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"IF YOU WANT TO SAVE YOUR FRIENDS, SOLVE MY MAZE!"

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.

The reasons why Pass Through the Rings missions are generally despised are varied. They're often huge departures from the rest of the game, making them Unexpected Gameplay Changes. Secondly, the rings are not always in the same position during every attempt, which adds an element of luck. Thirdly, it is often the case in which missing just one ring results in failure, meaning there's no room for error. The Scrappy Level indeed.

And finally, they're just so damn arbitrary, nonsensical, and, well, boring. Honestly, this is the best challenge they could think of? Fly through the rings? Moreover, occasionally there is no explanation for why the rings are there and why you must pass through them, making it a mere Solve the Soup Cans puzzle.

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 or health-ups in a lava level.

Rings are also not unheard of in racing segments.

Examples of Pass Through the Rings include:


  • Superman 64 is universally considered one of the worst licensed games ever made, thanks in part to its overabundance of Pass Through The Rings missions. The bad controls do not help at all. And this is the bearable part.
  • The recent Grand Theft Auto games are huge users of this one. San Andreas, however, took the cake.
  • The Jak and Daxter series.
    • Jak II's difficulty ranks at or just below Nintendo Hard. 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 incredibly manage to be considerably harder than the rest of the game. Jak 3 repeats this.
  • The Sly Cooper series. Even the final Boss Battle in the first game featured this, though it had a reason (it was one of the boss's attacks, with the only safe spot being the dead center).
  • Super Mario 64 has a fair number of these. It makes a little more sense than usual, because it's just one of the ridiculous tasks you have to perform to collect the Plot Coupons, plus Nintendo was basically showing off its new 64-bit tech.
    • Super Mario Galaxy also had a couple of these missions for the underwater levels, made a bit easier with motor-powered Koopa shells.
    • 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.
    • Super Mario 3D Land has two types of these - yellow ones that give you bonus coins, and red ones that trigger red coins to appear, collecting all of which awards you a tanuki leaf or fire flower, or if you already have such an item, an extra life.
  • Banjo-Kazooie had at least five arbitrary ring-passing missions - the Clanker's Cavern level had two.
    • Banjo-Tooie had only one Pass Through the Rings mission: the Hoop Hurry minigame in Witchyworld.
    • And then there's Banjo-Kazooie: Nuts & Bolts, where you have to pass through rings nearly every other Jiggy Game it seems like.
  • A few hidden exits in Star Fox 64 are unlocked by doing this.
    • Let's be fair, from the very first game onwards, you've been forced into piloting your Arwing through various rings for various reasons. In addition, every game that has a training mode uses rings for it.
    • Command is especially guilty of this, even though the game uses squares for it. Chasing down a missile? Pass through the squares. Barrel Roll into the enemy mothership? Pass through the squares.
    • 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, but whenever you do, you gain bonus points for that flight.
      • In addition, there are two cases where Fox must pass through rings of sparkles. At Cloud Runner Fortress, Fox must use pillars, other structures, and floating crates to jump through a series of rings along a path over water. 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.
  • Some space sims from the early 1990s, particularly X Wing and derivatives, used this trope for their training levels, which were usually not required to play, though you could get a Bragging Rights Reward for completing them. X Wing Alliance even put 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.
  • The Harry Potter video games seem to like this one. The broomstick and Hippogriff flying lessons in their versions of Philosopher's Stone and Chamber of Secrets 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: Majoras Mask had this as a swimming minigame. Made even more annoying by the fact that after you succeed, you're then told you have to do it AGAIN to get your prize. Bait and Switch!
    • And twice more if you want the piece of heart.
  • Crash Bandicoot 3 Warped has a level like this dubbed "Rings of Power". This is a Shout-Out to the game developer Naughty Dog's first game.
  • Pilotwings at least has the justification of being about aerial acrobatics. It's also one of the oldest examples of this trope.
  • Ecco the Dolphin: The Tides Of Time had the main character swim through rings to progress between certain levels. It didn't seem to matter that the levels themselves were frustratingly difficult, to really finish the level you had to swim through the rings!
  • One of the minigames in the MMORPG Toontown.
  • Spyro: Enter The Dragonfly has a mini-game involving flying through hoops.
  • The Spyro games had this as a minigame, too.
    • Except they're less "fly through the rings" and more "fly through the rings, take down all the planes, break open all the treasure chests, and sink all the boats. In one go. And within the time limit." They were usually called "Speedways" or "Flights"
    • And also as a loading screen in Enter The Dragonfly. A really long loading screen.....
  • Spyro 2 Riptos Rage had two missions in the world "Aquaria Towers", involving riding on a Manta Ray through rings made of bubbles.
  • In a rare case when Passing Through The Rings is an useful and welcome feature, 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. Likewise, 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.
  • Pretty much the entire point of NiGHTS Into Dreams and its sequel. Believe it or not, this is actually fun.
  • 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.
  • In Halo 3, the player must jump through a series of rings in the correct order to obtain an Easter Egg skull.
  • 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 hard as hell on some occasions, it's impossible to fail, which may render this a subversion.
    • Perhaps it was a minigame the helmsman (you, in this case) was playing to pass time while at warp? ...And besides, I thought the rings were for establishing orbit around a planet, not for warp speed. Although that makes even less sense.
      • Maybe they're to mark the course to take as part of orbital insertion?
  • 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.
  • In Freelancer, there's a mission that you need to race against a pilot, with rings as race track.
  • Used infuriatingly in the Ultimate Spider-Man 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.
  • Slightly obscure Platform Game Rocket Robot On Wheels had several ring missions, usually involving each level's specific vehicle.
    • It got really annoying trying to do the Food Fright rings on foot.. err.. wheel.
  • 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.
    • Probably one of the better cases, both in that you can't die or be forcibly reset upon a slip and because you'll be glad of having that control over levitation later (you also don't always need to levitate through them). The beauty of the surroundings also averts the historical reasoning behind this trope (a static backdrop with three or four optionally scaled sprites and no collision detection needed is about the cheapest way to get a playable "3D" game, thus why these segments kept showing up).
  • Ratchet: Deadlocked had several missions wherein you had to steer a vehicle (either a hoverbike or a spaceship) through rings in a certain time limit.
  • Excite Truck had challenge modes which involved either ramp jumps through rings, or navigating through ever-shrinking gates. Neither of which was nearly as fun as the truck smashing challenge.
    • This is actually a major part of gameplay. 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.
  • 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 could always use hover). The other one is a boss fight where you have to use a boat that you only use in that one stage while avoiding shockwaves and fireballs.
  • Jetpack Brontosaurus. (Yes, it's a real game.)
  • Mario Kart had these on the DS in the mission mode.
  • Diddy Kong Racing used rings as booster pads for planes. Also, you had 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 could get them in any order and you had all three laps to get them.
  • 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.
    • Likewise, the Gummi Missions in the first game.
    • In Kingdom Hearts 358 Days Over 2, 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 race challenges in Spider-Man 2: The Movie (among the best licensed games out there) are like this, only the rings are 10 to 15 stories high - given the game's excellent swinging physics, this is somewhat understandable - the ones attached to walls and obstacles are somewhat smaller and more frustrating to hit.
  • Sonic the Hedgehog 2006 suffered from it where you had to pass through rings too.
  • Legend of Kay has it for the riding minigames. While it makes some sort of sense for the races (you have to stay on the track, right?) it makes absolutely no sense whatsoever for the dragon ride, where Kay just wants to get from A to B.
  • One of Drakengard 2's boss fights is one of these. The boss would create rings of fireballs that you had to fly through or else they inexplicably home in on you.
  • 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.
  • The optional Ba'ul races in Tales of Vesperia, only needed for One Hundred Percent Completion.
  • In the bad sequel 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.
  • The Simpsons Game has this in the final level.
  • The "Power Cruising" event in Wii Sports Resort.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Tom Clancy's H.A.W.X. has possibly the only implementation of this that makes sense: 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.
  • Actually done for a reason and in purposefully over-simplistic style in Atari's mid-90s 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... (How simplistic? 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. However, given the early appearance of the game (Star Fox on the SNES would still have been sort-of current), the general surreality of all the rest of it, and Jeff Minters rather random humour, it's probably allowable...)
  • 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.
  • 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. 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 SpongeBob SquarePants Movie Game had certain 'Patty Wagon' ring challenges where you would have to steer the patty wagon through the- yeh, OK you get it...
  • The flight training levels from Tonic Trouble, but thankfully not the main levels.
  • Dragonball Z: Infinite World on the Play Station 2 had several of these levels, often for no discernible reason. Why do we have to go through a bunch of rings to save Gohan when you can easily go straight to Raditz's spaceship?
  • Bug! had this, where the titular character had to ride a dragonfly through flaming rings (missing one ended the level). Thankfully, it was only an optional Bonus Level, and not very difficult as compared to some other examples on this list.
  • The Gundam vs. Series has this in the mission modes for Alliance vs ZAFT II Plus and Gundam vs Gundam. Then there are levels where the actual objective is "Pass through these three rings", but an infinite number of enemies constantly spawn, letting the player grind at will. In this case, the rings are simply the "off" switch, allowing the player to duck out before he gets killed.
  • The Hoop Run in NBC's Wipeout game show.
  • The game for the first Iron Man movie uses a ring sequence as flight training.
  • 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.
  • Batman: Arkham City features 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.
  • In Conkers 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.
  • 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. Thankfully, the Autocross events are all fairly easy in the singleplayer - unless you only own muscle cars or trucks.
  • Whereas the series's previous entries had it as a slot machine, Escape Velocity Nova's gambling minigame had the player betting on the outcome of a space race involving this. A rare example where it's not the player doing it.
  • 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.
  • The Rogue Squadron tutorial levels had you fly through a series of Rebel insignias.
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