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Pass Through the Rings

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An extremely common type of mission that tasks the player with flying, running, or driving through a series of large, illuminated rings, usually within a limited amount of time.

One common variation sees you following behind something collecting something it drops in order for you to continue, like air bubbles in an underwater level, health-ups in a lava level, or the rings themselves.

These kinds of missions are common for two reasons: first, it sets a clear, specific objective that can be a challenging and fun way to master the controls across a number of popular game genres. Second, it's generally very easy to make them; place a bunch of ordered rings, and add a time limit and/or swarm of enemies.

Rings are also not unheard of in racing segments, with the progression of the rival serving as the time limit.


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    Action Adventure 
  • Batman: Arkham City has augmented reality missions where Batman strives to use his cape gliding skills to pass through rings, apparently as a Self-Imposed Challenge. The basic ones are fairly simple, and unlock both the Grapnel Boost upgrade and the Advanced missions, which are... harder.
  • One of Drakengard 2's boss fights is one of these. The boss would create rings of fireballs that you have to fly through or else they inexplicably home in on you.
  • Ecco the Dolphin:
    • The Tides Of Time has the main character swim through rings to progress between certain levels.
    • Some of these levels also show up in Defender of the Future, the only 3D game of the series.
    • The kid-friendly spin-off, Ecco Jr. has this as an optional feature; after collecting musical rings, you can swim through them to hear simple melodies.
  • The Finding Nemo Licensed Game was largely based around swimming through bubble rings.
  • The Harry Potter video games seem to like this one. The broomstick and Hippogriff flying lessons in their versions of Philosopher's Stone and Prisoner of Azkaban use this mechanic, and the Quidditch adaptations in each game also use the mechanic as an assist for chasing the golden snitch. Despite this, the rings only show up in Quidditch World Cup as an aid in the passing tutorials.
  • The Legend of Zelda:
    • The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask has this as a swimming minigame in the Waterfall Rapids, located in Great Bay. You're then told you have to do it again to get your prize (a bottle). And twice more if you want a Piece of Heart. The dificulty gradually increases every time: You have to pass through 20 rings in 2 minutes in the first race, then 25 in the same time limit in the second, then 20 in only 1 minute and 50 seconds in the third, and finally 25 in that reduced time limit in the fourth.
    • The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild:
      • Some of the Koroks hidden across Hyrule require you to pass through a series of green rings quickly enough, activated when you stand on a wooden pad marked with the drawing of a leaf, to find them so they give you their Seeds.
      • Four of the Sheikah Shrines in the Champions' Ballad DLC require Link to pass through a series of hologram-made rings (drawn with Sheikan-based inscriptions), each time under a brief time limit so they don't disappear. The way you go through the rings varies depending on the case: For the ones in Gerudo Desert, you have to ride a Sand Seal; for the ones in Hebra Mountains, you have to surf with a shield (one which is durable enough so it doesn't shatter before the task is complete); for the ones in Zora's River, you have to swim fast with an armor suited for this purpose; and for the ones in Death Mountain, you have to fly with the Paraglider from a high spot.
    • The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom has three Sky Island clusters where Link is tasked by Steward Constructs to skydive through glowing rings before falling into a pool of water. Doing so gives you the three parts of the Glide Outfit, which gives you greater control of your position as you skydive.
  • In Mercenaries 2: World in Flames there are several ring/gate/checkpoint races. Most of them have no logical reason for existing. In one you are in a helicopter and told the rings will show you the quickest way to your destination; except, the rings take you on a very long and winding course when you could simply fly in a straight line and get there much faster. And you are timed of course.
  • Spider-Man games:
    • Spider-Man 2: The Movie: The race challenges have this type of challenge, only the rings are 10 to 15 stories high - given the game's swinging physics, this is somewhat understandable - the ones attached to walls and obstacles are somewhat smaller and more frustrating to hit.
    • Ultimate Spider-Man: Used with difficulty in the game, as Spidey's (or Venom's, for that matter) movements are rarely in a straight line and missing once can lead to having to start all over again.
  • A Game Boy Star Trek: The Next Generation game used this when you went to warp speed, in order to put you in another system. Despite this being very difficult on some occasions, it's impossible to fail.
  • Superman 64 has a lot of these. Bizarrely, Lex Luthor introduces these linear ring racing segments by challenging Superman to "SOLVE MY MAZE". This went all Memetic Mutation for N64 magazine (later NGamer), to the point that Lex Luthor's Solve My Maze became a regular feature when the title changed focus to the Nintendo GameCube and became NGC.

    Action Game 
  • Each world in Toy Commander, with the exception of the Cellar, has one race consisting of this. The unlockable garden level has a race like this where you play as a snail and race other snails. Unlike the other levels in the game, getting hit doesn't damage you, it just stuns you for a few seconds.
  • A bunch of LEGO Adaptation Games have timed racing minigames where you have to run, drive or fly through rings.

    Eastern RPG 
  • Kingdom Hearts:
    • Several of the mini-games in Kingdom Hearts II, although passing through the rings would just increase your score; it's not really required to hit all of them.
    • The Gummi Missions in the first game.
    • In Kingdom Hearts: 358/2 Days, some of the missions where you need to pick up emblems can devolve into this, as you need to rush from one to the next in order to get full points. On the other hand, you can beat up nearby enemies to refresh the "ring", so it's a bit more involved (and easier) than most examples here.
  • The optional Ba'ul races in Tales of Vesperia, only needed for 100% Completion.

    Fighting Game 

    First Person Shooter 
  • In Halo 3, the player must jump through a series of rings in the correct order to obtain an Easter Egg skull.
  • Far Cry 3 and Far Cry 4 both have racing missions in which the player has to pass through rings within a time limit, either on a land-based vehicle or a boat.
  • Turbo Overkill features a secret level where you have to drive a flying car through the rings.

  • The DC Universe Online MMO has racing challenges a player can choose to take, consisting of timed ring obstacle courses throughout the cities.
  • One of the Trolley minigames in the MMORPG Toontown Online.
  • The adventure (i.e. minigame) "Flying Circus" in Guild Wars 2 follows this pattern. It's a time trial where the objective is to glide through a series of rings as quickly as possible. Unlike the classic Superman 64 example though, the path actually branches.
  • A mission in Star Trek Online has you fly your ship through a set of targets in order to travel back in time. If you fail three times, the ship's computer will have learned enough to do it for you.
  • World of Warcraft:
    • In the Expansion Pack Mists of Pandaria, one of the quests to get East Asian dragon-like flying mounts involves riding one through rings above the Jade Forest.
    • In Dragonflight, some quests for the dragon riding skills (takeoff, high speed flight, gliding, acceleration etc) are this, with the Dragon Isles being specifically designed for said skills. Also applies to the early quests for the Dracthyr/Evoker race/class itself, which has similar (if less developed, but usable outside the Dragon Isles) abilities.

    Platform Game 
  • Banjo-Kazooie:
  • Bug! has this, where the titular character has to ride a dragonfly through flaming rings (missing one ended the level).
  • In Conker's Bad Fur Day, the titular character has to lure an eel into three rings of circuitry so it can empower a generator and use a Context-Sensitive Button panel.
  • Crash Bandicoot:
  • Donkey Kong 64 contains three such challenges. Two of them can be a slight hassle as you have to do so with Diddy's jetpack which can be slightly difficult to use (but you can always use hover). The other one is a boss fight in Gloomy Galleon where you have to use a boat (like the one in that same level's Racing Minigame) while avoiding shockwaves and fireballs.
  • The Jak and Daxter series frequently features this trope.
    • Jak and Daxter: The Precursor Legacy: The level Precursor Basin features two Power Cell challenges that have you following the rings on a Zoomer, with the second one featuring rings requiring to hit a rock to be launched in the air or rapidly navigating narrow walkway.
    • Jak II: Renegade: The difficulty ranks at or just below Nintendo Hard due to these. In addition to having an "accelerator ring" race that ranks in the top 3 hardest missions of the game, there are numerous optional ring races that are much harder than the rest of the game. Jak 3: Wastelander repeats this.
  • JumpJet Rex has this. In all normal levels, there is a number of golden rings and the main objective is to pass through all of them to open the gate to the goal. Rings will usually disappear when Rex touches them, but sometimes they will turn transparent instead, meaning that Rex has to pass through them again. When this happens, passing through the same ring twice in a row will not count; Rex needs to cross another one for the previous ring to return to its normal state so it will count (if the ring in question is the only one left, the player has to wait a few seconds for it to return to normal instead). Rex can also activate rings by hitting them with the projectiles from his rocket boots.
  • Legend of Kay has it for the riding minigames. While it makes some sort of sense for the races it makes absolutely no sense whatsoever for the dragon ride, where Kay just wants to get from A to B.
  • Psychonauts uses rings in the level designed to teach the player how to use their levitation powers. The level is a dance party in the mind of a high-ranking Psychonaut, who asks you to levitate through the rings to get them spinning so her party can kick off.
  • Rocket: Robot on Wheels has several ring missions, usually involving each level's specific vehicle.
  • In Scaler, the races against dragons at Desollem have rings scattered along the track. Bizarrely though, there's no bonus or penalty for respectivly going through or missing them, and it appears that their purpose is just to show the reccomended path around the track.
  • The Simpsons Game has this in the final level.
  • The final Boss Battle in Sly Cooper and the Thievius Raccoonus featured this, as one of the boss's attacks is shooting rings with the only safe spot being the dead center.
  • The Spongebob Squarepants Movie Game has ring challenges where the player would have to pass through rings, which turn red and disappear if they're not passed through soon enough. These challenges are present in the Patty Wagon stages and the sliding stages, as well as being the basis of the Sonic Wave Guitar challenges (in which a wave from the titular guitar has to be guided through rings around the entire level).
  • Spyro the Dragon: The games have this as a minigame, too.
  • Super Kiwi 64: All levels except the fifth feature gold rings the kiwi pass through in order to earn a gem. They are scattered through the levels, and can be passed through in any order. In the case of the levels from the Doomsday campaign, the rings are colored silver, but serve the same purpose.
  • Super Mario Bros.:
    • Super Mario 64 has a fair number of these. It makes a little more sense than usual, because it's just one of the tasks you have to perform to collect the Plot Coupons.
    • New Super Mario Bros.: The series has red and green rings that trigger like-colored coins to appear, collecting all of which awards you a power-up (or, if you already have such an item, an extra life). This carried to Super Mario 3D Land, which also has yellow rings that simply award bonus coins.
    • Super Mario Galaxy has a couple of these missions for the underwater levels, where the rings are marked by a shark character, made a bit easier with motor-powered Koopa shells.
    • Super Mario Galaxy 2: The rings found in the Fluzzard races are optional for the Power Stars, but required to get the Comet Medals.
    • Super Mario 3D World: Touching a star-shaped ring will make eight green coins appear, arranging a specific pattern. Getting them all before time runs out will net you a Green Star. There are exactly 21 such rings in the game, leading to a total of 168 green coins for 21 Green Stars.
    • Mario Party 4: The aptly-named minigame Manta Rays has all players swim through a sea and pass through as many rings as possible, each of which is worth one point by default. If a manta ray passes through a ring first, it will change its color to gold, making it worth three points. The character also have to avoid being hit by Bloopers (which deduct one point upon contact), Sushi/sharks (two points) and large orange eels (three points). Whoever scores the most points by the time they reach the goal wins.
    • Mario Party 5: The minigame Hydrostars has all the characters drive motorboats across an enclosed area of the sea. The objective is to pass through five star-shaped rings, each identified with a number from 1 to 5 and following the intended order, and then dash to the goal. Whoever does so first wins.
    • Mario Party Advance: The minigame Broom Zoom has a solo player flying through rings on a Flying Broomstick until reaching the goal line. Passing through many of them in a row provides a combo that boosts the score. There are obstacles like blocks and Amps that must be avoided, as they stun the player and make them waste time. In Shroom City mode, at least 5000 points must be scored to win.
    • Mario Golf has challenges where the player has to shoot the ball through rings.
    • Mario Golf 2 has co-op ring shot, with different sets of holes for 1, 2, 3, or 4 players. Only one ball needs to go through each ring (with more rings across more paths to compensate), but everyone needs to make par to win.
  • The flight training levels from Tonic Trouble.

    Racing Game 
  • Diddy Kong Racing uses rings as booster pads for planes. Also, you have to beat every track two times, the second time with the added challenge to collect eight silver coins, which is quite similar in how it restricts your movement options, but you can get them in any order and you have all three laps to get them.
  • Excite Truck has challenge modes which involved either ramp jumps through rings, or navigating through ever-shrinking gates. This is because, unlike most racers, the goal is not to come in first, but score the most points. Every course has a jump where you can attempt to fly through rings for points, although you can score roughly the same amount of points by getting air-time or successful mid-air spins. This returns in the sequel, Excitebots.
  • Forza Motorsport 4 has Autocross events, where you need to pass through series of cone gates within a set amount of time (taking longer will result in less payout). The cones are arranged in hellish configurations to truly test how responsive your car is - slaloms, sudden braking, and oddly placed gates in turns. Every time you hit a cone or miss the gate, 5 seconds is added onto your lap time.
  • Mario Kart DS requires the player to pass through rings in some stages of Mission Mode. And to earn the three-star rank, it's necessary to do this fast.
  • Crash Team Racing Nitro-Fueled gives us Ring Rally (Introduced during the Neon Circus Grand Prix), in which the player passes through rings, which become smaller with each consecutive lap and provide a speed boost when being passed through.

    Shoot Em Up 
  • Whereas the series's previous entries has it as a slot machine, Escape Velocity Nova's gambling minigame has the player betting on the outcome of a space race involving this. A rare example where it's not the player doing it.
  • Some of the bonus challenge levels in Jamestown: Legend of the Lost Colony.
  • Star Fox:
    • From the Star Fox onwards, it's common in the series to pilot your Arwing through various rings for different reasons. Training modes always make you fly through rings, with some of them having a special placement that requires special maneuvers.
    • Star Fox 64 has ring-shaped health items: the silver ring gives you a little bit of health, the star-shaped silver ring and the checkpoint ring give you a lot of health, the golden ring gives you a fair amount of health and collecting three will double the length of your health bar. A few hidden exits in Star Fox 64 are unlocked by doing this.
    • Star Fox Command uses squared rings instead of circular ones, be it to chase down a missile, Barrel Roll into the enemy mothership, and so on.
    • In Star Fox Adventures:
      • Every time you go from the planet to a chunk, the flight corridor has ten Gold Rings to fly through. Only one chunk requires you to pass through all of them to get there (namely to access Dragon Rock), but whenever you do, you gain bonus points for that flight.
      • Regarding on-foot areas, there are two cases where Fox must pass through rings of sparkles. At CloudRunner Fortress, Fox must use pillars, other structures, and floating crates to jump through a series of rings along a path over water. And at the Walled City, rings appear in the stream around the central land mass, the object being to swim or otherwise pass through them. Both instances are a race against time, but in the second case, passing through a ring gives you a few more seconds.
  • An early level in Star Trek Encounters has this, with especially frustrating Fake Difficulty added by the fact that, given the angle of the "camera" to the course, you can hardly tell whether you're supposed to "ascend" or "descend" a problem that an actual helm officer on your ship would not have.
  • Done Tempest 2000 title reboot. Fly-though-rings levels appeared every now and then amongst the notably manic main levels, ostensibly to give you a quiet breather in which to dry your hands and catch your breath, as well as score some bonus points or extra lives if you did well. However, though they started slowly, the action was almost as mad as the main game once you neared the end of the course. It was noted in one review as officially being called "flying the bacon" due to the flat-plane texture of Jupiter's streaky clouds you flew over, and sometimes below after passing through the "rasher"... with space appearing UNDER you. The bacon was a single polygon, and so were the hoops which never appeared more than about three at a time to make it harder to plan which way to go.

    Simulation Game 
  • Descent 3 requires the player to fly through a series of rings to acquire the builder's icon in the Martian Nomad Caverns. Yes, a bunch of groundbound nomads locked up the key to their inner sanctum with a lock that requires an agrav ship to unlock.
  • In Freelancer, there's a mission that you need to race against a pilot, with rings as race track.
  • Tom Clancy's H.A.W.X.: The rings are created by your aircraft's computer system to assist in complicated maneuvers (such as intercepting enemy aircraft, dodging missiles or dive bombing a target). Not only is this sort of thing actually in development today, but the player can turn it off at any time to increase the plane's maneuverability at the expense of greater stall risk and difficulty of control.
  • In Independence War, there are a couple missions that require you to fly through rings as a training course of sorts. Hitting the side of one, however, is nearly fatal. The one ring mission in the sequel, Edge of Chaos, is harder. You still have to fly through large metal rings without smacking into them, but you also have to shoot moving targets along the way.
  • There's an option in some entries in the Microsoft Flight Simulator series that allows you to see a flight path as a series of rings. Follow them, and you'll have a nice, smooth flight. If you want an easy, smooth landing, just turn on an option that renders a landing path as a series of rings. Sega Airline Pilots, an arcade flight sim, has a similar feature, except that the rings are mandatory, as they make up your flight route.
  • Pilotwings has the justification of being about aerial acrobatics. It's also one of the oldest examples of this trope.
  • The Rogue Squadron tutorial levels have you fly through a series of Rebel insignias.
  • In Sky Odyssey, transparent rings are in each level and are colored white and yellow. White rings help guide the player on the correct path through the area. Yellow rings are harder to safely pass through without crashing your aircraft, but worth more points. All of these rings are optional to pass through but give players a better store, allowing them to buy more parts to customize their aircraft.
  • The PC game Tachyon: The Fringe also has this type of mission. However, at least they are completely optional, really only important for earning a little extra money.
  • Wing Commander Arena has a game based on this, activated by a Power-Up in the "Bearpit" arena. Completing all three levels is worth an Xbox Live achievement.
  • X: Beyond the Frontier has this as part of the Justified Tutorial, the justification being testing the systems on the Xperimental Shuttle. Also, several missions in X3: Reunion and Terran Conflict have you racing against other ships; you do not technically fly through rings, but you do have to pass through arbitrarily placed checkpoints.
  • Some space sims from the early 1990s, particularly X-Wing and derivatives, use this trope for their training levels, which are usually not required to play, though you can get a Bragging Rights Reward for completing them. X-Wing Alliance even puts in a lot of thought into coming up with an in-game reason for its Pass Through the Rings "pilot proving ground" to be a real place and not a holographic simulator.

    Sports Game 
  • SSX 3 involves Big Challenges, which are like little mini-missions you do for money and completion. Naturally, a number of said challenges involve, you guessed it, jumping through hoops. Given the nature of the game however, this ends up being a lot more fun than one would expect.
  • The flying and skydiving parts of Wii Sports Resort have these, as does the "Power Cruising" event.

    Third Person Shooter 
  • Ratchet & Clank
  • Warframe
    • Mastery rank 20 test requires the player to get from platform A to platform B using their archwing within a time limit that can be extended by flying through rings.
    • Around Orb Vallis you can find Boon, who can challenge you to drive your K-drive Hover Board through gates to earn standing with Vent Kids.

    Wide Open Sandbox 
  • Among the side missions in Just Cause 2 are plenty of racing ones. There's four kinds, too; road courses where you use a car or motorcycle, flying courses where you pilot some type of aircraft, boat courses, and obstacle courses where you don't use a vehicle at all. You need to go through all the rings in order within the time limit, and passing through each ring makes it explode dramatically while adding seconds to the timer. There are also bonus rings in some races that, while optional, will give you more time than a regular ring. Time doesn't start ticking until you hit the first ring, so you can take all the time you need to get ready, or even go hijack another vehicle to use for the race.
  • The Grand Theft Auto games occasionally make use of this in missions. San Andreas and Grand Theft Auto V take it further with their flight school activities, which are entire mission chains involving ring checkpoints that are instrumental in leveling up your flying skill.
  • The completely optional "races" in Saints Row 2 follow this general theme. Some races are timed, while others feature rival drivers. Every one of the barnstorming challenges required passing through rings, too.
  • The Gauntlet and campaign racing missions in TerraTech take this form, both land-bound and airborne.

    Non-Video Game Examples 
  • The Hoop Run in NBC's Wipeout game show.
  • The "shuttle simulation" Video Mode from the Star Trek: The Next Generation Pinball requires the player to fly through a series of caverns without colliding. Each segment ends with a pair of circular openings, invoking this trope.
  • ''Droners: Every race includes unmoveable rings through which drones must pass. Apparently, they are worth points, which means that some rings may be skipped at the cost of a penalty.


Video Example(s):


Hogwarts Legacy: Flying Lesson

Like Harry in the old games, the player character has to fly a broom through a series of hoops in order to pass the flying class.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (3 votes)

Example of:

Main / PassThroughTheRings

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