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Are Sonic's rings digetic?


iDEATH

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So I've been wondering this for a while now, are the rings in the Sonic series digetic or not.

 

First a little explanation of what that means, the term "Digetic" is used to describe things in a film (it extends out to books too but I think the terms mean slightly different things in that instance) that exist within the universe of the film. In film it's usually used to describe music.

If a character puts on a CD of eye of the tiger, the music is digetic because it exists within the world of the film, the character himself actually hears it.

The use of eye of the tiger in a Rocky training montage, doesn't exist in the universe of the film, Rocky can't hear the song, it's used to evoke an emotion in the viewer. This type of music is classed as "Non-digetic".

 

The principle can be used in games too, while sound effects suchas sonic jumping probably be digetic, the music we hear is non-digetic. Extending it out to visuals, thins like the HUD, the score and timer are non-digetic also.

 

A while ago I got to wondering if the rings in the sonic games actually exist at all in the games universe. In the comics and tv shows, they definitely do. We see Sonic use power rings regularly to power himself up. They serve a different use than in the game and they're generally not shown to be lying all over the place like in the games, but they definitly exist. Sonic physically uses them.

 

In the games however, they serve no purpose other than to give sonic some form of health bar, they're there for the sake of the player, to give him a second hit before dieing.  They seem to be part of the game rather than the universe. Thinking back on any of the cinematic cutscenes in the game, I can't think of any that show rings lying around all over the place, suggesting they may only exist in the actual gameplay.

 

In the more recent games, rings are used as a form of currency, suggesting they exist in at least some form in the game's universe. But it seems highly unlikely that if the rings are actually valuable, that they'd be lying around without picking them up. hub levels like Soleana or the levels in unleashed, show Sonic walking around cities with rings scattered everywhere and people walking by them ignoring them. Imagine that in a real world context, you walking down the street seeing hundreds of pound coins lying in the road and people just walking past them, doesn't make much sense.

 

So I think that whilethe rings are digetic in some sense (they're definitly used as currency) the rings that we see in the hubs and levels, the one's Sonic picks up to protect himself, aren't part of the game's universe, existing solely to help the player and thus are non-digetic.

 

What do you guys think?

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Early game manuals (particularly the Japanese editions) of Sonic 3 & Knuckles as well as Knuckles Chaotix mention the rings having ancient symbols written on them.

 

http://info.sonicretro.org/Sonic_the_Hedgehog_3_JP_Manual

 

 

On an island far from where the floating island hit the sea surface, Tails, a two-tailed fox, read a strong Chaos Emerald reaction on the Jewel Reader, a machine he has developed.

 

"Maybe this has something to do with that big wave I saw a few days ago..." he said.

Thinking there may be trouble, he decided to consult with Sonic.

 

At the same moment, while relaxing on the beach, Sonic found a small ring washed up on shore. Sonic looked at the ring carefully, and noticed some ancient characters carved on it.

 

The ring reminded Sonic of a legend he once heard about a "mystery island."

 

If they aren't now, then they certainly used to be.

 

Also:

 

 

"Where does somebody put all those gold rings?!"

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Well, like you said, they've been used as currency, so they certainly are. You answered your own question there.

But are the stores canon to the story or are they just a non-digetic gameplay perk?  In Generations, for example, the skill shop is not located in any actual level, but on the far off end of the hub menu.  That leads me to assume that, in the case of Generations, the shops aren't digetic.

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Without a detailed in-universe explanation for what rings are and how they can and can't promulgate - which would be a bad idea and will never happen - I doubt that this can be answered.  My take would be that they're definitely diegetic, but their location and acquisition as presented on-screen (i.e. hovering, being absorbed into Sonic's body magnetically, flickering and fading into nothingness when lost) isn't necessarily so.

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In games where there is dialogue during gameplay the rings are mentioned every now and then. Sonic and Shadow switch places during Finalhazard in SA2 so the other can collect rings while the other fights. Sometimes when a character comes across a bunch of rings they say something about being lucky and some stages even require you to collect enough rings, like when Tails asks Shadow to get back the rings Eggman has gathered in Circus Park. And weren't Tails and Classic Tails wondering where Sonic keeps all the rings he collects in Generations (even though Tails should know that well enough considering he has collected quite a few as well in previous games.)?

 

Now how does having something you can literally find lying on streets work as a currency is beyond me but then again a lot of the time rings are found in pretty dangerous places so I guess that keeps their value somewhat in check. Then again that would mean that Sonic and other more adventurous people/animals are pretty much keeping the economy afloat. Eh, I dunno. But they are indeed digetic. 

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In games where there is dialogue during gameplay the rings are mentioned every now and then. Sonic and Shadow switch places during Finalhazard in SA2 so the other can collect rings while the other fights. Sometimes when a character comes across a bunch of rings they say something about being lucky and some stages even require you to collect enough rings, like when Tails asks Shadow to get back the rings Eggman has gathered in Circus Park. And weren't Tails and Classic Tails wondering where Sonic keeps all the rings he collects in Generations (even though Tails should know that well enough considering he has collected quite a few as well in previous games.)?

 

Now how does having something you can literally find lying on streets work as a currency is beyond me but then again a lot of the time rings are found in pretty dangerous places so I guess that keeps their value somewhat in check. Then again that would mean that Sonic and other more adventurous people/animals are pretty much keeping the economy afloat. Eh, I dunno. But they are indeed digetic. 

The gameplay exposition during the Finalhazard fight as well their usual in-game dialogue is pretty much as canon as Omochao's telling the character they need to press the B. button to do a somersault and that somersaults are important for getting you through those tight spaces.  I wouldn't use them as a reference, in any case.

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But are the stores canon to the story or are they just a non-digetic gameplay perk?  In Generations, for example, the skill shop is not located in any actual level, but on the far off end of the hub menu.  That leads me to assume that, in the case of Generations, the shops aren't digetic.

You also used them to get stuff like food in Unleashed.

 

Mind you, things are way more expensive in that world than ours', so that somewhat makes up for the fact that the money is so easily laying around to be collected.

 

It's a strange cartoon world, but the rings are certainly a part of it.

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Yeah rings definitely exist, but you just can't try and justify how much sense-making they are.  They're a gameplay element first and foremost, but they're as contradicting and inexplicable from game to game as anything - floating platforms, Sonic's moveset changing in each game, goal rings, etc.  At the very most you could say Sonic, considering he already has natural super powers, can harness their energy to his own purposes (thus "collecting" them, and losing focus and "dropping" them when hurt), whereas humans value them simply for their golden properties, thus accept them as currency in some places.  But... eh that still makes for so many holes and contradictions it's really not worth the headache.

 

 

 

By the way - god there's really no way to say this without coming off as a jerk - I really liked learning the terms of diegetic and non-diegetic music in film studies too during college, but was it really necessary when you could've just said "do rings actually exist in Sonic's world or are they just a gameplay mechanic for us?"  It's also spelled "diegetic" lol.

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As currency, probably yes, giant rings floating around everywhere; probably not, they arn't visible in cutscenes and characters take damage without losing them.Characters also seem to be able to take much more damage in cutscenes, seeming that they don't actually rely on rings.

 


  you could've just said "do rings actually exist in Sonic's world or are they just a gameplay mechanic for us?" 

 

Not exactly a catchy title.

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Well, as has been mentioned, they definitely exist, but to what point is a matter of debate.

Sonic picks the rings up in such huge numbers he's able to buy stuff with them. So, I know this is probably just overthinking, but I'm inclined to think that the world of Sonic suffers from severe inflation, hence why ordinary people would ignore them; in Weimar Germany, for example, there was so much money in circulation that people would burn it to keep warm.

We can also assume this is another reason the government in the games isn't able to fight Eggman: it is completely irresponsible and incompetent, and lacks the efficiency Eggman's Empire has. I wouldn't be surprised if the military and police of Sonic's world actually have corruption issues that render them easily bribed by industrial goods Eggman could pay them in - certainly much more valuable than currency that's lying everywhere.

Of course, the main issue here is that the rings, unlike real money, aren't just fiat in value: regardless of canon they're hailed as having some sort of magical or otherwise powerful property. Which leads me to believe that rings' innate abilities can only be utilised by a select few - usually animals. This would likewise explain why ordinary people would find them worthless, as they can't gain energy from them, nor do they hold value in spending. Sonic simply picks up so many rings he's able to overcome inflation, as well as being able to make use of their power.

Now, this whole inflation idea runs into issues in that SEGA doesn't depict their cities as run down and decrepit (inflation tends to accompany economic collapse), but maybe he's only in the areas of town that are prosperous or so remote that currency isn't much of an issue.

Or I'm just overthinking. But hey, this idea sounds cool to me at least.

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Well, part of the thing is that originally, the games wouldn't have had to explain the use of rings, it was just a platforming must, something the player can collect, a health bar like you said.

 

But as the games have got on, the story has been expanded, as technology demanded, and thus SEGA would've had to come up with a way to explain their appearance and how they work in the universe. They've yet to explicitly give us these details, so wild speculation based on game references is the only way to go.

 

Let's consider a couple factors here. Obviously, the Score and Ring Counter are non-digetic, along with other elements of the HUD. So how does Sonic keep track of the rings he collects? Mentally? I guess so. In the boost games, the rings contributed to the boost bar, so the rings clearly give some kind of energy, as it's acknowledged in a few games. So the rings, if Sonic notices them and acknowledges their existence MUST be digetic.

 

But if so, WHY do they exist, where do they come from? We'll probably never find out.

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Actually, in all the main Game Gear games, a single ring is dispensed upon defeating an enemy.  I don't know if that means they were used to power it or if they just thought they were being too strict with the rings, but still worth a note.

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Actually, in all the main Game Gear games, a single ring is dispensed upon defeating an enemy.  I don't know if that means they were used to power it or if they just thought they were being too strict with the rings, but still worth a note.

Yeah, that's what I meant.

 

That would mean they can be used as a power source similar to the comics.

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They also pop out of badniks in Sonic Advance 3, oddly enough (the other games in that subseries just have the usual animals).

 

But yeah, I assume Rings are part of the universe, at least as currency. I kind of like to assume the Rings can act as a power source ala SATam/the comics, perhaps even for Sonic himself as well as machines. The last thing is supported by the Boost, if we assume needing Rings to use it is an in-universe thing.

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I assume he could deposit them all at a bank in between levels and/or adventures. It'd be sort of like a Coinstar.

It is really humorous that the games' writing actually pokes fun at how strange the concept is, of course. Since even if he dropped them all at a bank, he has to keep them SOMEWHERE between bank runs.

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In games where there is dialogue during gameplay the rings are mentioned every now and then. Sonic and Shadow switch places during Finalhazard in SA2 so the other can collect rings while the other fights. Sometimes when a character comes across a bunch of rings they say something about being lucky and some stages even require you to collect enough rings, like when Tails asks Shadow to get back the rings Eggman has gathered in Circus Park. And weren't Tails and Classic Tails wondering where Sonic keeps all the rings he collects in Generations (even though Tails should know that well enough considering he has collected quite a few as well in previous games.)?

 

As has been mentioned before, exposition like this is most likely uncanon in the first place. It's in the same veign as the omochao tutorials.

 

 

By the way - god there's really no way to say this without coming off as a jerk - I really liked learning the terms of diegetic and non-diegetic music in film studies too during college, but was it really necessary when you could've just said "do rings actually exist in Sonic's world or are they just a gameplay mechanic for us?"  It's also spelled "diegetic" lol.

 

I guess I could have, but then those who didn't know the term wouldn't learn :P

 

Can't really see the problem with using the term anyway, I mean...it's the correct term....

 

Sonic picks the rings up in such huge numbers he's able to buy stuff with them. So, I know this is probably just overthinking, but I'm inclined to think that the world of Sonic suffers from severe inflation, hence why ordinary people would ignore them; in Weimar Germany, for example, there was so much money in circulation that people would burn it to keep warm.

 

 

This is my favourite explanation in this whole topic. I want this made canon.

 

 

In the boost games, the rings contributed to the boost bar, so the rings clearly give some kind of energy, as it's acknowledged in a few games. So the rings, if Sonic notices them and acknowledges their existence MUST be digetic.

 

 

This, again, could be boiled down to a simple game mechanic, Sonic, in the real world (you know what I mean) might not need them to get the boost effect.

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The gameplay exposition during the Finalhazard fight as well their usual in-game dialogue is pretty much as canon as Omochao's telling the character they need to press the B. button to do a somersault and that somersaults are important for getting you through those tight spaces.  I wouldn't use them as a reference, in any case.

 

Except it's not? You can't dismiss Prownage's Final Hazard statement if it is true that the characters themselves acknowledge they need rings to maintain super form, They even banter back and forth about taking damage and requesting they swap out whilst they collect rings to regenerate their power, It's not just a gameplay mechanic as much as the characters also being self aware of their own needs to maintain super form i.e. feeling weaker with lesser rings. The difference between Omochao and their talk within the game is that Omochao is talking to the player, whilst Sonic/Shadow are talking each other during battle, whilst giving the player a hint that they should switch out, otherwise it'd be all "Hey switch out already!" instead of Sonic/Shadow directly speaking to each other in-game.

 

What about Sonic using rings as pathways with his lightspeed dash? Or is that just classed as a gameplay mechanic for the player only?

 

I think Heroes does a good job of making them self aware of rings due to the varying dialogue when they find secret ring stashes, or their team banter during the Casino stages.

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Except it's not? You can't dismiss Prownage's Final Hazard statement if it is true that the characters themselves acknowledge they need rings to maintain super form, They even banter back and forth about taking damage and requesting they swap out whilst they collect rings to regenerate their power, It's not just a gameplay mechanic as much as the characters also being self aware of their own needs to maintain super form i.e. feeling weaker with lesser rings. The difference between Omochao and their talk within the game is that Omochao is talking to the player, whilst Sonic/Shadow are talking each other during battle, whilst giving the player a hint that they should switch out, otherwise it'd be all "Hey switch out already!" instead of Sonic/Shadow directly speaking to each other in-game.

 

What about Sonic using rings as pathways with his lightspeed dash? Or is that just classed as a gameplay mechanic for the player only?

 

I think Heroes does a good job of making them self aware of rings due to the varying dialogue when they find secret ring stashes, or their team banter during the Casino stages.

Omochao specifically says Sonic's name in Crazy Gadget, so you could just as easily argue that he's also a canonical tutorial character, and I'm sure we're all just going to tack this on to bad writing, but why would Sonic and Shadow be referencing how to do things that you would assume they'd already know, such as gameplay mechanics in super forms and the process of self-regenerating rings?  Also, I contest that Sonic and Shadow's explanations are not by any stretch of the word subtle hints veiled with dialogue as they are outright explaining the mechanics just like Omochao.  The only reason the two address each other is because you're playing as them at that given time.

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Mmm the only issue I have with ignoring the canon of the dialogue in Finalhazard is... if they aren't taking it in turns because they need to go grab rings... what are they doing?  I mean unless you just see the gameplay as 100% "game" that merely represents the story, and in reality they just did a whole lot of... well the Sonic X adaptation I guess where they just fly around a whole bunch attacking him occasionally.

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Mmm the only issue I have with ignoring the canon of the dialogue in Finalhazard is... if they aren't taking it in turns because they need to go grab rings... what are they doing?

Catching their breaths, metaphorically speaking.
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Mmm the only issue I have with ignoring the canon of the dialogue in Finalhazard is... if they aren't taking it in turns because they need to go grab rings... what are they doing?  I mean unless you just see the gameplay as 100% "game" that merely represents the story, and in reality they just did a whole lot of... well the Sonic X adaptation I guess where they just fly around a whole bunch attacking him occasionally.

It was through their combined efforts that they managed to use Chaos Control to be rid of the Finalhazard, so I tend to think the whole taking turns thing is just gameplay, really.  You could make the argument that they were just taking turns weakening it until they could pull off a Mortal Kombat-style fatality, but honestly, there's not much to base that off of, nor is there enough to suggest that they were together.  So really, it seems to me that aside from the time limit you have before the ARK collides with the earth and the fact that you are using the super forms in the first place, there really is no visible line one way or the other to suggest where the story and gameplay intertwine.

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