out five dishes randomly chosen from your recipe book and roll them along a conveyer belt. Each dish falls into one of a small handful of categories – fish, veggie, sweet, etc. – and is rated on a numerical quality scale which is based on the recipe’s level and any extra added ingredients.


Serving sushi

Customers will wander in at random and take an empty seat. After a moment or two, a little thought bubble order will appear over their head with their order, represented by a dish category icon and a desired quality. You need to take a matching dish from the belt and bring it to them before their order timer expires. If this sounds like Diner Dash, it’s because it’s similar, but games like Diner Dash are designed to be challenging and grow more so as you play. Rolling Hills is very generous with its service timers – I don’t think I lost a customer once while playing the game, and wrong orders don’t instantly turn a customer into a dissatisfied walkout. The game adds some extra challenge as you progress, but it’s not by shortening the timers or sending more finicky customers into your establishment. Extra tasks like honking a horn at customers who’ve fallen asleep or avoid the blinding flash from the phones of patrons taking selfies mix things up a bit, but never push the game out of its cozy zone.

When I first started serving customers, I was concerned about managing the sushi production. The sushi machine has a battery in it, so I kept an eye on it so as not to drain it before it had the chance to recharge. I was worried that wasting sushi dishes in order to produce the dishes that customers wanted would impact my bottom line. I pretty quickly learned that if there was a way to run out of battery power and sushi I would probably never find it, and that there are no costs associated with running this particular restaurant. Every dish you serve sells at a pure 100% profit.


Sushi Bot goes shopping

So, what can you do with the cash that you earn? There are three other businesses in town that you’ll patronize with your cash. The grocer will have sushi ingredients to buy that can raise the level of your dishes or add benefits to them – such as reducing the chance a customer will make a mess of the table while eating it. There is also a shop that sells things that you can use to decorate your restaurant. These items also come with different bonuses such as increased revenue per dish or increased customer patience, as well as cosmetic items like wallpaper and flooring and additional tables so that you can serve more customers per day. Lastly, there is a coffee shop. Here you can pay to have coffee or dessert with one of the other townspeople and improve your friendship with them. Level-up your friendship with a shop owner and you may find more inventory or more exotic items available for sale.

The game follows a daily pattern. You’ll go about town doing your shopping, working on your relationships with the locals, and occasionally meeting someone new who will move into town if you complete a series of quests for them. After all that, you return to your restaurant, open shop, and then serve sushi until customers stop coming in. You’ll then be given a summary of the money that you’ve made and the customer reviews that drive your restaurant rating (i.e. level), and the next day begins and the cycle repeats. There is a bit of an overarching story involving ancient sushi gods, but it plays out slowly and without any pressure, much like the rest of the game.


Praise the sushi gods

If you’re looking for a management style game – time, financial, etc. – you won’t find it here. This is more of a game about collecting things – sushi recipes and ingredients, décor for your shop, hats for your bot, … – and interacting with a quirky cast of locals. Animal Crossing fans will certainly enjoy their time with the game, although the number of things you can do and collect here pales in comparison. Rolling Hills oozes charm, though, and even though your time in town might be relatively short, it will definitely be cozy and relaxing.

Final Rating: 78% - Run a restaurant without the fear of failure.

 

Note: A review code for Rolling Hills: Make Sushi, Make Friends was provided by the publisher. It was reviewed on PC.