Mario didn’t need it. Sonic took it to a level that has yet to be surpassed. It is used for escaping, evading, dodging, maneuvering, attacking and, occasionally, for traversing. It is an easy button press in many games, and it is an easy way to break your neck in real life. It is the roll.
Gamers and duders, welcome to the first inaugural Rolies – the first and only video game awards dedicated to the roll. Call it what you will – dodge roll, evade roll, rollout, etc. – this oft overlooked video game trope finally gets proper recognition in a look at the top rolls of 2011.
We have been acquainted with the roll mechanic in games for generations, and we have come to love the beauty of a good roll. Giant Bomb lists the following definition of the roll:
“A roll consists of simultaneous vertical and horizontal movement of a body. There are several variations of a roll, and some vehicles are also capable of this movement.”
Soccer balls and basketballs roll in games, but they have no place here. Tires roll, but get them outta this category. The people have spoken, and they want good ol’ fashioned rollin’. So, let’s dispense with the lofty introductions and get straight to the awards – the Rolies, honoring the best in rolling in video games of 2011!
(Rolex sponsorship pending; gold watch awards pending)
The Schwarzeneggerest Roll
When this hulking mass of muscles and hammers rolls, you feel it. He rolls like a freight train. He rolls like the full impact of the galaxy’s defense force. He rolls with a purpose, and when he rolls he leaves orcs flattened in his path.
The Rickest Roll
The Rickest Roll, owing its namesake to the cruel bastards who rickroll us to Rick Astley’s fabulously awful “Never Gonna Give You Up” video, honors the most immoral, the most loathsome, low and obscene – essentially, the evilest roll in games this year.
2011’s Rickest Roll goes to the game that sinks gamers into the pits of hell, dodge rolling around on putrid, rank and foul floors covered in agony and blood. This game’s vulgarity is relentless. Whether your spraying murderous ghouls with Big Boner shots as a demon-hunting biker or you are running across the gigantic manifestation of your girlfriend’s naked boobs in a nightmarish dark void, you’ll need this guy’s fantastic roll ability to get you where you are going.
The “Dead Sea Scrolls”-est Roll
There are many classic rolls to which modern day rolls owe their inspiration. Many would consider Metroid (NES) to be the granddaddy of all rolls, debuting the mechanic all the way back in 1987. But when The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time unveiled the ability to dodge roll in a 3D space, the face of rolling would never be the same.
The Springest Roll
He is vengeance. He is the night. He has one helluva dodge roll.
We hesitated to even call this a roll, although, by definition, it meets the criteria – much the same as the vegetables in the deep fried spring roll at Chinese food restaurants which have been stripped of all semblance to vegetables but which, technically, are still vegeteables.
This roll has legit, jaw dropping air under it. This roll ain’t playin’. This roll will slap yo’ momma. He rolls so high and so hard, and seemingly with such ease, that this roller isn’t happy just rolling. He’s gotta jump and roll. He’s gotta jump so high he’s landing on dudes backs to roll over them. Watch out when this roll is coming at you – that is if you can see it amidst the flurry of face punches he’s dolling out.
The “Party Rock”-est Roll
Think rolls are just for the main character? Think that for two seconds in this game, and you’ll surely die. Well, you’ll surely die repeatedly in this game anyway, but you’ll die even more when this set of enemies comes rolling at you. There’s a party in the hellish underworld, and everyone is invited to roll in.
Granted you can roll in this game. You can do many things in this game, but that isn’t going to stop the ruthless undead warriors from using an unrelenting bag of tricks to take you down – rolling being one of their terrible arsenal of attacks.
2011’s “Party Rock”-est Roll goes out to the heroes and villains of Dark Souls.
The Thunderest Roll
The Thunderest Roll can only be given to one who holds the power of gods in his hands and in his rolls. Of all the nominees for this award, only one wields a lightning infused weapon which he uses to bat baddies out of the air after rolling their feet out from under them and launching them to their unfortunate, defenseless demise.
The Multi-ballest Roll
Ahh…the sweet satisfaction of unlocking the multi-ball on a pinball table. What splendid freneticism. What a freeing sense of accomplishment. What an unabashed flash of points aggregation.
The Multi-ballest Roll winner displays an uncanny knack for pulling off additional actions mid-roll, and this year we have a benchmark in the realm of multitaskrolling. Whether picking up ammo, reloading, or dropping a grenade, this hero never saw a roll he couldn’t do more with.
The “Poetic Tickling of the Danglies of the Concepts of Time and Space”-est Roll
Let’s face it, at this point we’re starting to see that the roll can pop up in damn near any game, and it isn’t hard to imagine the roll mechanic being implemented by some developers without proper care and respect. But that only makes a good roll stand out even more.
Incorporated as an integral addition to the combat arsenal, the dodge roll in this game is one that must be mastered and feared. It can take down an enemy or send the spritely hero barreling over the edge of the continually forming world around him into a cataclysmic abyss. This roll needs the player as much as the player needs it, and the fate of the world, the past and the future lie in question without it.
It is subtle. It is nuanced. It is asking for players to step up to the challenge of mastering it.
The Stickiest Roll
Sure, we’d all love to go rolling about all willy-nilly, but sometimes that just ain’t in the cards. Sometimes our rolling is best left to only those most essential moments. Sometimes we only roll when we have to.
Therein is the heart of this year’s Stickiest Roll award winner. He rolls with the best of them. In fact, many envy his graceful roll. But his roll, like all of his actions – like his entire demeanor – is done with absolute seriousness, clarity and purpose. No effort is wasted, and when he takes to the ground for a roll it is only with the most clandestine intentions.
The Unrollest Roll
We love a good roll, but we appreciate the fact that the roll can’t fit in every game. The Unrollest Roll honors the game which could have, but thankfully didn’t, include a roll as a gameplay element.
Delicately nuanced facial animations. Slow and deliberate crime scene investigation. Thoughtful, multi-tiered dialogue trees and options. This game revels in its quiet moments. But it also delves into the genre of open world action complete with driving and shooting gameplay. It would have been easy for the developers to fall into the trope of the roll so popular with action shooters, but it didn’t. It made the bold and, by our opinion, wise choice to ground the game in realism, shedding the need for a roll animation.
The Best Roll
Finally we’ve come to the Best Roll of 2011. This year’s winning roll captures such a prismatic, brilliant and skillful radiance that it shines above the rest. This roller rolled away from a more diverse stable of dangers and adversaries than any other. He rolled into more wide-ranging actions than any other. And he rolled with such style and dignity that all others look to him for inspiration. He is the hill that all others roll down. He is the globe rolling on its axis. He is the Best Roll winner of 2011. He is Geralt of Rivia of The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings.
And that brings us to the end of the Rolies. Again, this was a great year for rolls. We’d like to thank all of our winners and apologize for not having trophy watches to hand out (Rolex, I will gladly distribute the gold watches if you’d like to send them my way). This is a promising time for rolls. We’re seeing roll revivals with great re-releases of such as Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D, Devil May Cry HD Collection, Shadow of the Colossus in HD. We’re also looking forward to another great year of rolls with some highly anticipated rolls in Mass Effect 3 and Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning. So to all the rolls, rollers and roll fans out there, thank you, and we wish you the best rolls in 2012.