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MetalSkulkBane

Filling Blanks: Sonic Rings

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(Should I make it another "filling the blanks"? Eh, no one likes those anyway.)

There are few more iconic images in this franchise than golden rings that Sonic collects in almost every game. And yet we have no idea what they are and arguably the don't even exist story-wise.

But that would be boring answer, so let's dig deeper. Besides, there are very few game that acknowledge existence of rings: SA1 (Casinopolis), Heroes (one of Chaotix missions) Shadow (Tails mission), Sonic Rivals 2 (Knuckles and Silver story) and kinda Sonic Unleashed (Light Speed Shoes).

0) For starters I need to point there are numerous kinds of rings. One of most common are Warp Rings, like ones Sonic used in the movie, or leading to special stage or next act. Red Star Rings, Chaos Rings, Sling Rings, list is long. Let's focus on Classic Golden Rings.

!) First thought is just "money" ala Mario Coins. But then why rings, not IDK gems or money bags? it makes more sense that this is "Donkey Kong Bananas" situation, where rings are so valuable that CAN be used as currency, even though they have other usage.

2) I think we can all agree than temporary invincibility or Super Sonic fuel is purely gameplay mechanic. We seen plenty cutscenes where Sonic goes Super and he never mentioned checking for rings. Or gets hit and no rings fall from him.

3) So most popular idea is that they are strange fuel, either for machines or living beings. I'll also make a hypothesis that most other rings (Tails Skypatrol Weapon, Shadow Inhibitors) are probably Golden Rings modified to server this purpose. Tails claimed that Circus Park is made of rings, so it make sense they can be used as building material.

So far I (mostly) just reiterated facts from the game, but that still doesn't explain what rings are.

My theory is that they are small portion chaos energy condensed into physical object. They usually appear around objects of great Chaos Energy (like Emeralds), but due to their chaotic nature they can be anywhere (maybe even on Planet Wisp or Blaze Dimension. or maybe those instances are not canon). Maybe they really do float, or lay anywhere or have to be mined like coal, but Eggman regularly uses them for his machines. And Sonic keeping hundred of rings despite having no pockets is just cartoon logic that we must accept from this world. (According to Sonic News/Unused Dialogue from Generations even Tails doesn't know what Sonic does with all those rings).

And what do you guys think?

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I'd probably move away from the condensed Chaos Energy angle, and more towards a physical manifestation of the Planet's essence, or life-force. That way, you can kind of account for them in the absence of Chaos Energy, such as other planets or dimensions. 

 

My take has been that in area's of abundant life, that font of energy manifests itself as golden rings. They can be collected, and since they are in a sense solidified energy - they would fit in with the game mechanics (ring energy for boost, life preservation, super sonic fuel, ect) as well as have a tangible value to them that could be leveraged as a currency. 

It also would add credence to the lack of rings present in many of the harder stages, as those levels tend to take place in and around Eggman bases, which deplete natural resources and limit the natural generation of rings. 

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4 hours ago, MetalSkulkBane said:

They usually appear around objects of great Chaos Energy (like Emeralds)

Odd statement to say "like Emeralds" since the only things that canonically make Chaos Emerald energy are the 7 Chaos Emeralds, the Master Emerald, and fake Emeralds (possibly including Chaos Drives as mini fake Emeralds). "Chaos energy" is not a canon term either - it has only appeared in the comics and the definitely non-canon Sonic Chronicles.

Though I do like your theory on Rings. Perhaps you can say that as the Emeralds give off the infinite energy they create from turning thoughts to power, it is not all absorbed by the plants, animals, islands, and whatever else in the surroundings, and instead crystalizes into Rings.

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7 hours ago, Sega DogTagz said:

I'd probably move away from the condensed Chaos Energy angle, and more towards a physical manifestation of the Planet's essence, or life-force. That way, you can kind of account for them in the absence of Chaos Energy, such as other planets or dimensions.

My take has been that in area's of abundant life, that font of energy manifests itself as golden rings. They can be collected, and since they are in a sense solidified energy - they would fit in with the game mechanics (ring energy for boost, life preservation, super sonic fuel, ect) as well as have a tangible value to them that could be leveraged as a currency. 

It also would add credence to the lack of rings present in many of the harder stages, as those levels tend to take place in and around Eggman bases, which deplete natural resources and limit the natural generation of rings. 

That is possible. This is what a Wisp, that Tails translates for, says about the Power Rings from Sonic Runners: "He says that Power Rings are special rings which have accumulated a special energy as a result of being out in nature for a long time. Apparently, they can make anyone who collects enough of them extremely powerful..."

We already know regular Gold Rings have powerful energy as seen in games like Sonic Advance 3 where Eggman uses them to power his Badniks, but this seems to imply that Gold Rings can continue to absorb even more energy over time. Even the big Special Rings that take you to the Special Stage dimension can absorb energy as confirmed in the Japanese manual of Knuckles' Chaotix where it's explained the Crystal Rings were created from the Special Rings absorbing power from the Master Emerald. The same game also introduces Dark Rings, artificial rings that Eggman used to power his robots. They are apparently less powerful then normal rings since they disintegrate the moment they are freed.

Much like the Chaos Emeralds, we don't know where they came from. The Gold Rings are just one of many fascinating mysteries of Sonic's World.

9 hours ago, MetalSkulkBane said:

2) I think we can all agree than temporary invincibility or Super Sonic fuel is purely gameplay mechanic. We seen plenty cutscenes where Sonic goes Super and he never mentioned checking for rings. Or gets hit and no rings fall from him.

I think that is still debatable, for example the entire reason you switch back and fourth between Super Sonic & Super Shadow during the FinalHazard fight in Sonic Adventure 2 is so the other can gather more rings. "Shadow! How's your ring energy? Before you're depleted, make sure to change places with me to collect more rings." Depending on how low your ring count is and how fast you switch characters, both Sonic & Shadow can say they don't enough rings for their Super Form. While this could just be a tutorial like-thing you're just supposed ignore like "Hold the X button to build up power, then release it to throw the Chaos Spear.", I don't think it's as obvious as something like that. The fight does contain important plot information, mostly about why Shadow "dies" in the end, so just because it's outside a cutscene I don't think it's something to disregard.

Quote

According to Sonic News/Unused Dialogue from Generations even Tails doesn't know what Sonic does with all those rings

That is only in the English script, in the Japanese version Classic Tails in talking about the mech Tails used in Sonic Adventure 2.

Classic Tails: You added legs to the plane? What have you done to Sonic's Tornado?
Modern Tails: Yeah...I guess I really did go overboard with the legs..."

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7 hours ago, Sega DogTagz said:

I'd probably move away from the condensed Chaos Energy angle, and more towards a physical manifestation of the Planet's essence, or life-force. That way, you can kind of account for them in the absence of Chaos Energy, such as other planets or dimensions. 

Who's to say places without chaos energy even exist? We know the emeralds can warp spacetime, they're often found in their own weird little pocket dimension, they've shown up in both Sonic's world and the human world, the Black Arms knew about them, and Blaze's dimension has its own equivalent set of emeralds.

And considering even the Gaias had some connection to the emeralds it wouldn't be hard to argue that chaos energy is the lifeforce of the planet.

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2 hours ago, Diogenes said:

Who's to say places without chaos energy even exist? We know the emeralds can warp spacetime, they're often found in their own weird little pocket dimension, they've shown up in both Sonic's world and the human world, the Black Arms knew about them, and Blaze's dimension has its own equivalent set of emeralds.

And considering even the Gaias had some connection to the emeralds it wouldn't be hard to argue that chaos energy is the lifeforce of the planet.

That last part! It’s that some places have their own equivalents of the Chaos Emeralds, Sol simply being a good example. The Little Planet/Death Egg II had the (likely destroyed) Time Stones, the storybooks have their own powerups skin to them, etc. 

 

There is also the ability to create an artificial containment for the Chaos Emeralds, as shown in Sonic Colors. There are also some locations that do not seem tied to any Emeralds at all, like Lost Hex.

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I dunno, I sway to the Chaos Energy theory too. The way they also have spacetime warping capabilities, fuel Super Sonic, keep Sonic invulnerable and how they're often the key to entering the special stages where the Emeralds lurk. Sonic X also outright states they're the result of leftover energy when the Emeralds go berserk. I wonder if that was a detail that came from Sonic Team's involvement or not.

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I like the idea that rings are mysterious relics that no one really knows the answer to (one of the things SatAM tried to answer) and I think it's a missed opportunity to not even 'hint' at a bigger picture for them. Practically, Sonic and co can collect these "energy cells" for protection and energy, and others will mine them as a resource for currency once their energy properties fade out. But as for backstories, I like to go deeper than needed. :P 

I had this in my own personal headcanon that the standard golden power rings are 'energy cells' that play some role in making the universe tick. This sort of has to come along with the idea that the Special Zone is some extradimensional realm that creates and maintains the stability of different worlds, including Sonic's: the rings are "created" in the Special Zone, starting life as Blue Spheres until they either naturally transform or are interacted with a certain way. Once they become rings, they travel through those half-pipes to their destination, not unlike blood cells in a vessel, being whisked away to wherever they're needed; providing energy and healing to different worlds to keep their life energy active. 

Normally, rings work behind the veil, unseen or rarely seen... but because Sonic's world in particular is the most common resting place for the Chaos Emeralds and a hotbed for Eggman's shenanigans, there's a lot of instability in the space-time rift, explaining why you'll occasionally just see warp points lying around the place. If you think of the rings as "blood cells" and the warp points as "wounds", it's as if the rings are bleeding all over the planet. They can be used to enter the Special Zone when enough of their energy is collected (generally to the number of 50) and interacted with at certain weak points in reality. 

Anyway, that's my long-winded non-canon thoughts on the origins and properties of rings. No idea what Red Rings could be. 

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They're probably natural energy batteries or condensed bits of raw energy formed from the environment around them. They gain their energy from the planet's essence, Chaos Energy, Hyper Go On Power, cosmic energy, geothermal energy, solar power and a bunch of other sources, explaining how they're everywhere. They are the main source of powering things in Mobius (or Sonic's World or whatever), so they are valuable and used as currency.

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Yeah, I've always found it strange that out of all the exposition on various aspects of the Sonic universe that series has given us, such a fundamental thing as the rings has never been one of them. I kinda wonder why.

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16 hours ago, Indigo Rush said:

I like the idea that rings are mysterious relics that no one really knows the answer to (one of the things SatAM tried to answer) and I think it's a missed opportunity to not even 'hint' at a bigger picture for them. Practically, Sonic and co can collect these "energy cells" for protection and energy, and others will mine them as a resource for currency once their energy properties fade out. But as for backstories, I like to go deeper than needed. :P 

I had this in my own personal headcanon that the standard golden power rings are 'energy cells' that play some role in making the universe tick. This sort of has to come along with the idea that the Special Zone is some extradimensional realm that creates and maintains the stability of different worlds, including Sonic's: the rings are "created" in the Special Zone, starting life as Blue Spheres until they either naturally transform or are interacted with a certain way. Once they become rings, they travel through those half-pipes to their destination, not unlike blood cells in a vessel, being whisked away to wherever they're needed; providing energy and healing to different worlds to keep their life energy active. 

Normally, rings work behind the veil, unseen or rarely seen... but because Sonic's world in particular is the most common resting place for the Chaos Emeralds and a hotbed for Eggman's shenanigans, there's a lot of instability in the space-time rift, explaining why you'll occasionally just see warp points lying around the place. If you think of the rings as "blood cells" and the warp points as "wounds", it's as if the rings are bleeding all over the planet. They can be used to enter the Special Zone when enough of their energy is collected (generally to the number of 50) and interacted with at certain weak points in reality. 

Anyway, that's my long-winded non-canon thoughts on the origins and properties of rings. No idea what Red Rings could be. 

Given their use in Colors, Robotnik may have tainted groups of rings to become Red Rings and serve as the locks for his own containment system for the emeralds. Other games seem to indicate that they are easy to make.

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For me Golden  Rings are the "normal" rings and rest can be split into 2 categories

1) Rare variants
Red Rings, Power Rings, , those blue rings in Mania/Knuckles Chaotix. As long as it's just floats in the level, it's just a are subtype of Golden Ring, with  vague special properties.
Or you know, they purely gameplay. Golden Rings are offical, but I can exept that SilverMoon Medal from Sonic Forces aren't meant  to be part of complex lore.

2) Craftsmen
Shadow inhibitor rings, Skypatrol Weapon, those rings boosts in Sonic Chronicles, Sling Rings from Knuckles Chaotix.Those are actual mobian-made devices that were  probably made from Golden Rings.

I'm not sure in which category Warp Rings get into. I guess there are both wild ones (special stage) and mobian-made (Sonic movie) variants.

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I tend to gravitate towards them being physical manifestation of energy too that Sonic and other superheroic characters have the talent to utilise where others don't.  The only snarl for me is when they're used as currency in games with really down-to-earth shops.

In 2006 you could justify it as you're mostly buying upgrades and technology that could theoretically be constructed using ring energy much as Eggman and Tails have done, but in a game like Unleashed where you're visiting regular grocery stands and using floating energy-filled ephemeral occurances to buy a sandwich, that does break the fiction a bit as to the economics of Sonic's world.  Easier to write off that inconsistency as a non-canon gameplay thing than disregard the energy-related headcanon though.  Maybe if you wanted to be super pedantic, we could say that the instant use of rings to purchase things is a gameplay convenience for the audience, when in reality, Tails has a way to convert the energy rings that Sonic has used up out in the field into genuine gold material, which they then trade for local currency where such a service is maintained.

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Seeing that nothing was really given that much depht in the games franchise, I'm not surprised that the rings weren't too. Even the Chaos Emeralds are in the same boat in a way (we don't know  much about their origin either).

Sonic 3D Blast (and now the movie) showed us that the rings can be used to travel through places, like dimensions.

But what about the Chaos Rings from Knuckles' Chaotix? Would they be another kind of rings or just "evolved rings"?

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1 hour ago, Liars said:

But what about the Chaos Rings from Knuckles' Chaotix? Would they be another kind of rings or just "evolved rings"?

That was explained in Japanese manual. They were created by Master Emerald being so close to surface of the planet during Sonic 3. The "Isolated Island" used to be part of Echidna Civilization and (considering numerous kinds of rings found in this game) place where rings were studied, build or something like this. It sunk after Chaos, but again, Master Emerald now pulled it out of the ocean.

Chaos Rings are said to just appear in "mysterious dimensional space" aka Special Zone. It is implied they are special kind of Warp Rings and that they could lead Eggman to Master Emerald.

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11 minutes ago, MetalSkulkBane said:

That was explained in Japanese manual. They were created by Master Emerald being so close to surface of the planet during Sonic 3. The "Isolated Island" used to be part of Echidna Civilization and (considering numerous kinds of rings found in this game) place where rings were studied, build or something like this. It sunk after Chaos, but again, Master Emerald now pulled it out of the ocean.

Chaos Rings are said to just appear in "mysterious dimensional space" aka Special Zone. It is implied they are special kind of Warp Rings and that they could lead Eggman to Master Emerald.

That's interesting. I didn't know that, thanks.

That's also on the english manual or is it japanese only?

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It's money. You buy stuff with rings in the games; from fruit and eggs in the Chao World to upgrades from regular human merchants in games like Sonic 06 and Sonic Chronicles.

Even story cutscenes and dialogue talk about rings as if they're just money. In Circus Park in Shadow the Hedgehog, Eggman "stole rings from all around the world" to finance his big dumb carnival. In the classic games, you bet rings on slot machines as well. 

They're just currency - currency that may have some energy or powerful properties to them, but currency nonetheless.

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1 hour ago, Dr. Mechano said:

It's money. You buy stuff with rings in the games; from fruit and eggs in the Chao World to upgrades from regular human merchants in games like Sonic 06 and Sonic Chronicles.

Even story cutscenes and dialogue talk about rings as if they're just money. In Circus Park in Shadow the Hedgehog, Eggman "stole rings from all around the world" to finance his big dumb carnival. In the classic games, you bet rings on slot machines as well. 

They're just currency - currency that may have some energy or powerful properties to them, but currency nonetheless.

Rings are indeed currency in SA and post SA games. In all games rings are your life line, get 000 and impaled on spikes or hit by an enemy and you die. In the comics, shows, and movies rings act as portals to other zones and a means to make Sonic “go faster.” 

It seems the rings like onion rings, have many layers. 

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it is fun to contemplate how they rotate constantly, and even exist in the outer space regions around the planet!  I think that IndigoRush is very tuned in with the idea that they are something that emerges from other dimensions. 

That allows a viable canonical explanation for why, Death Egg and Flying Battery in S3K are fully stocked with powerups, and also why there are rings in the Doomsday zone area.  Some type of other dimensional lifeforms ( directly equivalent to the game developers!) would be aware of the journeys that the various characters would be taking, and supply them ahead of time.  Eggman would not be able to stop this process, if he is able to even figure out that it happens, because the presence of rings and powerups probably just seems inevitable, one assumes it was happening long prior to the events of Sonic 1 even! 

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8 minutes ago, expansivelovestories said:

it is fun to contemplate how they rotate constantly, and even exist in the outer space regions around the planet!  I think that IndigoRush is very tuned in with the idea that they are something that emerges from other dimensions. 

That allows a viable canonical explanation for why, Death Egg and Flying Battery in S3K are fully stocked with powerups, and also why there are rings in the Doomsday zone area.  Some type of other dimensional lifeforms ( directly equivalent to the game developers!) would be aware of the journeys that the various characters would be taking, and supply them ahead of time.  Eggman would not be able to stop this process, if he is able to even figure out that it happens, because the presence of rings and powerups probably just seems inevitable, one assumes it was happening long prior to the events of Sonic 1 even! 

The Rings could also be an allegory of infinity, that they are tied to zones and demensions across space. It could be a  counterbalance to Robotnik’s obession with dominace via robotics, that no matter how hard the Eggman tries, he will be unable to capture infinity and dominate all zones. Instead the rings are his undoing, the defense mechanism of the creation against pseudo-creation; nature vs machine. 

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The rings composition changing depending on location does actually explain the differences in the ring loss system between different games. Sonic's metabolism isn't used to the rings from the books, which is why they just vanish when he is struck. 

(Go ahead and make this a "filling in the blanks" topic here)

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