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First introduced in Donkey Kong Country, it is used by pressing . Donkey Kong will curl into a ball and ram into an enemy. If used on a row of enemies, the attack may scatter the entire row. Also, when used near a ledge, this move can be used to jump in midair, and thus cross over gaps. The move is later used in the game's pseudo-sequel Donkey Kong Land, by pressing .
Being captured in subsequent games, the move is instead used by Kiddy Kong in Donkey Kong Country 3: Dixie Kong's Double Trouble!. When performing this move near an edge with water, Kiddy can hop across ponds by pressing on the water, and he can also reach heights that are inaccessible. One technique that can be used is to have Dixie pick up Kiddy and throw him against a wall; the Kong will roll back, and if Dixie were to get on Kiddy, the former would perpetuate the roll by continuously running on the other character. This way, they would eliminate various enemies with ease throughout their path. Only the usual roll attack can be performed in the game's pseudo-sequel Donkey Kong Land III.
In Donkey Kong 64, the roll attack returns as one of Donkey Kong's basic moves in the game, as he becomes a playable character again. To use it, the player must press and while running.
The roll attack is Donkey Kong's signature move yet again in Donkey Kong Country Returns, Donkey Kong Country Returns 3D, and Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze. It can be utilized by shaking the or or by pressing / or /// (depending on the game and/or control setup) while moving on the ground. The attack technique involving rolling on the stronger character, which had been used in Donkey Kong Country 3, has been brought back, and it was given a name: the Kong Roll. A partner, be it Diddy, Dixie, or Cranky, rolls on Donkey Kong, had the player continuously swing the remote or repeatedly press the button on the game pad. The water skip ability makes a comeback, but it is exclusive to Tropical Freeze.
In Super Smash Bros. for Nintendo 3DS / Wii U, Donkey Kong uses this move as his new dash attack.