From the Super Mario Wiki, the Mario encyclopedia
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The Roll is a move that involves the character curling into a ball like shape and moving. It is used in different ways depending on the series and game with the ability.
Rolling as an action in the Mario franchise first appears in the Game Boy Donkey Kong game. When Mario lands from a great height, he briefly rolls as he lands on the ground. Longer falls can stun or kill Mario.
Super Smash Bros. series
In the Super Smash Bros. series, rolling serves as an evasive maneuver. It is performed by moving the character left or right while also attempting to use a Shield. The user becomes temporarily invincible while moving a short distance in chosen direction. Rolling in the Super Smash Bros. series does not necessarily involve the character curling into a ball; many characters have different animations for rolling.
The exact length of a roll and the duration of its invincibility depends on the character rolling. In Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, these variables are also affected by how many rolls are used during a short period of time.
Super Mario series
Super Mario 3D Land
The roll is used by Mario and Luigi in Super Mario 3D Land, which causes either brother to burst forward from a crouch. After a short period of time, the character stops rolling and resumes crouching. To perform it, the player has to press or while crouching; thus, it replaces the Sweep and Slide Kicks from Super Mario 64 and its remake. When rolling, Mario and Luigi move faster than walking and can break open crates; however, the roll cannot defeat enemies, as opposed to the Roll Attack from the Donkey Kong Country series. Since the roll is performed while crouching, rolling can be used while in spaces too small to stand in. Jumping during the move makes the roll become a Rolling Leap, a longer and faster version of the Long Jump.
If Mario is in his Tanooki form or Luigi is in his Kitsune form, this move becomes the Tail Spin. When used, the character will crouch and continuously spin their tail until or is not pressed anymore. By combining this move with the Rolling Leap, the character can move while spinning their tail, defeating every enemy in their way.
Super Mario 3D World
The roll returns in Super Mario 3D World, where it works in the same way as it does in Super Mario 3D Land. Mario and Luigi can still perform rolls. Peach, Toad, and Rosalina are playable in this game, so they can roll as well. While in Cat form in Super Mario 3D World, the roll becomes a sliding tackle.
Super Mario Run
The Landing Roll is an action in Super Mario Run, which is performed when characters land from a great height, like in Donkey Kong, but its properties are different. Characters are also capable of rolling if the player taps the screen when they are on a Pause Block pointing to the right. Unlike in Donkey Kong, the roll defeats enemies that it comes into contact with. Tapping the screen while rolling performs a Rolling Jump, a variation of the Jump which can defeat enemies from below.
Super Mario Odyssey
The roll move makes a return in Super Mario Odyssey. It works similarly to its appearances in Super Mario 3D Land and Super Mario 3D World, but rolling also reacts to slopes such that Mario can roll faster while going down inclines but can struggle to roll up slopes without gathering speed beforehand. In this game, Mario can perform a continuous roll by holding and pressing or shaking the to keep rolling instead of performing just one roll at a time. (The latter method is faster than the former.) He can also initiate a roll by holding as he lands from a Long Jump, Ground Pound, or Dive. Additionally, Mario has the ability to turn while rolling.
Super Mario Maker 2
The roll can also be performed in Super Mario Maker 2, exclusively in the Super Mario 3D World style. It can be performed by pressing any of the shoulder buttons (, , , or ) while crouching. As Toadette is a playable character in Super Mario Maker 2, she can also roll.
Super Mario 3D Land
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