Now that I've had years of experience I'm finally close to realizing the goal of the ninja roll, and it was worth the wait. In the video you can see how it's done, you lean back and then tilt forward to create rotation and jump a little. The main thing left for the player movement is the feet/leg simulation, right now the waist is just a standard FPS non-physics movement, the rest of the body is simulated.
The boxman isn't final either, but I think it looks better than the sphereman. It also kind of looks like a 3D version of Pitfall Harry which is cool. I have some ideas for the player model, it will probably be polygonal but not boxes.