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Video Game / Crash Bandicoot: The Wrath of Cortex

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Uka Uka: Hm... Element... Elements... Yeeeees! The Elementals!
Dr. Cortex: Right! The Elementals, that's it! If released, their destructive energy could create enough power to bring my secret weapon to life! We'd have a weapon capable of crushing mountains; demolishing entire cities!
Uka Uka: And wiping Crash Bandicoot off the face of the Earth forever!
Dr. Cortex: Get ready to face my wrath, Crash Bandicoot! (Evil Laugh)

The sixth installment in the Crash Bandicoot series and the fourth platformer title. Crash Bandicoot: The Wrath of Cortex was also the first title in the series to leap to a sixth-generation console. Being solely published by Universal Interactive Studios after parting ways with Sony, Traveller's Tales' Knutsford division developed it and was originally released on the PlayStation 2 (in association with Konami, which published all versions of the game in Japan) and later ported to the Xbox and Nintendo GameCube, the latter being ported by Eurocom.

Within their secret lair in deep space, Dr. Cortex and his cronies are sour over their previous defeats by Crash Bandicoot. Uka Uka is giving them an intense chewing out, they still haven't conquered the world, and their current evil productivity is pathetic. During their conversation over how to eliminate their nemesis, N. Gin mindlessly mentions Dr. Cortex's super secret project, Crunch Bandicoot, a super mutant with unbelievable strength. However, he requires a completing element. Uka Uka immediately devises upon releasing The Elementals, a destructive band of element-controlling elder masks that had previously been imprisoned by Aku Aku, that can be used to power Crunch as well as bring chaos and destruction to the entire planet. Once again it is up to Crash and his sister Coco to save the day.

The Wrath of Cortex contains examples of:

  • Accidental Misnaming: The developers didn't get N. Tropy's name right, calling him "N. Trophy". Cortex refers to him as "N. Trophy" in the opening cutscene; the credits even spell his name as such.
  • Action Girl: Coco, even more so than in Warped. Instead of just riding vehicles, Coco actually has her own platforming levels.
  • Actor Allusion: In his introductory cutscene, Rok-Ko calls Crash a "Fuzzhead", a modified version of Biff Tannen's signature "Butthead" insult.
  • Added Alliterative Appeal: The developers sure had fun with the levels' names: "Fahrenheit Frenzy", "Banzai Bonsai", "Medieval Madness", "Rumble in the Roks", "Sea Shell Shenanigans", "Drain Damage" and "Coral Canyon".
  • Advancing Wall of Doom: In "Wizards and Lizards", you have to run from a giant dragon, while in "Jungle Rumble" to take control of a jeep to drive away from a herd of rhinos. And let's not forget the tsunami in the aptly named "Tsunami", or the wall of fire in "Crate Balls of Fire".
  • All There in the Manual: The origin of the Elementals is more thoroughly explained in the manual.
  • All Your Powers Combined: The Final Boss sees using the power of all Elementals.
  • Alternative Foreign Theme Song: The Japanese version once again utilizes the "Crash Bandy Kuu!" title theme used in previous games.
  • The Artifact: The expanding ability set seems to have only been thrown in out of obligation for it having been in the last game, as half of the abilities see a lot less proper justification for being included when the level design is considered (though several tricky jumps as well as Time Trial mode still make the Double Jump, Death Tornado Spin and Turbo Run abilities relevant). The game's one new extra ability is particularly circumstantial and as soon as you unlock the aforementioned abilities you can use them to cheese past most areas it is necessary.
  • Bag of Spilling: Crash loses all of the powers he gained from the previous game, and has to re-obtain them the exact same way he did in Warped. The only change is that the body slam was changed to the tiptoe move, and you could now get the "Super Body Slam" through a gem route.
  • Beware the Silly Ones: The Elementals are goofy pun-spouting masks, but as both Aku Aku and Uka Uka know, their power is nothing to be scoffed at. Levels such as "Tsunami", "Avalanche", and "Crash and Burn" show how their weather inducing magic can lay waste to the world the bandicoots inhabit, not to mention how they align with Crunch...
  • BFG: Crash can unlock the Fruit Bazooka power up from Warped. Incidentally, the mech's target fire works exactly the same.
  • Blackout Basement: The secret level "Knight Time", which is essentially a slightly tweaked variation of "The Gauntlet" - you play as Coco, most of the major traps are disabled, and you have only a firefly to light your way through.
  • Bonus Level: '?' marked platforms are back, as are Death Routes and crystal platforms. The former is somewhat easy occasional crate bridges aside, while the latter two are Nintendo Hard. Especially the two you play as Coco. Also, here Death Routes always lead to a colored gem.
  • Brainwashed and Crazy: Crunch, as it turns out. After the Elementals are defeated, the "missing element", that is, Cortex's control over his mind, is missing once again.
  • Call-Back: One of Crash's deaths features the screen going black, save for Crash, who twirls and falls on his back. Sound familiar?
  • The Cameo: Nitrous Oxide flies through title screen before the Traveller's Tales logo shows up.
  • Cat-and-Mouse Boss:
    • The third boss, a molten lava mutation of Crunch chases after you. The tables turn after you make your way to a mech with a firehose.
    • A variant with Rok-ko, where Crash's health is in percent. Crash is in the atlasphere and has to hit a bunch of rocks that Aku Aku uses to hit Crunch. Crunch, meanwhile, can just charge right at you... AND hit the rocks himself to power up his charges. A Crunch charge with all rocks in his favor can easily hit you for up to one half of your health.
  • Can't Catch Up: Coco, as a result of being able to use only two of the unlockable special moves, slowly becomes more inferior to play as than Crash. Amusingly, it's subverted literally, as one of them is the Crash Dash move, making her equally efficient for Time Trials.
  • Chuck Cunningham Syndrome: This is the first Crash game since the original to not feature Polar.
  • Convection, Schmonvection: On par with other games. Metal floor over river of lava inside a volcano doesn't melt at all and bamboo in later volcanic level doesn't catch fire at all. The latter is especially weird, because trees in the very same level actually are on fire.
  • Cores-and-Turrets Boss: It's very cleverly hidden, but the Atmospheric Pressure (Air Crunch) boss is this. He has 4 attacks from different body parts that he uses in sequence. Damaging one enough will cause Crunch to stop using it for the remainder of the fight. This is why the last attack remaining is often his ball hurl or the energy beam, since his hands are the hardest to hit (with the ball hurl, he uses his right arm to cover himself, and for the energy beam you have to put yourself in the line of fire to get a clear shot).
  • Crate Expectations: Expected, but really ridiculous even by series' standards. Only a few non-gimmick levels have less than 100 crates. Granted, quite a few of them are TNT or Nitro crates.
  • Creative Closing Credits: A rather odd one, with Crash and a disco-styled Cortex Commando jiving to the music from "Solar Bowler".
  • Crutch Character: As stated above, Coco starts out with Crash's base move set and a couple of variations, but only learns two of the unlockable abilities throughout the game. Downplayed from the fact Coco has her own set of levels tailor made for her more limited gameplay.
  • Dancing Mook Credits: The credits sequence has Crash dancing with a Disco Dan variant of the Lab Assistant enemy.
  • Death from Above: Many, but notably the fourth boss summons a starfall as one of his attacks that hits for quite a lot of damage and first time you might even wondering what's happening until you see stars falling on you.
  • Degraded Boss: Dingodile, Tiny, N. Tropy, and N. Gin, who only appear as regular mooks in the Atlasphere, racing or dogfight levels.
  • Demoted to Extra: The first four bosses from Warped - Tiny, Dingodile, N. Tropy and N. Gin - appear only briefly in the introduction, following which they appear only as stage hazards in a few levels. Pura, a playable character in previous titles, also makes only a cameo in the opening and ending cutscenes.
  • Did You Just Punch Out Cthulhu?: The only one of the Elemental-powered Crunches Crash is able to physically hit is Wa-Wa, who literally turns Crunch into a living wall of water. Everything else requires either special technology or, in the case of Rok-ko, Aku Aku's magic.
  • Divergent Character Evolution: In Crash Bash, Coco was an alternate for Crash in terms of gameplay, having an identical spin attack. Here Coco has obtained kick attacks in their place. Granted it could be taken with a grain of salt since her abilities overall still work to the same effect as Crash's (albeit with a lower number of abilities). Arguably keeping her with identical moves as Crash would have actually been more productive.
  • Do Not Touch the Funnel Cloud: Cortex actually generates almost harmless tornadoes with floating mechs.
  • Double Jump: Crash gains this move after defeating Wa-Wa, the second boss.
  • Double Unlock: The only condition to get the final ending is to have all gems. Of course, some of them are in secret levels that have to be unlocked first by getting relics, meaning you need to do time trials as well.
  • Dull Surprise:
    • Coco and Crunch noticeably never change facial expressions no matter how they're supposed to be feeling at that moment.
    • Also Tiny and Dingodile in the intro cutscene. While the other villains at least manage some awkward looking upset expression as Uka Uka chews them out, these two just have their usual menacing scowl throughout.
  • Easy Level Trick: The minecart race against Crunch in Ghost Town can be won without pressing a single button.
  • Elemental Powers: The Elementals, funnily enough. Crunch counts as well when they boost his powers.
  • Eternal Engine: Every fifth level is this, mixed in with theme of the hub they're accessible from, with the exception of secret level.
  • "Eureka!" Moment: The reason Cortex gives for not unleashing Crunch is he needs a proper source of power, which he cites as the key element. The use of "element" gives Uka Uka the idea to free the Elementals and use their power to charge up Crunch.
  • Exactly What It Says on the Tin: A level called "Tsunami". Guess what you're running away from really fast? Also, a similar level later on in the game, "Avalanche".
  • Expressive Mask: Aku Aku and Uka Uka. Even more so in beta footage where Aku is animated constantly miming chatter during gameplay.
  • Extended Gameplay: Akin to Warped after collecting all the crystals, there are the gems, time relics (of three different difficulties) and five hidden stages. Furthering on and collecting all these goodies can expand your completion percentage to 106%.
  • Failures on Ice: Coco is barely able to stay up on ice platforms. Ironically, Crash is more adept.
  • Fake Difficulty: High box totals are not uncommon, but a frequent occurrence is to have 1/4 to 1/3 of the boxes as Nitro crates, particularly on levels with alternate paths where the main difficulty of the alternate path is getting around the Nitro. So it's entirely likely you'll have 80-90 boxes on a regular path and hit the Nitro detonator for the remaining 30-40 you'll never encounter until a later run.
  • Game-Over Man: Cortex again.
    Cortex: Giving up?...
  • Gameplay and Story Segregation: The manual describes Py-Ro as being the leader of the Elementals, as well as him speaking the most for the Elementals during cutscenes. What helps cement this further is Crunch saying, "Let's finish this," right before you enter Crashes to Ashes, as well as Uka Uka specifically stating, "He's defeated Rok-Ko and Wa-Wa," right before entering Lo-Lo's domain, implying that Py-Ro was the last Elemental to be faced. Despite this, Py-Ro is merely the third Elemental faced, with Lo-Lo being taken on last.
  • Giant Space Flea from Nowhere: Why, exactly, are you racing a polar bear riding a magic carpet in "Ice Station Bandicoot"? It makes mildly more sense upon researching the games development, the original level was an on foot area with the bear as an enemy.
  • Goofy Print Underwear: The Knight enemies (who for some reason have no pants?) wear white boxers with red dots.
  • Guide Dang It!: Getting the platinum relic on "Gold Rush" requires you to use the Mercy Invincibility you get from taking damage with an Aku Aku mask to run along a Bottomless Pit instead of wasting time climbing along the monkey bars. This is the only time in the game that you need to do this to get a platinum relic.
  • Hub Level: Coco conveniently enough just finished whipping one up as the Elementals attacked. And it looks near exactly like the one in Warped as well.
  • Just Plane Wrong: The red and green navigational lights on Crash's plane are on the wrong sides.
  • Knight of Cerebus:
    • Though Mark Hamill's hammy acting ensures he is still somewhat entertaining, Py-Ro comes off as much more sinister and manic than his brethren, even referred to as the strongest and most evil mask in the manual. He was in fact meant to be the final Elemental boss, but was switched with Lo-Lo for unknown reasons.
    • Crunch himself lacks most of the Laughably Evil traits of Cortex's other minions; the creepy transformations caused by the Elemental masks don't help. This however, proved to be a result of being Brainwashed and Crazy, as later games show, the normal, good-natured Crunch isn't serious or intimidating, at all.
  • Late-Arrival Spoiler: If you played Crash Nitro Kart (particularly if you read its manual, which outright gives it away), you would know of Crunch's Heel–Face Turn in the 106% ending. If you played other games past that it could also count, but seeing how one of those games qualifies as Go-Karting with Bowser...
  • Lethal Lava Land: "Crash and Burn" is an island in the middle of a volcanic eruption. The same island also seems to appear in "That Sinking Feeling", but you fly over it instead. "Fahrenheit Frenzy" is also this with Eternal Engine mixed in.
  • Loads and Loads of Loading: The original PS2 version suffered from very long loading times. You could be waiting up to a minute just to play each level. The "Greatest Hits"/"Platinum" versions fixed this to a more reasonable fifteen or so seconds. The Xbox and GameCube ports speed it up to only five or so seconds. Supposedly, through Word of God, the reason this happened was because there was supposed to be a mini-game during the loading screen (a case of Anti-Frustration Features) where you would guide Crash through hyperspace. Due to a patent that Namco had towards loading screen mini-games though, this had to be scrapped and the loading times couldn't be fixed in time for the initial release.
  • The Many Deaths of You: As usual, the developers take great fun in imagining any possible amusing manner Crash can lose a life, ranging from being torched to ashes, turned into a bat or being frozen in a block of ice. Coco gets in on it too, though not nearly to the same extent.
  • Marathon Level:
    • Gold Rush is really long by Crash standards, with 209 crates to smash, which makes getting both the gem and the platinum relic quite a challenge. The only level to come close to this prior is "Cold Hard Crash" from Cortex Strikes Back, which had 155 boxes.
    • Most of these are marathon levels compared to the previous installments; 120 boxes is a norm rather than an exception.
  • Minecart Madness: The start of Compactor Reactor. Ghost Town, meanwhile, is a mine-cart race. Also variation in Gold Rush, where Crash rides a handcar in one moment.
  • Mission-Pack Sequel: The Wrath of Cortex for the most part emulates the mechanics exactly as Warped had previously. It wasn't the last game in the series to follow this method, as anyone who's played Crash Nitro Kart can attest to.
  • Never My Fault: After another failure, Uka attempts to smoke Cortex with an energy ball as punishment, which misses and hits the circuitry of the space station, causing a breakdown.
    Uka Uka: This is all your fault! If you hadn't ducked out of the way, none of this would have happened!!!
  • No Sidepaths, No Exploration, No Freedom: Besides being loyal to how the series handled this trope by this point, it's actually an Enforced Trope due to how the game was programmednote , which requires straight paths to every exit and that any side path must either lead to its own exit or a dead end that requires you to go back to the main path. This had the side effect of removing the backtracking infamous for some gems in previous games, as the developers couldn't put any non-explosive crates in gem paths due to the engine. Ironically the game started out as something much more open; hints of this can be seen throughout the game, most prominently in the Atlasphere levels which are very wide open with multiple side paths.
  • Numbered Sequels: In Japan only, the game was titled Crash Bandicoot 4: Sakuretsu! Majin Power. This ended up creating a case of Similarly Named Works when in 2020, they announced Crash Bandicoot 4: It's About Time.
  • Pointy-Haired Boss: Uka Uka apparently turned into one since the previous title, even frequently managing a Mr. Spacely-style bellow of Cortex's name.
  • Outrun the Fireball: Well, more like outrun the Dragon, scared Wildlife, Tsunami, Avalanche and... well, an actual Fireball.
  • Pass Through the Rings: "Avalanche" has you snowboard through rings as a gem minigame, also used in "Ice Station Bandicoot" in a race. Against a magic carpet-riding polar bear no less...
  • Public Domain Soundtrack: The music during Atmospheric Pressure is a remix of In The Hall of the Mountain King by Edvard Grieg.
  • Re-Release Soundtrack: The Xbox and GameCube versions play the music from "The Gauntlet" on the "Medieval Madness" level, whereas the PS2 had a unique tune for "Medieval Madness".
  • Rhyming Names: Many of the level names: "Crashes to Ashes", "Wizards and Lizards", "Compactor Reactor", "Droid Void", "Cortex Vortex", "Solar Bowler", and "Jungle Rumble".
  • Secret Level: This time all of them are unlocked by collecting relics, no other tricks required.
  • Slippy-Slidey Ice World: Arctic Antics, Eskimo Roll, Avalanche, Ice Station Bandicoot and Force of Nature are all set in snowy climates, namely mountains and frozen lakes.
  • Sorting Algorithm of Evil: The Elementals are setup to be approached as this, however in an odd subversion Cortex sends the strongest of the Elementals, Py-Ro, before he resorts to Lo-Lo after Py-Ro fails to finish the job.
  • Stopped Numbering Sequels: Outside of Japan, the game is the first non-numbered main entry in the series. In Japan, the main series continued to be numbered until Crash Twinsanity, with Wrath of Cortex becoming Crash 4 in the region.
  • Suddenly Shouting:
    Cortex: "Why not just give up... AND LET ME WIN FOR ONCE!?"
  • Super Drowning Skills: Standard for Crash, though he can swim underwater, provided he has correct equipment. Inexplicably Coco gained this between Warped and this game (not accounting for the N. Sane Trilogy, of course).
  • Suspicious Video-Game Generosity:
    • In "Tsunami", there is a seemingly pointless checkpoint right before the exit portal. This is because if you destroy the Nitro boxes, the Death Route then becomes impossible as the boxes help form the stepping stones you need to get across (you're playing as Coco, who can't jump far enough to bridge the gap without them). If this situation occurs, you can jump in the water and return to the last checkpoint so you can try for the colored gem again on the same playthrough (otherwise you'd either have to double back and just exit via the normal portal or do the tsunami run all over again).
    • Unlike Warped, you are allowed to keep Aku Aku masks when activating time trials, which is just as well since some levels are longer and more challenging, and a lot of the vehicles are a One-Hit-Point Wonder without. Plus, unlike in Warped, time trials sometimes swap Nitro crates for regular or even time freezing boxes, making certain segments easier (especially in Atlasphere levels), likely for this reason.
    • Hanging and swinging across ceiling grids is much slower than in previous games. Expect to find a lot of time crates during the trials right before or during the grids - "Weathering Heights" gives you as much as 12 seconds of paused time before its hanging section.
    • On the topic of ceiling grids, levels that have them also tend to have very lenient Platinum times on top of the generous time crate placement to account for the slower movement speed. In "Gold Rush", for example, it's possible to beat the Platinum Relic time by over 20 seconds despite there being no less than five ceiling grid areas.
  • Took a Level in Badass: Coco has this compared to the original trilogy, having her own levels and platforming abilities, though not as good as Crash's. Her tech smarts have also upgraded from programmer and hacker to a gifted inventor.
  • Took a Level in Cynic: While Cortex was already quite jaded by Warped, the entire Rogues Gallery open this story completely fed up and sour from constantly losing to Crash, and are no longer motivated enough to spead evil productively. N Gin even outright suggests they just call it quits, though Uka Uka shoots it down instantly.
  • Unexplained Recovery:
    • In Crash Bandicoot 3: Warped, Cortex, Tropy, and Uka Uka were trapped in a time warp, with the scientists turned into babies. How they escaped and returned to their proper ages isn't revealed.
    • Despite spending most of the final boss attacking Cortex, the final ending shows Crunch knocked out and freed from mind control. This is a result of leftover development, the original storyboard had Crash fight Crunch directly and Cortex smash his control panel in a rage beforehand.
  • Unwinnable by Design: A very merciful example: detonating the Nitro crate at the normal end of "Tsunami" destroys the path to get to the colored gem, so you can't get both gems on the same playthrough. The game adds a checkpoint right before the normal exit portal so if you find yourself stuck you can just jump in the water and try again.
  • Upgrade vs. Prototype Fight: Crash, a disowned early genetic creation of Cortex, repeatedly battles against his new super powered mutant bandicoot, Crunch. In all five instances, Crash wins. Mostly through ingenuity and technology rather than straight physical fights; Crunch is only directly attacked in "Drain Damage".
  • Video Game Cruelty Potential: The very first level allows you to get Extra Lives by shooting mammoths with fruit bazooka. These don't endanger you in any way.
  • Villain Decay:
    • Uka Uka's Villain Decay really sets in during this game. Rather than being the menacing force of evil he was in Warped and Crash Bash, he comes across as a petty, loud-mouthed jerk who contributes next to nothing to Cortex's schemes after releasing the Elementals. Even when he finally loses his patience with Cortex and attacks him, he fails to hurt him in any real capacity. He recovers from this decay somewhat in Crash of the Titans, only to go through it again in Mind Over Mutant.
    • In the intro cutscene, Uka Uka lampshades this trope regarding the other villains. He scolds them for their inability to actually win even once and shows them a diagram that displays their Villain Cred, which is initially quite respectable, but plummets like a rock to the point where it's just pitiful.
    • In terms of Gameplay and Story Segregation however, this is actually reversed, with a large quantity of the game revolved around the bandicoots just trying to survive everything the bad guys throw at them. In particular several stages have Cortex's arsenal or the Elemental's powers literally levelling the whole area just to stop you, while even the demoted Warped bosses are now actively trying to stop you collecting crystals instead of just bantering threats at you. Combine this with Crunch's tricky boss fights and the fact the heroes are actually taking this face off much more seriously than their usual runs.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?:
    • N. Gin and N. Tropy disappear from the plot after the opening cutscene.
    • The Elementals disappear after the final boss battle, their fate never explained. While it is assumed the crystals are used to imprison the Elementals once again as Aku Aku implied, it is never even shown or referenced.
  • X-Ray Sparks:
    • During the Lo-Lo boss fight, Crunch's skeleton appears when he charges up electrical attacks.
    • At one point in "Fahrenheit Frenzy", Crash will run through an area inspected via X Ray vision. As expected, he has such an animation when killed via electrocution.
  • You Have Failed Me: Uka Uka attempts to punish Cortex with a fireball in the final ending... he misses and damages the space station.
  • You Have Researched Breathing: Aside from the dash ability (which you have to obtain again), this game also introduces the ability for...Crash to be able to tiptoe. It's the first power you get and although one could argue the use for it might not be considered "breathing" (that is, walking on lines of nitro crates), it's still pretty silly that Crash supposedly never knew how to tiptoe until he got it.
  • Your Princess Is in Another Castle!: When you play the final boss first time around, Uka Uka notes that it's not over yet as Crash hasn't collected all the gems, meaning they can resurrect the Elementals. You have to complete some bonus levels, collect all the relics and replay the final boss to trigger the definitive final cutscene.
  • Your Size May Vary: Coco is noticeably teeny in this game. Strangely, her hitbox and level design is even tailor-made to befit her smaller size from Crash.

Crunch: Crash, Coco, Aku Aku, I'm grateful to all of you. If it weren't for you, I'd still be under the control of Dr. Cortex! Thank you for believing in me, guys.
Coco: You're welcome, Crunch! Hey, do you think that's the last we'll see of Dr. Cortex and Uka Uka?
Aku Aku: I'd like to believe that, my children. But, somehow, I doubt that very much.


Video Example(s):

Alternative Title(s): The Wrath Of Cortex


Rhino stampede

Eventually, Crash will run into a herd of rhinos in a stampede and the only way to escape being trampled, is by jeep.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (2 votes)

Example of:

Main / AnimalStampede

Media sources: