The Power Rings were originally a component of the ROCC, orbiting around the system and so preserving a harmonious, tranquil, flowing course and circuit which neutralised the radiation of the Chaos Emeralds. The warping effects of the ROCC's destruction also scattered the Power Rings across Mobius, as well as translating the Chaos Emeralds to the Special Zone and, of course, creating Doctor Robotnik.Over the course of his adventures, Sonic collected nearly all of the Power Rings, physically absorbing them into himself as each one dematerialised on contact. Each ring was imprinted with a minute fragment of the power that they had channeled and drained in the ROCC. These infusions augmented and enhanced Sonic's abilities, useful when fighting Robotnik, but an excess of "ring energy" also contaminated Sonic with the lifelong curse of Super Sonic - his early transformations were fuelled by the stockpiles of energy accumulated while collecting the Power Rings.
The Power Rings today are thought to have been mostly accounted for, either absorbed or destroyed. Only one is known to exist - Doctor Kintobor's mind and personality was psychically imprinted on a ring during the ROCC's destruction, and the ring was preserved as the master copy of the Kintobor Computer's core program.
Removal of the Power RingsThe need to incorporate the collection of Power Rings into Sonic's adventures and travels was seen as a narrative burden - an unnecessarily slavish aping of a videogame mechanic, circumlocution that was not suitable for a different story format anymore than having all the action take place on a flat plane and narrow platforms was. The Power Rings were consequently rapidly marginalised by the comic creators. There have only been two occasions where Power Rings have had a direct role in a story: Enter: Sonic, where Robotnik was attempting to collect "ring energy" for himself by means of a land-crawler which hoovered up any rings that it encountered; and The Sky's the Limit, where Tails arranged the delivery of several massive Rings from the Eldorado Zone to the Green Hill Zone in order to catch Sydney Bland.
Sonic the Comic
Rings made a surprise return in Issue 260's "Libra". Part of G.U.N.'s strategy against the New Robotnik Empire was to drop supply crates from their helicopters to assist citizens in their war effort. One such crate, inspected by Sonic, contained a number of Rings and a spring. Sonic grabbed a few Rings on his arm, although it wasn't clear what they did.
- Power Rings did appear in multiple stories printed in The Official Sonic the Hedgehog Yearbooks.
- Rings have been brought up again in Sonic the Comic Online. Apparently they are now a form of currency, although they are probably ordinary tokens just referred to as "Rings" - given that the Power Rings are finite the deflationary effects of using them as a currency base would wreck the Mobian economy...!