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Ring Menu

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A Ring Menu (also known as a radial menu, a pie menu, or a weapon wheel) is an interface element where a list of possible actions are displayed in a ring or circle, often centered around a character. That said, Ring Menus aren't exclusive to selecting stuff in the middle of gameplay; they can sometimes be found in pause menus as a way of organizing menu items.

This type of menu is navigated in two general methods:

  1. Using the directional pad or buttons (or driving wheel in an Arcade Game that uses one) to rotate the menu like a wheel, with the item in a specific, static section being the one highlighted for use. The player will be required to move through each item on the list on the way to the one they want, but the upshot is that all items on the wheel are visible at the same time.
  2. 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. Once the player memorizes the position of the items on the wheel, this can be one of the fastest methods of accessing them. This option only became prevalent once console controllers gained a second analog stick to support this function across a wider swath of games.

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, thus allowing the player to be more fluid in their item selection in involved gameplay sequences.

Compare Spinventory.


Spin the wheel

  • European and Australian PlayStation demo discs (the ones that were made by SCEE's "Special Projects" team, 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 from 1995 to 1999) and one facing downwards (later discs from 2000 to 2004). 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.
  • 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.
  • Alien Soldier, although it doesn't pause the action.
  • 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.
  • Donkey Kong 64 has this in its primary menu screen.
  • Drakengard: The only menu in the gameplay serves to select your weapon, making a scraping sound with every turn.
  • The inventory from Escape from Monkey Island, in a variation similar to the one from Metroid Prime 2: Echoes.
  • The Ghost Train has one that allows you to hold eight items.
  • Golden Axe used this to select your player character.
  • Grandia: Every game has one in battle menu.
  • Hanako: The inventory, when viewed from the inventory screen, shows the items you collected in a ring.
  • Jak and Daxter: Both II and 3 use this style to switch between sub menus (options, missions, secrets, etc.) in the pause menu.
  • Live A Live shows sprites of the seven protagonists in a ring for the "Select Scenario" screen (or "Select-A-Live" as the soundtrack calls it). An eighth scenario is added to the ring after the first seven are cleared.
  • The Mega Man ZX series uses this menu when selecting a form to change into, though Advent added a second quick select menu accessed via the DS' touch screen.
  • Metroid Prime 2: Echoes has a variation in which menu options are displayed emanating from a central node, and the user rotates the menu in three dimensions to bring one node to the front.
  • Night Delivery: The inventory is presented in this manner. It spins when you move to view other items.
  • The Night Way Home: The inventory is presented like this.
  • Odin Sphere uses separate rings for each inventory pouch in the player's possession.
  • Onryō (2020) has its inventory set up like this.
  • Persona 3's battle menu.
  • Secret of Evermore, which was built using an engine which mimicked the Mana game engine.
  • 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.
  • Tomb Raiders I, II, III, and Anniversary, for both its frontend and in-game menus.
  • 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.
  • WarioWare: Twisted!: In a variation, since the game cartridge features a tilt sensor, you have to tilt the Game Boy Advance itself to cycle through them.
  • 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. The first game with a radial menu was Secret of Mana (1993).

Point to select

  • Animal Crossing: New Horizons adds the Tool Wheel, allowing the player to access a ring of just their Tools instead of having to pick it from their inventory. Unfortunately it doesn't replace the inventory outright, as the Tools still need to be in your inventory so they can be put onto the Tool Wheel, taking up precious slots.
  • ANNO: Mutationem: When in battle, using the right stick with bring up a ring menu displaying each of Ann's weapons for quick selection.
  • Betablocker (also related projects) uses this for programming: the ring menu selects instructions to place on the grid representing the program's memory.
  • In Assassin's Creed, every game from I to III has this kind of menu when selecting weapons.
  • Astral Chain: The support items (power-ups, healers, etc.) are selected directly from an 8-slot ring. The player can pause the game to decide what items are given direct access for use whenever necessary.
  • 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.
  • The Battlefield series trademarked "Commo Rose" for voice communications, featured in Battlefield 2 Battlefield 2142.
  • Beyond Good & Evil: S.A.C, which combines Hyperspace Arsenal and the pause menu, arranges items in a circular pattern with the cursor rotating through them. The keypads for unlocking doors is also arranged in a spiral.
  • Weapons and spells in Clive Barker's Undying.
  • Dragon Age, mostly in the console versions much like Mass Effect
  • 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.
  • 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).
  • The Legend of Zelda:
    • The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess uses this for Link's inventory items specifically to avoid an Interface Spoiler — although it still provides a separate 'Quest Status' screen with a traditional layout.
    • The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword: The game has two rings, one for weaponry such as bombs and the bow, the other for miscellaneous equipment; however, the design in this case invokes an Interface Spoiler, as both rings have an identifiable number of slots, unlike in Twilight Princess. You have to physically point the Wii Remote at what you want 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 Wii Remote, 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.

  • This is how you change character in the majority of LEGO games.
  • 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 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.
  • The Metroid Prime Trilogy uses this to switch between Samus's visors and beam weapons. In the Nintendo GameCube originals, they correspond to the controller's directional pad and second analog stick respectively; Metroid Prime 3: Corruption (and the Trilogy edition) makes this explicit by overlaying the menu across the game screen for selection with the motion controls.
  • Monster Hunter: Rise lets the player customise numerous ring menus that can be saved and swapped about as desired. Quest ring menus and Village ring menus can be set up separately and up to four can be accessed at any one time so that the player can create dedicated ring menus for things like items, gestures, etc.
  • 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.
  • Persona 3 uses this as its battle UI. Persona 3 Portable takes this a step further by making it look like a revolver. This style of menu was unfortunately dropped in the remake.
  • 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.
  • The player select screen in Matrimelee is this.
  • Psychic powers and items in Psychonauts.
  • 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.
  • Ratchet & Clank: Every game features a Quick Select wheel accessed by holding Triangle to get fast access to your eight chosen weapons / gadgets (or Clank's various commands). The second game paused the gameplay while the wheel was up, and later games even expanded the menu to hold two or more 'pages' of items. While Ratchet & Clank wasn't the first video game to implement this mechanic, it did popularize it; there's a very good reason why almost every other "point to select" ring menu listed here is after the original Ratchet.
  • The Resistance series-except for the second game, which imposes a two-weapon limit on the player-uses this when selecting weapons.
  • Roots of Pacha arranges your tools and seeds this way, where you can either cycle through them one at a time or bring up the radial menu to select them instantly. You can also rearrange the order of your tools and seeds for your convenience.
  • 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.
  • Second Life used to have a few of those, but they are cranky. Now replaced with drop-down menus, that are crankier.
  • Perhaps the Ur-Example of a "weapon wheel" in a first-person shooter was the Sega Saturn title Congo The Movie: The Lost City of Zinj. Pressing the Y button would simply switch to the next gun in inventory but holding it would bring up an half-radial menu where the player could quick select a weapon by hitting the corresponding D-Pad directions.
  • Skinwalker Hunt: The inventory is presented as a circle, with each section being a space to select a certain item.
  • 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).
  • Super Smash Bros. Ultimate added the ability to select Shulk's Monado Arts through a ring menu by holding the special button, though the old method of repeatedly tapping the button to cycle through Arts is still available.
  • 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.
  • The powers/weapons menu of Dishonored works like this, with time being slowed down while it's activated.
  • 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.
  • Grand Theft Auto V has three wheels: The radio wheel, the character wheel, and the weapon wheel. On the radio wheel, you press a button to open the wheel and choose which radio station you want to listen to, depending on the area you're currently in. For the character wheel, it works the same as the radio wheel, except you determine which character you want to switch to. For the weapon wheel, it works the same as the previous two wheels, except you determine which weapon you can to use in combat (ranging from melee to ranged to thrown).

Mixed or unsorted variations

  • Common in later LucasArts Adventure Games.
  • The FoxTab add-on for Firefox has an option for this.
  • Oddly, while the rest of the menus are drop-down and drag-and-drop affairs, the dog interaction menu in theHunter: Call of the Wild is a ring menu.
  • 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.
  • In Drakengard, you choose your weapon from a ring of sharp objects.
  • Dungeons And Dragons: Tower of Doom as well as its sequel Shadow Over Mystara had this. Spellcasters got more rings for spells.
  • 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 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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 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.
  • 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.
  • Warframe’s item menu used to be the “point to select” variation, but it was updated to be a hybrid where your pointer moves around the inside of a spiral. To access more items, you rotate the pointer around and the menu spirals down to reveal them.
  • The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt has a radial menu for selecting your active Sign and secondary item. When you select certain items you can also use the directional keys for a sub-selection, like choosing different bolts for the crossbow.

Alternative Title(s): Pie Menu, Ring Inventory