The term Roll Attack can refer to two different moves Link can perform in the Zelda series. The first of which has become more commonly known simple as Roll in more recent games; all it consists of is Link rolling forward. The second move by this name involves rolling forward, then following with a sword attack.
The unarmed roll attack was first introduced in Ocarina of Time, and subsequently appeared in every other game to date, save Oracle of Ages and Oracle of Seasons. In most games of its appearance, this can be performed by moving forward and pressing the action button. The Nintendo DS games, Phantom Hourglass and Spirit Tracks, require different techniques to roll. The player could cause Link to roll by drawing a small circle at the edge of the DS screen in Phantom Hourglass, and by tapping the edge of the screen while running in Spirit Tracks.
It is rarely used as an attack, but is instead an action the player can use to "tackle" some objects, an action that was formerly done with the Pegasus Boots in A Link to the Past and Link's Awakening. In most cases of its appearance, it can also be used repeatedly to travel faster than walking. Although it doesn't seem to be intended as an attack, this technique has been known to cause some damage to the occasional enemy.
Phantom Hourglass is the only game in the series to date that seems to discourage using this repeatedly. If Link rolls four times in a row, he will halt momentarily and become dizzy. Coincidentally, this also happens when he attempts to perform a Spin Attack four times consecutively.
In The Minish Cap, a Tiger Scroll technique known as the Roll Attack is featured and can be learned from Grayblade partway through the game. To use it, Link must roll and swing his sword just before the roll finishes. If Link does so, he will slide forward with his sword outstretched, and will perform a Spin Attack if he runs into an enemy or a pickup.
A similar technique later appeared in Twilight Princess, but instead of a spin attack, Link would now perform a forward thrust upon rising. Unlike most of the sword techniques in the game, this wasn't a Hidden Skill; it could be used from the first moment Link picked up a sword.
- "Roll! Then swing your sword as you start to get up!" — Tiger Scroll (The Minish Cap)