A Ring Menu (also known as a radial menu or a Pie Menu
) is an interface element
where a list of possible actions are displayed in a ring or circle, often centered around a character.
This type of menu is navigated in two general methods:
- Using the directional pad or buttons to rotate the menu like a wheel, with the item in the center being the one highlighted for use.
- Using an analog stick, a mouse, or a motion controller to "point" in the direction of the desired item, while the menu itself remains stationary.
A practical upshot of this format is that it can hide the fact that not all options are yet available to the player, since removing one option will not leave an empty space behind
. The second type also has the advantage of being quicker than a traditional menu, sometimes quick enough to be accessed without having to pause the actual gameplay in progress.
Type 1 - Spin the wheel
- The World of Mana series, if not the Ur-Example, is likely the Trope Maker, using a ring menu system in almost every game of the series.
- Alien Soldier, although it doesn't pause the action.
- Metroid Prime 2 had a variation in which menu options were displayed emanating from a central node, and the user rotated the menu in three dimensions to bring one node to the front.
- The inventory from Escape from Monkey Island, in a variation similar to the one from Metroid Prime 2.
- Odin Sphere uses separate rings for each inventory pouch in the player's possession.
- Persona 3's battle menu.
- Secret of Evermore, which was built using an engine which mimicked the Mana game engine.
- Tomb Raiders 1, 2, 3, and Anniversary, for both its frontend and in-game menus.
- WarioWare: Twisted!, with the variation that since the game cartridge featured a tilt sensor, you had to tilt the GBA itself to cycle through them.
- The inventory menus in Bayonetta are rings. Sub-menus, menus outside gameplay, and Rodin's inventory in the Gates of Hell are traditional linear menus.
- The first Grandia had this in its battle menu, going in one direction, left - right/right to left. The third game had this and would be able to go up - down/down-up as well in a sphere.
- Donkey Kong 64 has this in its primary menu screen.
- Golden Axe used this to select your player character.
- Jak II and 3 use this style to switch between sub menus (options, missions, secrets, etc.) in the pause menu.
- PlayStation demo discs in the PAL region (the ones that were made by Sony, anyway) have this menu type on most discs to select whichever game demo you want to play or watch. There were two variations of this format: one facing upwards◊ (older discs) and one facing downwards◊ (later discs). The amount of content varied from disc to disc; the maximum amount of content available on the menu seemed to be twelve (though the amount of Net Yaroze games featured on some of the discs (which were under a separate menu) brought this total upwards), but earlier discs typically had four or five, with a couple of them having as few as three.
- Thunder Blade had a letter wheel on the arcade version's name entry screen, for no better reason than to make one more use of zooming sprites.
- The Racing Game Screamer had a menu for name entry with letters on rotating cubes, a gratuitous demonstration of what could be done with textured polygons.
- Virtue's Last Reward had all of your inventory items in a ring. Most rooms didn't have too many at once, but it could get frustrating rotating through the items in the lounge.
- Live A Live shows sprites of the seven protagonists in a ring for the "Select Scenario" screen. An eighth appears once you complete the first seven scenarios.
Type 2 - Point to select
- America's Army 3
- Half-Life mod Natural Selection expanded this into point to select submenus — to build something, for example, you opened the ring menu with left click, then you moved the mouse left to "Buildings", then you moved the mouse up or down to select a type of building, then you selected the building.
- First Arc the Lad had this in battles.
- A Boy and His Blob for the Wii
- The Battlefield series trademarked "Commo Rose" for voice communications, featured in Battlefield 2 Battlefield 2142.
- Dragon Age, mostly in the console versions much like Mass Effect
- The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess used this for Link's inventory items specifically to avoid an Interface Spoiler — although it still provided a separate 'Quest Status' screen with a traditional layout.
- Skyward Sword has two rings, one for weaponry such as bombs and the bow, the other for miscellaneous equipment; however, the design in this case invoked an Interface Spoiler, as both rings had an identifiable number of slots. You had to physically point the Wii Mote at what you wanted to select.
- Hyrule Warriors had two versions of the item inventory. One which just cycled from left two right, but the other was a direct copy of the Skyward Sword menu. The difference being that you touch the Gamepad's screen to select the item rather than pointing the Wiimote, and they only display as many slots as you have items, so there is no interface spoiler. With all the items you get in the game, this means there are 5 slots, but you can potentially go up to 7 or as low as 4 depending on the mission and if you choose to use the limited items.
- Mass Effect's abilities, as shown in the page image, are displayed like this in the console versions; the PC version has a traditional◊ menu◊ for pointing at with the mouse. The dialog system◊ also uses a ring menu.
- The Metroid Prime series used this to switch between Samus's visors and beam weapons. In the Nintendo GameCube originals they corresponded to the controller's directional pad and second analog stick respectively; Metroid Prime 3 (and the Trilogy edition) made this explicit by overlaying the menu across the game screen for selection with the motion controls.
- Portal 2: In co-operative play, this is used to place markers indicating where your testing partner should look, place a portal, press a button and so on. Gestures are also selected this way.
- Ratchet & Clank series: Ratchet's quick-select menu (and Clank's action menu). Later games even expanded the menu to hold two or more 'pages' of items.
- Red Dead Redemption when selecting weapons.
- Resistance: Fall of Man and Resistance 2
- Saints Row uses a type 2 with two such wheels: a larger one holding guns selected with the left stick, and a smaller one for food/drugs selected with the D-pad. The Third changes this slightly - the D-Pad now selects which grenade to throw, as food items were removed entirely and grenades do not need to be equipped like other weapons to be used.
- The player select screen in Matrimelee is this.
- The Wii versions of Trauma Center use the second type. The hand and bandage tools are removed (the Bandages are only used at the end of an operation, anyways) so that there are an even 8-points for directional tool switching. It takes a bit of getting used to, but it's probably easier to play the game this way than on the DS.
- Perfect Dark displayed your weapons and gadgets like this - optional for weapons, which you could just scroll through like most FPSes, but the only way to access things like night-vision.
- Sonny uses this in combat. You click on the target, at which point any useable options are highlighted (healing/buffs on Sonny or allies, attacks on enemies).
- Second Life used to have a few of those, but they are cranky. Now replaced with drop-down menus, that are crankier.
- Weapons and spells in Clive Barker's Undying.
- While the default interface in World of Warcraft doesn't have this feature, a popular add-on, OPie allows it to be applied in-game. It is a great tool to utilize sparsely used skills, items, macros, abilities, and other things while minimizing interface clutter.
- Rainbow Six Vegas and Vegas 2 have two such menus of this type. The first brings up the inventory menu for switching weapons and grenades/equipment. The second brings up options for your current gun, such as changing the rate of fire and attaching a suppressor.
- Psychic powers and items in Psychonauts.
- Betablocker (also related projects) uses this for programming: the ring menu selects instructions to place on the grid representing the program's memory.
- The level-up screen in The Matrix: Path of Neo has multiple rings made of green code, while Neo floats in the middle in golden code. When you finish leveling up one thing, either yourself or the computer, if you've finished that ring, it moves to the next ring with more powerful abilities.
- League of Legends uses this to choose four out of eight types of map ping — missing enemy, incoming danger, help needed or going somewhere. (Generic ping and retreat warning are directly available from the game UI; focusing an enemy and defending a building are contextual).
- In Assassin's Creed, every game from I to III has this kind of menu when selecting weapons.
- The powers/weapons menu of Dishonored works like this, with time being slowed down while it's activated.
- Batman: Arkham Knight does this in a way not unlike the Zelda example above, pressing down to bring down a ring menu of your gadgets. You can also bring up ring menus to select the current mission or AR challenge you plan on doing.
Mixed or unsorted variations
- The three levels of magic in Bullet Witch are displayed in a ring setup. The size of the ring is inversely proportionate to the power of the magic you select.
- Common in later LucasArts Adventure Games.
- Isometric Game Boy Advance action game Scurge: Hive has one of these for weapon type selection, though it's basically just a circular version of a traditional menu since you can see the empty slots before they're filled.
- The Sims
- Turok 2 has two separate versions. One that consists of two rings, one for each activation button, and a massive ring that spins on one side of the screen, like the first game.
- the iPod game Song Summoner had this to match the clickwheel interface of the platform.
- Temple of Elemental Evil uses a radial menu that was basically a multi-tiered ring menu for each category, so "attack" has sub sections for attack modes (such as the option to deal non lethal damage) and attack types (such as trip and full attack) under it.
- Phantom Brave uses a ring menu for character creation. This gets a little annoying as you always start at the same spot in the ring each time and you eventually get enough generic character classes for two rings.
- Planescape: Torment replaced the standard Infinity Engine UI with one of these. It left something to be desired.
- [PROTOTYPE] features this as the primary way to switch abilities, though there is also a quick select feature for when you're in a hurry.
- Dungeons And Dragons: Tower of Doom as well as its sequel Shadow Over Mystara had this. Spellcasters got more rings for spells.
- The FoxTab add-on for Firefox has an option for this.
- Rune Factory Frontier uses separate ring menus for tools, seeds, and weaponry. You can even customize a ring menu to store the tools you use most frequently.
- The A-Trans menu in Mega Man ZX Advent is Type 2 in the Pause screen, and Type 1 when you access it via a preset button.
- In Drakengard, you choose your weapon from a ring of sharp objects.
- Hitman: Blood Money does this.
- Bally/Midway's TRON arcade game has a ring menu for a game select screen where you move Tron's disc into the pie section of the game you want to play. When the game is completed, the pie section is blacked out and the game cannot be replayed until all the games are completed. It should be noted that the games switch places on the ring menu with each new level you start, neither is it consistent from game to game.