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Kannonballs first appear in Donkey Kong Country 2: Diddy's Kong Quest throughout the game's many levels. A Kannonball can be grabbed by the player(s) and used as a weapon against enemies, even though the main purpose of Kannonballs is to bring them to a Kannon. Once a Kannonball is thrown into a Kannon, it will activate it allowing the player(s) to be blasted to a Bonus Barrel.
Kannonballs also act as hazards that the player(s) have to avoid. They are often fired by Kannons, and unlike Barrels, they cannot be jumped on. Kannonballs are also shot out of Kaptain K. Rool's Blunderbuss, which can be thrown back into it when he uses it as a vacuum to cause a backfire. In addition, he can also fire a spiked Kannonball.
Kannonballs also appear in Donkey Kong Land 2, where they serve the same basic purpose as in Donkey Kong Country 2: Diddy's Kong Quest; being used as a weapon and activating Kannons.
In Donkey Kong 64, a single, extremely large Kannonball can be found near the entrance to Gloomy Galleon. The player must have Chunky Kong lift this Kannonball and bring it to a nearby Kannon; once the Kannonball is brought to this Kannon, it will activate it. Using the Kannon, the player must use it to shoot several moving targets in the room they are in, with a limited amount of time and Kannonballs for ammunition. If player hits all the targets with Kannonballs, they will gain a Golden Banana.