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Like regular Rings, albeit much larger, Giant Rings closely resemble round-shaped, golden brass 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 sent to another location, such as the Special Stage. However, it usually requires that the player collects (usually fifty) rings 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 are referred to as Big Rings (大きなリング,ōkina ringu?). In this game, 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.
For unknown reasons, the Giant Rings are not mentioned in the United States' version of the game's instruction manual.
Sonic the Hedgehog CD
In Sonic the Hedgehog CD, Giant Rings are used in the same way as in the original Sonic the Hedgehog. In this game, Giant Rings are called Special Rings (大きなリング,ōkina ringu?, lit. "Big ring"). They 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 Giant Ring appear, and jumping into it will transport the player to a Special Stage where they can obtain a Time Stone.
In Sonic Chaos, Giant Rings are referred to as Large Rings and they 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 holds 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 made a reappearance. In Sonic the Hedgehog 3, the Giant Ring is known as the giant Gold Ring (スペシャルリング,Supesharu ringu?, lit. "Special Ring"), and in Sonic & Knuckles it is known as the Special Ring (スペシャルリング,Supesharu ringu?).
Unlike in the original Sonic the Hedgehog and Sonic the Hedgehog CD, Giant Rings in these games are hidden in rooms throughout the Zones, with no prerequisite to make them appear. 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. Like in previous games, touching a Giant Ring in these games will transport the player to a Special Stage where they get the chance to obtain 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. Once all seven Chaos Emeralds have been collected in each of these games, touching a Giant Ring will grant the player fifty Rings instead.
In Sonic the Hedgehog 3 & Knuckles, a game attained by locking-on Sonic the Hedgehog 3 and Sonic & Knuckles to one, the Giant Rings are known as Special Rings. Other than that, they function the same as in the stand-alone games. Exclusive to this version of the game is the Super Ring (スーパーリング,Sūpā ringu?). These rings flash in multiple colors instead of gold. Touching one will transport the player to the Emerald Shrine in Hidden Palace Zone. Once there, any Chaos Emeralds that the player has collected will be transformed into large gray Emeralds. If the player jumps onto one of these Emeralds, they will be transported to one of the Special Stages from Sonic & Knuckles, for a chance to obtain a Super Emerald. If the player successfully completes one of these Special Stages, a short cut-scene will play, in which color is restored to the gray Emerald, making it a Super Emerald.
The first Super Ring is found at the beginning of Mushroom Hill Zone Act 1, in an area not accessible in Sonic & Knuckles. Further Super Rings only appear in Acts from Mushroom Hill Zone onwards if the player has collected all seven Chaos Emeralds, after which they will replace the Special Rings. Similar to Special Rings, the gameplay HUD starts flashing in multiple colors when the Super Rings are nearby. If the player has collected all seven Super Emeralds, touching a Super Ring will grant them fifty Rings.
In Knuckles' Chaotix, the giant Ring (スペシャルリング,Supesharu ringu?, lit. "Special Ring"), also alternatively spelled Giant Ring, have two different functions. There are several Giant Rings hidden around all five levels of each Zone of the game, but they will only appear if the player has twenty or more Rings. Touching one of these Giant Rings transports the player to the Bonus Stage. Additionally, a Giant Ring will appear at the end of each Attraction's Levels, excluding Level 5, if the player has 50+ Rings. Touching this type of Special Ring takes the player to the Special Stage for a chance to obtain a Chaos Ring.
In the Japanese release, the Giant Rings play a large role in the game's story. Dr. Robotnik discovered a Super Ring, an ancient Special Ring, identical to those on the Floating Island. The Special Ring was supposed to lead to the Master Emerald, but the Emerald had already been relocated to the Floating Island since ancient times. However, the dimensional space created by the Special Ring was filled with the Master Emerald Pillar's energy, some of which had crystallized into six Chaos Rings. After studying the Special Ring, Robotnik managed to crystallize the energy for himself, creating the artificial Dark Rings, which he used to power his machines. In a cut-scene before the final boss, Robotnik transformed his Special Ring into a giant Dark Ring.
Sonic 3D Blast
In Sonic 3D Blast (known as Sonic 3D: Flickies' Island in Europe), the Giant Rings are called Dimension Rings (ビッグリング,biggu ringu?, lit. "Big ring") 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 in the bad ending in the Saturn version of the game, a Giant Ring appears nearby Sonic that shows Robotnik with at least four Chaos Emeralds.
In Sonic Blast, the Giant Ring is called the Big Ring (スペシャルリング,Supesharu ringu?, lit. "Special Ring") and Giant Ring. In this game, Giant Rings are smaller than the playable character himself.
In gameplay, the Giant Rings function similarly to those in Sonic the Hedgehog 3. There is one Giant Ring hidden in Act 1 and Act 2 of every Zone. As with previous games, touching one will transport the player to a Special Stage. Unlike Sonic the Hedgehog 3, where Special Stages cycle in a set order, the Special Stages in Sonic Blast are specific to the Zone and Act they are entered. 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 World Missions in Sonic World, a single Big Ring (ビッグリング,Biggu ringu?, lit. "Big ring") appears above the river in front of the waterfall. The player can reach it by jumping onto the moving platform that will get the player into the range of it. This Giant Ring transports Sonic to somewhere unknown, while the game transitions to the end credits, before returning the player to the title screen.
In Sonic Adventure, a downloadable content from the Dreamcast version called "Y2K Celebration" features thirty-five spinning Giant Rings scattered around the Action Stages. These Giant Rings are large Rings with cyan bases in the middle with the text "MILLENIUM 2000 WELCOME!" written on them. One stationary Giant Ring can also be found in front of the train station in Station Square. If the player touches this Giant Ring, the BGM of japanese Palmtree Panic's present mix from Sonic the Hedgehog CD starts playing in the background.
In Sonic Advance 3, there are two types of Giant Rings. The first of these are named Factory Rings (ファクトリーリング,Fakutorī ringu?). 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 (アクトリング,Akutoringu?), which the player uses to access the game's various Acts.
In the mobile version of Sonic Unleashed, Giant Rings are found on their dedicated rooms on each Stage. When toughing the Giant Ring, it vanishes and amount of fifty-four Rings are scattered around the room to be collected.
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 transport the player to a SpecialStage where a Chaos Emerald can be obtained. In both games, they appear right above the Goal Plate at the end of the first and second Act of each Zone, if the player holds at least fifty Rings when reaching that point and has not already completed a Special Stage accessed via that Act.
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.
In Sonic Mania, and its expansion Sonic Mania Plus, the Giant Rings, here referred to as Huge Rings (巨大リング,Kyodai ringu?), are featured again to serve as portals that can take the player to a Special Stage when entered where a Chaos Emerald can be obtained. In this game, they appear as three-dimensional, polygonal rotating rings, as opposed to the sprite-based rings of the classics. After the Special Stage is cleared, the Giant Ring that was entered becomes a wire-frame and can no longer be entered until the player completes the game and revisits the Zone through a completed save file.
Like in Sonic the Hedgehog 3 and its add-on continuation Sonic & Knuckles, Giant Rings can be found throughout the different Zones' Acts where they are hidden inside small rooms. However, the Giant Rings cannot be entered in Time Attack mode or Competition mode. Generally speaking, Giant Rings can be found along the upper routes in the Acts, although the entrances to their rooms are not always easily spotted and such routes may require a specific playable character or be equipped with a specific shield to access them. Similar to Sonic the Hedgehog 3 & Knuckles, after all the Chaos Emeralds are collected, the Giant Rings will no longer transport the player, but instead they grant fifty Rings.
In Sonic Mania Plus' Encore Mode, Giant Rings are mostly in different places than those in Mania Mode.
In Debug Mode, if the player places a Giant Ring in an Act, using it will always grant fifty Rings regardless of the player's number of Chaos Emeralds (prior to Version 1.03 for consoles, they would function as normal).
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 used to transform Metal Sonic into Metal Sonic Kai. 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 transform him into Metal Sonic Kai.
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 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.
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 the classic act of Mushroom Hill Zone in Sonic Generations recycles its level layout from the first act of the 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 bothartworks of Sonic Jump and Sonic Dash, none of the aforementioned games actually featured Giant Rings at all.
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.
↑In early japanese game manuals, the Big Ring's name "大きなリング" used native hiragana syllabary for adjectival noun (大きな = big; large; great). Japanese manual of Sonic 3D: Flickies' Island for Sega Saturn and Sonic Jam Official Guide have the name "ビッグリング" with adjectival noun written in katakana (ビッグ = big).