Video Game: Crash Bandicoot 2: Cortex Strikes Back
One year after the original game, Dr. Neo Cortex, the Big Bad of the previous game, turns to Crash for help in an effort to prevent the planet Earth from facing certain doom. All the planets in the solar system will align soon, and, according to Cortex, create enough energy to tear the world apart. His solution to the crisis lies in crystals: In the aftermath of the original game, he discovered the Master Crystal, but that alone will not be enough. He needs Crash to collect 25 Slave Crystals so he can contain the energy of the planetary alignment and save Earth.This was where the Crash Bandicoot franchise grew its beard, with notable improvements on the first game in just about every area: Significantly better controls and level design, new moves and tricks to use, slightly more forgiving difficulty, and some of the most sublime non-prerendered graphics seen on the PlayStation at its time of release, not to mention a long time afterwards.
Tropes Used In This Game:
Absurdly Spacious Sewer: The Eel Deal, Sewer or Later and Hangin' Out levels are tunnels large enough to contain Crash, electric eels, robotic cleaners, mechanical mice, rolling barrels, tons and tons of TNT, Nitro crates, flamethrowing men hanging from the roof. It also has spiked camera patrols, boiling pipes and overhangs. Fortunately, they're still pretty fun.
Advancing Wall of Doom: The snow boulders in Crash Dash and Crash Crush, and the mad polar bears in Un-Bearable.
Blackout Basement: There are three levels which function as this, two of which are secret levels that can only be reached in the special warp room. Fortunately, the levels are a big improvement over the last game's Blackout Basement levels.
Batman Gambit: Cortex tricks Crash into believing that he's a good guy and that he was forced to assist Nitrus Brio in "his" plot for world domination. He tricks Crash into gathering the crystals, all needed to power a ray that will turn the Earth's populace into his slaves, by convincing him that the crystals will be used to contain the energy of an upcoming solar flux.
Bonus Dungeon: Totally Fly and Totally Bear are very tough secret levels.
Bonus Stage: On occasion, Crash can find "?" platforms which take him to bonus stages. These are quite forgiving; there are no enemies, no lives are taken if you die, and whether you fall or are blown up, the player is plonked right next to the platform to start again. A few "Skull Route" platforms exist, which are considerably harder; not only do you have to get past the level up to that point without dying, but the stages themselves are tougher, can feature enemies, and generally play out like the regular levels Up to Eleven. Hidden Gem stages also exist, which appear only when Crash has found the relevant colored gem. They vary in their difficulty, but otherwise are much like Skull Routes.
Book Ends: Every level (except the intro and the boss fights) begins and ends with the teleport room, themed accordingly to the warp room the level belongs to.
Boss Arena Idiocy: Tiny is invincible. The only way to harm him is to hop around on the platforms, avoiding him, until they blink red. Once they do, the player must hop Crash onto a non-blinking platform and hope that Tiny lands on a blinking platform and falls, hurting him.
Bottomless Pits: In all the levels, even the jetpack ones, there will be some pits down which Crash should not fall.
Brainwashed and Crazy: Cortex's true goal is to brainwash everyone on the planet in one shot, thus bringing them under his control.
Brilliant but Lazy: Crash is implied to be this at the beginning and the end of the game. He's capable of tremendous feats of acrobatics, has insane amounts of stamina, can beat an explosives-crazed kangaroo, a pair of samurai Komodo dragons, an insanely strong thylacine, a Humongous Mecha piloted by a cyborg genius, and pretty much anything the woods, rivers, glaciers, mountains, ruins and space station can throw at him, and yet he'd much rather lie down on the beach and take a kip.
Brutal Bonus Level: Everything after the purple gem in Bee-Having. It is the hardest area in the entire game, it gives you nothing, and the end platform, unlike Air Crash, Piston it Away and the like, takes you back to the last checkpoint rather than the warp room.
But Thou Must: Sort of an inversion: Cortex tells you to give the crystals you've gathered to N. Gin, but there is no option of actually doing so. N. Gin just demands you give him the crystals and then attacks you when you don't.
Another inversion: Considering N. Brio's Heel-Face Turn after two years have passed, he had some balls trying to tell Crash himself not to collect the crystals, when in reality it was pretty much impossible to beat the game and collect new gems without these.
Camera Screw: The camera remains behind Crash whenever he is progressing forwards. This is fine so long as you don't want to walk back, because the only concession the camera then makes is to back off a little bit. This makes most of the backtracking particularly frustrating.
In the chase levels, Crash is running towards the screen, which means you can't see more than a few feet in front of you.
Canon Discontinuity: This game ignored the 100% ending of the original game, namely in regards to Cortex's fate (where he's said to have never been heard from again after Crash foiled his plans). That said, the possibility of Cortex still being around was suggested.
Cat and Mouse Boss: Tiny Tiger begins the battle by chasing after Crash, trying to crush him with his leaping.
Check Point: If Crash opens a crate marked with a "C", it becomes the new checkpoint in case he dies. This system was an improvement over the original, since now it remembers all the crates opened before that point.
Chekhov's Gun: Those seemingly useless gems do have a purpose later in the game.
Child Prodigy / Teen Genius: Assuming she is either a child or a teenager at this point in the series, then Coco Bandicoot is an exemplary computer genius. She can hack into Cortex's secret computers, so either this says a lot about Coco's computing skills or Cortex has a really lousy system protection program.
Chuck Cunningham Syndrome: Tawna is absent in this game. Tawna's disappearance is a pretty big Plot Hole, since her fate was never mentioned in the epilogue of the last game. In reality, the designers lost interest in hernote Specifically, a marketing exec didn't like her design and forced them to change it. They hated the new design so much they just replaced Tawna outright. and came up with a flimsy excuse for her absence (she dumped Crash for Pinstripe Potoroo).
Civilian Villain: Cortex wants Crash to believe that he has seen the error of his ways.
Collection Sidequest: At first, the gems appear to be this, since you don't need them to reach the final boss, but to complete the game, and to complete the story, all 42 gems need to be collected.
Collision Damage: Walk into any enemies and Crash is heading up to that great Australian outback in the sky.
Covers Always Lie: Done intentionally and not quite noticeably at first. Noticed that Crash doesn't have gloves on the cover? Well, this is the way Naughty Dog wanted to show that the gloves are off with this game.
The rest (excluding Cortex), however, was done without any clear intention: not only there is no blue warp room with greek ornaments in the final version, but yet it also seems that it's actually mishmashed with the teleport rooms you always start and end the levels with. For example, the hologram heads never appear on the spot where you're supposed to teleport. Plus, while the ingame warps look no different to each other, having the same "twisty and twirly" look, one warp on the cover has the same door the teleport rooms usually have, along with the jetpack.
N. Gin is one of the minor examples, since his cyborg customizations are restricted to the right side of his face, courtesy of an industrial accident which is explained in the manual.
Most of the animal enemies are cyborgs, which is usually limited to a metal plate covering their red right eye.
Death Is a Slap on the Wrist: By the time you're midway through the game, it is easy to earn more lives than you lose, which is also a good example of Meaningless Lives. Even if Crash loses all his lives, the continue screen allows you to return to that level's Warp Room with new lives, ready for another attempt.
Defector from Decadence: Brio isn't all that heroic, but he hates Cortex and is willing to ally himself with Crash to take him down.
Degraded Boss: Ripper Roo goes from being the second boss (and a good candidate for That One Boss status) in the original game to being the first boss in this one. Now he can also be hurt by Crash's spin and jump attacks, which were useless against him in the previous one.
The Dev Team Thinks of Everything: In the beginning of the game, if you enter a level but fail to retrieve its crystal (either by exiting back to the Warp Room through the Pause menu or by just flat-out ignoring it), Cortex will yell at you when you return. Three different times, as a matter of fact.
Difficulty By Region: The European version is very slightly easier: the Belly Flop has a wider radius, the shield enemies are slower, and it's easier to jump over a wall of boxes without breaking any (in a level that requires you to avoid breaking any boxes to get a gem). However, if you die during a "Death Route" you don't get another chance (unlike the North American version, which only required you to reach it without dying the first time).
Disconnected Side Area: The game could get horrible with this. Most levels were perfectly linear, but there were all sorts of level segments that were blatantly impossible to get to from their respective levels. You have to find secret elevators from other levels and eventually the secret Warp Room in order to get to them, rendering 100% Completion for those levels (breaking all the boxes) impossible until very late in the game.
Down the Drain: The sewer levels (The Eel Deal, Sewer or Later and Hangin' Out). They could be difficult on the Hidden and Skull Routes.
The Dragon: Tiny is this to Brio. Dr. N. Gin replaces Brio as Cortex's supporter for the penultimate boss, where he tries to take Crash's crystals by force.
It is worth noting there is some ambiguity over Tiny's allegiance, only Cortex states him to be an ally of Brio, and the majority of what he told Crash throughout the game was Blatant Lies, he fights Crash in a personalized lair in what seems to be Cortex's space station after all. This would at least give some logic as to why Tiny is suddenly converted to Cortex's most loyal minion in Crash Bandicoot 3: Warped. This ties into the fact that Cortex has secretly been planning to take the crystals this whole time.
Dumb Muscle: Tiny is powerful enough to rip through metal, and dumb enough to fall for Crash's trick three times.
Dummied Out: Tiny's original name was Taz Tiger. How do we know this? In the NTSC version, they accidentally left this name in the pause menu. Corrected in the PAL version, as well as all future releases.
Enemy Mine: Cortex asks Crash for help in order to gather enough crystals to avert an Earth-Shattering Kaboom. Later, N. Brio tries to recruit Crash to his side. Both of them claim to be working for the common good, but this trope fits N. Brio best because he hates Cortex and would rather side with his own arch nemesis (Crash) than work for his former employer.
Eternal Engine: The Piston It Away, Rock It, Pack Attack and Space Out levels look awfully like this.
These level types all seem to take place in sattelites orbiting the Earth. Why the Power Crystals would be there, though...
Everything's Worse with Bees: Diggin' It and Bee-Havin' contained swarms of bees which pursued Crash if he ran past their hive, and stung him if he wasn't quick enough. Judging from his reaction, Crash is allergic to bee stings.
Extended Gameplay: You can claim to have "beaten" the game after collecting the crystals and defeating the final boss, but after that the player can go back and find the gems as well.
Fake Trap: In one of the "bee" levels, there's a ladder-like structure made of metal boxes and the normally lethal Nitro boxes. However, this time they don't blow up and the Nitro boxes don't wobble and jump like the normal ones. Climb them, go on, teleport to a secret area.
Crash 2 loves to toss those little hints at you. Here's another one for this particular kind of Fake Trap: Why are Nitro boxes randomly placed off to the side of the main path? Also in the Un-Bearable level after the bear crashes through the bridge - that "bottomless pit" isn't as bottomless as you may think.
Five-Bad Band: Ripper Roo, the Komodo Brothers, Tiny Tiger, N.Gin, and the final boss. Played with, since they're not actually all on the same side.
Either way though, they are all allies of Uka Uka in later titles.
Frickin' Laser Beams: N. Gin's initial line of offense in the penultimate boss fight is to fire laser beams from his HumongousMecha's arms. Near the end of the fight, the stomach opens up to release a larger green laser blast that can melt metal in seconds. In the Rock It and Pack Attack levels, laser beams will occasionally fire across the pathway, connecting two pairs of receptors in a predictable pattern. In the final cutscene, Brio has an enormous laser which, with the help of Crash, he uses to blast Cortex's space station.
Friend or Foe: Whether Cortex has really done a Heel-Face Turn or not is not revealed until the end. Brio is also slightly suspicious until the end.
Good Is Dumb: Crash is gullible enough to be fooled by Cortex into collecting the crystals for him, though to be fair it's not like he can just walk home if he doesn't want to continue. Coco is the opposite.
Also note he is seemingly suspicious enough to refuse handing the crystals to N. Gin despite Cortex's orders.
Good Is Not Dumb: Coco is a computer genius, first hacking into Cortex's holographic projector, and then accessing Cortex's computer files to expose his plans. Crash is the opposite.
Gravity Screw: The majority of the Rock It and Pack Attack levels function in zero gravity, which makes sense on an earth-orbiting satellite. However, at the beginning and the end of either level, the gravity acts as it would do on the planet surface, as if artificial gravity had just been switched off and on.
Green Hill Zone: The introductory level, Turtle Woods, and The Pits act like this.
Ground Pound: Crash gains a Ground Pound attack in this game, with which he can belly-flop onto unsuspecting enemies or bust open metal-enforced crates that would otherwise seem impenetrable.
In a game where you do a lot of smashing up crates, you can only get the blue gem featured in the first level by making it to the end while not smashing ANY crates, including checkpoint ones. And you're supposed to know this. The game gives a subtle hint, however - if you obtain the Clear Gem (by getting all the crates) in the level, then play through it again, you'll notice the end-of-level "crate count" now reads (your current number of crates)/0. Make it 0/0 and you get the Blue Gem.
The secret areas in this game are even moreso, often requiring extreme acrobatic feats and/or Violation of Common Sense to reach. One requires you to fall down into a pit the polar bear chasing you recently opened, despite just about every video game ever telling you that pits are bad. Another has you jumping on top of a stack of Nitro crates, which you have been taught up to this point to avoid like the plague (although this one is a bit less insane, since they're off the beaten path and are stair steps, and they also don't wiggle and bounce like the others). Yet a third has you passing through an innocuous-looking fake wall. With bizarre requirements like these, it's no wonder future secret areas were basically relegated to Gem and Skull Routes.
You're going to swear even more after you run into Camera Screw-based traps. For instance, ever find yourself wondering where you missed those two boxes in Un-Bearable even after you've found its secret area? They were both hidden just offscreen! In that same secret area, actually.Surprise!
There's a similar hidden box in the level Cold Hard Crash. It's located offscreen above two bounce boxes.
Those annoying logs tossed at you in the "Ruin" levels? You can spin those away safely.
Heroic Mime: Emphasis on the 'mime' - just watch Crash's animations and you'll see just how expressive his new model is.
Hub Level: Crash can access five levels from each of these hubs, or Warp Rooms, and the platform in the centre of the room takes him up to the next boss fight. There is also a load/save screen in each one. This was the first game to introduce the Warp Room concept, which became a staple in the Naughty Dog series after that. There's also a secret Warp Room that is only accessible via certain subtle means.
Inexplicable Treasure Chests: Beyond being a gameplay feature, the crates that Crash finds are placed in some pretty odd locations, from temple ruins to snowscapes to sewers.
Infinite One Up: In one of the levels, after you get into a secret area, there'll be a checkpoint crate, 2 1-Up crates floating offscreen, and a Bottomless Pit nearby. Get the 2 life crates, fall into the pit and lose a life, respawn, and you can get the 2 crates again, so everytime you lose a life, you gain two - this can be repeated ad nauseam. note Normally, life crates will turn into wumpa crates if Crash dies, but not for these particular two crates. May be a case of a Good Bad Bug.
Instant Gravestone: Being killed by a sledge hammer produces a grave stone with Crash's face on it.
Amazingly inverted; if you sit through the entire opening cutscene, you get to play an intro stage which gives you the opportunity to earn an Aku Aku mask and a couple of extra lives. This intro stage also has bottomless pits here and there. This effectively means that it's possible to kill yourself and get a Game Over before the game proper even starts.
Played straight in Tiny Tiger's boss battle; when you succeeded to make Tiny leap over the falling platform, several other platforms will also start to fall down. Stand on the right platform (i.e the one that doesn't flash red) and you're safe.
Killer Rabbit: The giant mice, the penguins, the turtles and those gophers that lurk in The Pits.
Knight Templar: According to the manual, to emphasize the unknown morality of the people Crash faces, N Brio will do anything to get back Cortex, even if he blows Earth's only chance of survival in the process. Of course, it turns out Brio was telling the truth and Cortex is a big fat liar.
Last Lousy Point: If you don't know what is in the secret warp rooms, some gems will act like this, but it is mostly averted thanks to a user-friendly display above each Warp Room gate, which shows you what items you have collected from the level. The slots accept each crystal and gem when Crash collects them and gets to that level's end point, and any empty slots will mean that there is still a crystal or gem yet to be recovered. What makes them lousy, though, is about how hard it is to get some of those gems.
Laughing Mad: Ripper Roo reverts to his old mad self whenever a TNT blows up underneath his feet.
Law of 100: As usual, collecting one hundred wumpa fruit will earn Crash a new life.
Leitmotif: Cortex, N Brio and Coco all have distinct themes play during their projection cutscenes. Cortex and N Brio's themes (along with Ripper Roo's boss music) are remixed from their boss music from the original game, making it something of recurring Leitmotifs for the characters.
It is never made clear whether the boss battle was to stop Cortex from collecting the crystals or just Crash deciding to whoop his ass for tricking him. Judging by the Evil Laugh heard if Cortex flees, though, it's probably the former.
The Lost Woods: Night Flight and Totally Fly, where your only sources of light are the fireflies whirling around.
The Many Deaths of You: The Ur Example in this series. The game features lots of humorous death animations, intended to prevent players from snapping their controllers in frustration from dying over and over again.
Minimalist Run: In one of the levels, the only way to aquire the other gem is to beat the level without destroying a single crate.
Mook Maker: The beehives in Diggin' It and Bee-Havin', which respawn a swarm every time Crash passes a certain point.
Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: Crash almost hands the crystals over to the Big Bad and dooms the planet, and following this near miss detonates Cortex's space station, inadvertently leading to a chain of events that are revealed in the following game to lead to the release of Uka Uka, the Big Bad of Crash Bandicoot 3: Warped. Coco arguably plays The Hero role more straight in this title.
No OSHA Compliance: Piston It Away, Rock It, Pack Attack and Spaced Out look like various parts of a large engine or machine. It has walkways, sure, but the places are so unsafe it's obviously a Death Course in disguise.
No Sidepaths, No Exploration, No Freedom: Crash can only proceed along a linear path with the occasional bonus stage along the way. He can also progress to the next warp room only if he has collected all five crystals for the levels in it. At least the Warp Room levels can be tackled in any order.
Sometimes, however, taking the secret paths in the levels will bring you to another level or to the Secret Warp Room, making for a nonstandard item completion.
Papa Wolf: Polar's dad chases you throughout the "Unbearable" level, and he's not too happy about Crash using his son as a vehicle.
Pipe Maze: The sewer levels sometimes have secret passageways and forks, which all taken together would barely pass as a maze.
Piranha Problem: The mechanical piranhas in the river levels leap out of the water.
Plot Coupon: The game almost entirely revolves around collecting crystals and gems. Still, that does not make it any less fun.
Power Crystal: Obviously the crystals themselves, which will fuel Cortex's Cortex Vortex so that he can capture the solar flux energy, but Brio also wants the gems so that he can focus a laser on the space station and blow it to bits.
Power-Up Mount: The polar bear that appears in several levels moves very quickly and can make really long jumps.
Remember the New Guy: This is Coco Bandicoot's first introduction, and there is absolutely nothing in the last game to suggest that Crash even had a sister. Since Tawna simply vanished from the series after the first game, Coco was brought in to replace her.
Rock Beats Laser: How does the unarmed nature-loving Crash defeat the insane cyborg doctor N.Gin, who pilots a futuristic mecha? By throwing Wumpa fruits at it, of course! Attack Its Weak Point has never failed yet!
Ruins for Ruins' Sake: Two levels are based on this theme, and feature such horrors as frilled lizards, leaping monkeys, rabid giant mice and lumber apes.
Save Game Limits: The game can only be saved at the Warp Room load/save screen, but if you pause the game you can quit a level so that you can reach any Save Point.
Sea Mine: Frustratingly common in the water-based levels such as Air Crash and Plant Food.
Secret Level: There are two secret levels and three secret level sidepaths which can only be accessed by a secret Warp Room, which itself can't be accessed except via secret routes in the main level.
Seldom Seen Species: Bandicoot, of course, but also Komodo dragon and thylacine. Think also of some of the enemies encountered in the levels.
Slippy-Slidey Ice World: Snow Go, Snow Biz and Cold Hard Crash are the obvious ones, but Naughty Dog evidently liked snow because they included the Polar levels Bear It, Bear Down and Totally Bear, and added snow features to decorate Crash Dash, Crash Crush, Un-Bearable, Diggin' It and Bee-Havin'.
In fact, Crash 2 overall seems to be taking place during winter, as snow is a common feature on the islands (see Artistic License - Geography). Notably, quite a few snow levels have a gorgeous sunset coloration.
Space Zone: The theme for the last Warp Room, and for four of its five levels. Three of the five boss battles occur in space, apparently on Cortex's space station.
Speech Impediment: Doctor Nitrus Brio has an obvious stutter and an apparent inability to control the volume of his own voice. He also bursts out into barely suppressed cackles at random moments, implying he's not all there in the head, either.
The Spiny: Several varieties of The Spiny appear, to accommodate the fact that the player could perform several types of attacks. For example, a basic turtle could either have the sides of his shell laced with deadly spikes (making the full-frontal spin attack impossible), and another could have a spinning sawblade on its back instead (which prevents players from defeating the enemy by jumping). Some enemies even switch back and forth between these two modes, especially in the later levels.
There's also one that has spikes laced on its neck and head; you have to use the Slide Attack for this one.
Variant: Porcupine enemies, if you're happen to be close, will extend their spikes and run around quickly, and Crash cannot attack them at all while they're in said state. You have to wait for them to stop and lower their guard.
Spoiler Title: You can guess that Cortex is up to no good looking from the title alone, even if he then appears to be helpful (or trying to be). And the title isn't lying.
Stock Scream: The Howie scream is heard whenever Crash kills the floating scientists in the jetpack levels.
The game is very liberal about doling out free lives, especially in the early stages where you can hit double-digits fairly quickly (plus, you can always go back and grind out more). That's because you will need them.
Tactical Suicide Boss: All of them are guilty of this to some degree. To give you an example, Ripper Roo lays down TNT and Nitro crates and then deliberately detonates them, knocking himself out long enough for Crash to exploit the opening. Too Dumb to Live, considering he supposedly Took A Level In Smartass during the interrim between Crash 1 and 2.
Title Scream: The title is spoken aloud if player didn't skip it.
Throwing Your Sword Always Works: The Komodo Brothers, Joe and Moe. They are throwing swords at one another, catching them, before they see that Crash has arrived. Once the fight is started, Joe is spun at Crash, while Moe tosses his magically respawning blades at him.
Where the Hell Is Springfield?: Where exactly is Crash going whenever he enters a level? The locations look completely different from the ones in the original game, so they don't seem to be parts of the peninsular, but where are, for example, the snowy levels and the Piston It Away and Spaced Out levels?
X Must Not Win: According to the manual, N Brio will do anything to make sure Crash and Cortex fail, even if means dooming the planet. As it turns out though, there's a good reason Brio did what he did: the world isn't actually in danger.