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The Phantom Ruby prototype is an object that appears in the Sonic the Hedgehog series. It is a type of artificial duplicates of the Phantom Ruby created by Dr. Eggman that possess similar powers as the original, but with more restrictions to their usage.
After experimenting with lots of prototypes, Eggman created the final version, which was incorporated into Infinite.
The Phantom Ruby prototypes possess similar traits and degree of power over reality manipulation and sensory deception as the original Phantom Ruby. However, most of them possess a defect that makes each prototype unusable to anyone else except the one that first triggered it. Secondly, they can only be activated by those that possess a strong will or a strong character.
When a Phantom Ruby prototype is pitted against another Phantom Ruby, their virtual reality manipulations will cancel each other out. If pushed too far however, the Phantom Ruby prototype will be destroyed.
The Phantom Ruby prototypes were created by Dr. Eggman in his secret lab in Mystic Jungle, where the doctor conducted analyses of the original Phantom Ruby. However, most of them had one or several fatal flaws that proved too risky to use effectively. After experimenting with lots of prototypes however, Eggman created the finalized version, which was fused with Eggman's army commander, Infinite, whose strong will allowed him to activate it and harness its power.
In Sonic Forces, six months after the War to Take Back the Planet began, Eggman and Infinite went about destroying the remaining Phantom Ruby prototypes so they could not potentially throw a wrench in their plans. While retrieving the prototypes from Eggman's closed lab in Mystic Jungle however, Infinite ended up battling Silver the Hedgehog, who made him drop a prototype without knowing it. The prototype Infinite dropped was later discovered by the Avatar, who proved able to activate it with their innate heroism and courage.
In the aftermath of Operation Big Wave, Infinite found himself engaging the Avatar in combat in Metropolis. During the battle, the Avatar unintentionally used their Phantom Ruby prototype to avoid a killing blow from Infinite's own Phantom Ruby, much to the latter’s surprise. Still, that did not stop Infinite from defeating the Avatar and leaving them to be killed by Eggman's endgame.
At the climax of the war, Infinite used his Phantom Ruby to create a virtual sun above the planet to burn the Resistance and the world with. However, Tails soon discovered the Phantom Ruby prototype the Avatar possessed. Following Tails' instructions, the Avatar made the virtual sun Infinite created disappear with their prototype, which got destroyed after its usage. Sonic and the Avatar later followed Infinite's Phantom Ruby into the Eggman Empire Fortress Phantom Ruby reactor, which housed several Phantom Ruby prototypes. These rubies were all subsequently destroyed when Sonic and the Avatar blew up the reactor.
Despite the Phantom Ruby prototype's powers being described as virtual reality, the correct term for their primary usage would actual be augmented reality, which is when another reality is laid on top of another, whereas virtual reality is when an entirely new one is made.
↑ 1.01.11.21.3Sonic Team (7 November 2017). Sonic Forces. Nintendo Switch. Area/Level: Green Hill. "Infinite: And with that, the disposal of the Phantom Ruby prototypes is complete. / Dr. Eggman: It was a defective model. It could only record the DNA of the one that triggered it. / Infinite: Only a being with my strength of will could ever activate it. / Dr. Eggman: It doesn't matter now with the lab locked down in Mystic Jungle."
↑ 2.02.1Sonic Team (7 November 2017). Sonic Forces. Nintendo Switch. Area/Level: Imperial Tower. "Tails: Whoa, it is. He said the Phantom Ruby prototypes only react to the person who activated it. That must be you, buddy. Your courage and heroism are probably what triggered it."
↑Sonic Team (7 November 2017). Sonic Forces (Episode Shadow). Nintendo Switch. Area/Level: Eggman's Facility. "Dr. Eggman: Unbelievable ! He's getting deeper and deeper into the facility! That computer running analysis in the core is invaluable!"
↑Sonic Team (7 November 2017). Sonic Forces (Episode Shadow). Nintendo Switch. Area/Level: Eggman's Facility. "Dr. Eggman: Ugh. At least the analysis of the stone was completed yesterday, but... No, I still can't let this facility be destroyed! Is there ANYONE left out there!?"
↑Sonic Team (7 November 2017). Sonic Forces. Nintendo Switch. Area/Level: World Map. "Tails: Eggman experimented with lots of prototypes, and then incorporated the final version into Infinite."