Giant Rings, also known as Special Rings (スペシャルリング Supesharu Ringu?), Warp Rings, Dimension Rings and Factory Rings, are larger variants of the Rings in the Sonic the Hedgehog series which first appeared in Sonic the Hedgehog (1991). These rings serve usually as the means of entering the Special Stages or other locations when certain requirements are meant, but have also been used for other purposes.
Like regular Rings, albeit much larger, Giant Rings closely resemble round-shaped, golden wedding rings that spin in midair, although in one occasional game appearance, they flash with rainbow colors. Like regular Rings, there is no explanation for their origin. However, unlike regular Rings, Giant Rings are not common objects, as they are either located near the Goal Plate or hidden in numerous rooms hidden behind walls.
While normal Rings are collected by the player when touched, Giant Rings instead generally serve as transportation devices. When the user touches the Giant Ring, it and the playable character disappear into thin air, and the user is send to another location, such as the Special Stage. However, it is usually required that the player has collected a certain amount of regular Rings (usually fifty) before the Giant Ring appears. There are also different variants of Giant Rings that have appeared throughout the series.
Sonic the Hedgehog (1991)
The Giant Rings made their first appearance in Sonic the Hedgehog (1991), where they only appear at the end of the first two Acts of the first five zones if the player has at least fifty Rings at that point. If the requirements are met, the Giant Ring will appear right above and behind the Goal Plate. If the player jumps into the Giant Ring, they will be transported to one of the six Special Stages, where they can collect one of the Chaos Emeralds.
Sonic the Hedgehog CD
In Sonic the Hedgehog CD, Giant Rings are used in the same way as in Sonic the Hedgehog (1991), and can be found floating right above the Goal Plate at the end of each round's first and second Zone in every timeline. Having collected fifty Rings at that point will make the Goal Ring appear, and jumping into it will transport the player to a Special Stage where they can obtain a Time Stone.
Sonic Chaos, Giant Rings are only featured in the first and second Special Stages of the game. Unlike in previous games, Giant Rings are here seen mostly in large groups, and instead of transporting the player when touched, they give the player ten extra Rings before disappearing.
The first Special Stage's groups of Giant Rings actually form words such as "SHIMA", "RAY" and "5OO". Meanwhile, the last group of Giant Rings hold a Chaos Emerald in the middle, which the player has to collect within a time limit.
Sonic the Hedgehog 3 & Knuckles
In Sonic the Hedgehog 3 and its add-on continuation Sonic & Knuckles, Giant Rings are named Giant Gold Rings or Special Rings. Unlike in the original Sonic the Hedgehog and Sonic the Hedgehog CD, Giant Rings are hidden in rooms throughout the Zones. Such rooms can usually be found behind breakable walls, inside small holes, on hidden routes or other places where only a certain playable character is able to get. Additionally, they do not require any number of Rings to enter. Like in previous games, they transport the player to a Special Stage where they can get a Chaos Emerald. The player can locate hidden Giant Rings by looking at the game's HUD: if it starts to turn yellow, then a Giant Ring is nearby.
By locking-on two games to one, when the player enters Mushroom Hill Zone, the player will find a Giant Ring that flashes in multiple colors instead of gold named Super Rings. These Giant Rings only appear after the player has collected all the Chaos Emeralds, and will transport the player to the Emerald Shrine in the Hidden Palace Zone, where players can enter Special Stages to upgrade the Chaos Emeralds to Super Emeralds. Like normal Giant Rings, the gameplay HUD starts flashing in multiple colors when the Super Rings are nearby.
After getting all of the Chaos Emeralds and Super Emeralds, the Giant Rings will no longer transport the player, but instead grants they fifty Rings, allowing for immediate activation or extended duration of the super transformation.
In Knuckles' Chaotix, there are two different types of Giant Rings which look the same, but transports the player to different places. The first type of Giant Rings are hidden around all five levels of each Zone and transports the player to the Bonus Stage to earn Rings, points and power-ups. The second type appear normally at the end of each level if the player holds fifty Rings at that point, like in previous titles, but if the player does not jump into it before the results pop in, it will disappear. These types of Giant Rings lead to the Special Stage where the player can obtain one of the six Chaos Rings.
Sonic 3D Blast
In Sonic 3D Blast (known as Sonic 3D: Flickies' Island in Europe), the Giant Rings are called Dimension Rings and are more generally featured. In the game's storyline, it is told that Flickies are able to travel between dimensions by using Giant Rings. When Dr. Robotnik notices this, he creates a "Dimension Ring Generator" to capture Flickies from their dimension and turn them into robots. As Sonic arrives to Flicky Island, he starts a self-appointed operation to rescue all the Flickies.
In gameplay, the player has to collect Flickies from the levels and then deliver them to a Giant Ring which has a red band to spin around it. Once all five Flickies in one section are collected, the player can pass through the Giant Ring and move on to the next section of the Act. Giant Rings can be found in two or three places in the first and second acts of most Zones. The first two Giant Rings open new sections and function as check points, while the last one works as goal and transports the player to the next Act. However, the first act of Panic Puppet Zone only has one Giant Ring and the second act contains none at all, as the player has to reach the entrance of Robotnik's giant statue.
In the good ending, Sonic is transported back to Flicky Island through a Giant Ring after defeating Robotnik, while bad ending in the Saturn version of the game, a Giant Rings appearing nearby Sonic that show Robotnik with at least four Chaos Emeralds.
In Sonic Blast, Giant Rings are smaller than the playable character himself. Like from previous games, these Giant Rings are hidden, although in this game there is only one Giant Ring for each Act per Zone. Also, the Giant Rings in the first Act give access to a Special Stage where the player can earn an extra life, while those in the second Act gives access to a Special Stage where a Chaos Emerald fragment can be collected.
In Sonic Jam, after completing all the challenges in Sonic World, a single Giant Ring appear above the river in front of the waterfall. The player can reach it by jumping on a spinning totem pole and then onto the moving platform that will get the player into the range of it. This Giant Rings transports the player to somewhere unknown, though it will afterwards show the game progresses and the end credits, before returning the player to the title screen.
Sonic Pocket Adventure
In Sonic the Hedgehog Pocket Adventure, the Giant Ring repeats its role from original Sonic the Hedgehog, where they appear at the end of the first Act of each Zone, if the player holds at least fifty Rings at that point. The player has to jump immediately to it when the Goal Plate falls down to the ground, which take them to the Special Stage.
Sonic Advance 3
In Sonic Advance 3, there are two types of Giant Rings. The first of these are named Factory Rings. Each Zone Map in the game contains one Factory Ring which will take the player to the Sonic Factory, where they can move between Zone Maps, enter the Chao Playground and switch characters. The second type of Giants Rings in the game are called Act Rings, which the player uses to access the game's various Acts.
Sonic the Hedgehog 4
In Sonic the Hedgehog 4: Episode I and II, the Giant Rings have a role similar to the one in earlier games, where they appear right above the Goal Plate at the end of the first and second Act of each Zone, if the player holds fifty Rings when reaching that point. Like in the earlier games, the Giant Rings take the player to a Special Stage where a Chaos Emerald can be obtained.
Sonic Lost World
In the Nintendo 3DS version of Sonic Lost World, Giant Rings again serve as the only means of entering the Special Stages of the game. If the player clears a Zone with fifty Rings on hand, the Giant Ring appears, and the player is given choice to enter the Special Stage. If the player chooses "Yes", Sonic is transported to the Special Stage via the Giant Ring.
Chaos Rings are six powerful multi-colored rings, that actually are larger variants of normal rings in Knuckles' Chaotix. In the game's Japanese storyline, they were accidentally created when Doctor Robotnik contacted a Special Ring, an artifact once used by the Knuckles Clan which Robotnik and Metal Sonic seemingly use to form a monstrous robot. Chaos Rings can be collected by completing Special Stages of the game.
There exist larger variants of Dark Rings in Knuckles' Chaotix. As normal, synthesized rings are featured to being powering up Badniks, larger variants of Dark Rings are seen being powering Eggman's vehicles at the end of fifth act for each zone in the game. After defeating the boss, it pops out the destroyed vehicle and evaporates into the air as ash. Near the end of the game, Robotnik uses one to used to power up Metal Sonic and transforming him into a monstrous robot.
Goal Ring is another variant of Giant Ring, that is first introduced in Sonic Adventure 2. It has then become the recurring object that is located at the end of each level for completing it on the most of recent games.
Goal Rings do act similarly to normal Giants Rings in Sonic Heroes, where if you were Team Dark or Team Rose and you got to the end of the level on a side mission and you had not completed the required objective you could touch the Goal Ring and it would act like a Warp Ring and send you back to the start of the level to complete the objective.
In other media
Sonic the Comic
In Sonic the Comic, several items appear that are based on the Giant Rings from the games. Sonic once used a Giant Ring for a short cut, but got himself sent to the Special Zone. The use of Giant Rings (and rings in general) was quickly phased out of the series. The Giant Rings' role of providing instantaneous travel between Zones was taken over by Star Posts. Other variants of the Giant Rings would also appear, like the Mobius Ring and the Ring of Eternity.
The Sonic the Hedgehog comic series and its spin-offs published by Archie Comics also features Giant Rings, which are known as Warp Rings. The Warp Rings were created by Doctor Finitevus and when charged up with Chaos energy allow instantaneous transport for anyone who uses them. They can seemingly penetrate any security measures and allow travel to any location, regardless of distance.
The continuity also featured the Super Warp Ring; a more powerful version of the Warp Ring that can provide transport through time and between dimensions.
In the French comic Sonic Adventures volume 1, "Dans les griffes de Robotnik", a Sonic 3-styled Giant Ring is depicted hovering over the boiling magma in a volcano in the hidden city of the Echidnas. Sonic, Amy Rose and Princess Alucion fall through the giant ring when Doctor Robotnik tries to throw them into the volcano. They are transported to the Blue Sphere Special Stage, where Sonic gets the highest score, wins the Seven Magical Emeralds and the Golden Armor.
- Formations of giant rings in Sonic Chaos refer to designers of the game, M.Shima, Ray and 5OOZO, who are also listed in the game's end credits.
- As classic act of Mushroom Hill Zone in Sonic Generations recycles its level layout from the first act of original game, hidden Giant Rings are replaced with eight normal Rings on large Ring formation.
- Although Sonic appears to pose with the giant ring in both artworks of Sonic Jump and Sonic Dash, none of the aforementioned games actually featured giant rings at all.
- Though Giant Rings resemble wedding rings, they make an exception in the Nintendo 3DS version of Sonic Lost World, where they resemble sharp-edged hoops, similar to eternity rings.
- Giant rings make several appearances in the Sonic the Hedgehog level pack for LEGO Dimensions. In that game, they are more angular (due to being made of rectangular bricks) and have a yellow vortex in their center.
- ↑ Sonic the Comic #34, "Sonic 3 Part 1 - The Zones"
- ↑ 2.0 2.1 Sonic Mega Collection Plus; Sonic the Hedgehog 3 & Knuckles hints
- ↑ 3.0 3.1 Sonic 3D Blast (Sega Mega Drive) United States instruction manual, pg. 3.
- ↑ Sonic Team (June 7, 2004) Sonic Advance 3. Game Boy Advance. Sega. "Omochao: This is an Act Ring, this will take you to an Act Map"
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