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YMMV / Crash Bandicoot: The Wrath of Cortex

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  • Anti-Climax Boss: "Crunch Time", while still reasonably challenging, is a bit of a letdown. Rather than having a proper face off against Crunch, the boss consists of a slow endurance of panel attacks by the Elementals before spinning a helpless Cortex. Inexplicably, Crunch is knocked out by the final cutscene, despite never even getting to lay a finger on him. Early storyboards suggest the final boss was meant to have been far more eventful.
  • Author's Saving Throw:
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    • The Greatest Hits/Platinum re-release of the PS2 version was optimized slightly, halving most of the game's infamously long loading times, while the Xbox and Gamecube ports dumbed them down further. While the rest of the games' imperfections remain, many freely admit the game is enjoyable when more time is spent playing it than waiting for it to load.
    • This game fixes a problem in the PS1 games concerning the Nitro detonator crates, while only the Nitro crates themselves were destroyed if offscreen in previous titles, in this game it will also destroy any nearby crates with the same blast radius as normal, making gem missions a bit easier.
    • Perhaps due to the longer level spans, the game is noticeably more generous with Aku Aku masks than the previous games. If you manually exit a stage while in possession of a mask it will carry over to your next stage, where as in previous games you needed to complete the stage with a mask in order to bring it with you to another level. Masks will also not be taken from you if you activate Time Trial mode, allowing you to start them with a fighting chance.
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    • While levels come in varying degrees of difficulty, the stipulations are toned down to be more lenient to players. Backtracking is mostly abolished, and secret routes now lead to an alternate level exit instead of back to the original position to play the rest of the level as well. While this often means playing the same level twice, it often ensures against frustrating gem losses from completing a death route only to get a game over in the standard level.
  • Awesome Music: If nothing else, the game has a great soundtrack. Credit also has to go to having the largest soundtrack of any Crash game, with just over 40 original songs - one for each level.
  • Best Level Ever:
    • While having an ice level as a first level is an unorthodox decision, Arctic Antics makes a great first impression for having the right amount of challenge, no vehicles, and a good number of secrets to find.
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    • General consensus points towards Crash and Burn being the best level in the game for being the most aesthetically pleasing and a fair challenge for its point in the game (along with the total lack of vehicle gimmicks). It's one of the highlights for fans of the game.
    • The "reactor" levels (5, 10, 15, 20, and 25). The theme of each corresponds to the warp room's boss, and fits wonderfully as a final approach to each one.
  • Breather Level:
    • The Time Trials of all things, especially when comparing them to Warped. It's much easier to gain Gold or even Platinum times even in the gimmick levels than it is for most other games.
    • Gems too, since this game did away with backtracking completely.
  • Contested Sequel: Longtime fans tend to loathe it for feeling too similar to the originals (whilst also not executing them as well as the PS1 titles) without bringing much new, while others (especially those who played it as a young age or have less access to the Naughty Dog games) love it, sometimes exactly for that reason. Most will agree that there are far too few non-vehicle levels, however.
  • Franchise Original Sin: Well, kind of. While this game was notorious for being a carbon copy of Warped, it still held enough of its own that it managed to get a somewhat noteworthy following and it still introduced a lot of people to the series who began gaming on a fifth generation console. However, the next three games (Crash Bandicoot: The Huge Adventure, Crash Bandicoot 2: N-Tranced, and Crash Nitro Kart) would continue to make the same mistakes on an arguably worse level than this game did, which only further exasperated Naughty Dog's claim that they felt they had taken the series as far as it could go. The game's sequel, Crash Twinsanity, tried to address most of these complaints, but also received flak for having problems of its own.
  • Game-Breaker: The Fruit Bazooka is back and stays this way for all non-gimmick levels, even during time trials where it can earn you a second or two by shooting the clock with it.
  • Good Bad Bugs:
    • The player can be made immune to Bottomless Pits during their Mercy Invincibility time. This is especially gratifying during the otherwise painfully slow ceiling grid areas, where you can much more quickly lose an Aku Aku to run across the pit.
    • If you're going through one of the "Crash dying" animations, pause the screen and return to the main menu, and you can keep the life you "lost".
    • During time trials on some levels (such as Smokey and the Bandicoot, level 13), some 1-Up crates stay. The lives acquired from them still count to your total, but unlike in normal level runs, they don't turn into normal crates afterwards. Combine this with the possibility of resetting time trials instantly for infinite 1-Ups.
    • In the Playstation 2 version, pressing Select at the beginning of the "Wizards and Lizards" time trial will send you all the way to the end. A time trial meant to be completed in about 1:20.00 can be done in less than 5 seconds.
  • Harsher in Hindsight: "Tsunami" has you evading a tsunami in an Asian themed area and then exploring the flooded remains as a gem pathway. After the Japanese earthquake and tsunami in 2011, this level takes on a much darker feel.
  • Hilarious in Hindsight: One of the Elemental masks that trash talks Crash, Lo-Lo, is voiced by Jess Harnell. He went on to voice Crash himself in later entries in the series, starting with Crash Tag Team Racing in 2005.
    • Py-Ro the Fire Elemental is voiced by Mark Hamill, who would later go on to voice Fire Lord Ozai, an extremely powerful Firebender and Evil Overlord of the Fire Nation in Avatar: The Last Airbender.
    • In the manual's profile description for Dr. N. Tropy, it's mentioned that he creates time paradoxes for laughs. Fast forward to Crash Team Racing: Nitro-Fueled in 2019, where the Prehistoric Playground track exists as the result of Fake Crash stealing Tropy's tuning fork to do just that.
  • It's the Same, Now It Sucks!: The biggest gripe players had with this game was that it was a carbon copy of Warped, only adding new levels. One of the reasons Naughty Dog closed the door on Crash was because they felt they took the concept as far as it could; the mixed reaction to Wrath due to precisely this reason aided the notion they probably made the right move.
  • Narm: Crunch tries his best to be dark and brooding, but it just doesn't work out in a Crash game. Later titles got the point and made him Denser and Wackier.
    • The masks have... fluctuating competency in their between-level threats.
      Lo-Lo: IS THERE A DRAFT IN HERE!?
  • Narm Charm:
    • Mark Hamill as Py-Ro. A little hammy and darker than the standard Crash villain, but Py-Ro is basically the Joker in mask form and Hamill's performance is arguably the best in the game.
    • For the game as a whole: yes it's basically a Warped level pack, but the level designs and individual music means a unique atmosphere for each instead of re-using level sets, and outside of the characters can be a visual treat. The fact they're nearly all Marathon Levels gives you plenty of time to take it in, and a lack of backtracking means none of them overstay their welcome (unless you consider it That One Level).
  • Nightmare Fuel:
    • The Wizards and Lizards level due to its creepy theme and setting as well as that goddamn dragon in the final half of the level.
    • Tsunami is exactly as the name implies. Not only is the music and atmosphere fairly unsettling, but after finally escaping the titular storm, but the blue gem path afterwards involves you hopping across the flooded remains of the city.
    • The Droid Void level, particularly the second half when you enter the mech and have to go through darkness, with creepy, unsettling music playing throughout.
    • Fahrenheit Frenzy contains two x-ray sections where Crash's skeleton can be put on full display.
    • The Atmospheric Pressure boss fight. Not only is it That One Boss, Crunch looks incredibly creepy to say the least with those fangs and empty blue eyes. Plus, when you finally defeat him, he explodes into a pile of bones!
    • The Crashes to Ashes boss is even worse. Not only does it take the Advancing Wall of Doom trope and crank it Up to Eleven with both a wall of fire and a molten Crunch out for your blood, but Crunch also lets out ungodly roars every time he's prepped and ready to steamroll you down. Not only that, but the effects of Py-Ro's influence are causing an entire village to burn to the ground around you worse than anything seen in Crash and Burn, and you're helpless to try and stop it as you run for your life from Crunch. The music is also by far the most intense in the entire game.
  • Polished Port: The Xbox version has a few minor graphical bells and whistles, including better light and model textures, more ambient sounds, and health bars given to the remaining bosses. Some issues with the PS2 version such as the long loading times and the botched music loops are also fixed.
  • Porting Disaster: The GameCube version of the game, despite fixing the load times, had abysmal frame rate issues that caused the game to run below 30 frames per second in most places (no, not at 30...below). Opinions tend to vary whether this is a fair trade or not, but it's still not very excusable considering the GameCube exceeds the PS2 in power. Given the other versions are better in other ways, and the PS2 version got its loading times fixed with the Greatest Hits version, many will say the only reason to get this version (besides the unique GBA link minigame) is if you don't have any of the other consoles to play it on.
  • Presumed Flop: Despite getting fairly mediocre reviews and even mocked in Crash Twinsanity via a meta joke for "not doing quite as well as we hoped", the game sold over 3 million copies on PS2 alone and made for a Greatest Hits/Platinum/The Best reissue.
  • Scrappy Mechanic:
    • The considerable lack of on-foot platforming as Crash. You only spend six levels (of 30) note  and two bosses (of five) playing entirely as the Crash platformer-mode we all know and love. The other 24 levels are all either played as Coco, or spend at least half (if not all) of them in a vehicle of some kind (this is in contrast to 15 levels (of 32) in Crash Bandicoot 3: Warped, and 18 (of 27) in Crash Bandicoot 2: Cortex Strikes Back). To worsen this, half the vehicles and gimmicks in this game aren't considered very fun or efficient:
    • The mech found in Droid Void and Crate Balls of Fire. Clunky, hard to maneuver and easy to get hit as, it likely would have been easier and more fun to play the majority of the level as Crash himself.
    • The sub in the swimming levels is slow, large and easy to get hit, its missiles actually fire even slower (so much you can outpace the downward bombs) and it has an annoying two step turning phase, meaning you can get stuck facing the screen and unable to fire. Even worse, unlike its faster counterpart in Warped, it is no longer a disposable extra hit, you must play the level with it and if its destroyed, you die as well. Oh and did we mention it counts wumpa fruit as a target?
    • Jeep in both levels it appears in, due to catastrophic handling that makes you miss boxes more often than not.
    • Similarly, Coco. Anything she can do, Crash can do better, and one of her levels is a Crash level made simpler so that Coco could do it. At times this can feel like a throwback to the older games which are harder due to their lack of bazooka and such.
      IGN: Coco (is) a less powerful and less enjoyable playable character. Coco pops into specific levels and must be used to pass that area. She's just not fun the way Crash is. Crash is a silly creature to look at. He's almost absurd, which works great with his various animations. Coco isn't really silly at all. The game isn't called Crash and Coco, so why must I be forced to play her?
    • The ceiling grids in Droid Void, Weathering Heights, et cetera. They are so slow and irritating that the best way to do Weathering Heights' time trial is to actually give up invincibility in exchange for being able to run across the pit and skip the grids. This enables you to halve the Platinum time, and then some.
  • Scrappy Weapon: As if Coco wasn't already disliked enough, her sweep kick attack that works as a replacement for Crash's slide maneuver feels unbelievably tacked on and clunky. It offers no advantage over the regular spin attack aside from a few crates with nitros stacked on top requiring it, it stops you dead in your tracks to use, and it only attacks directly in front of you. Compounding it, the lack of sliding for Coco further means the slide jump also isn't possible with her, making this even more of an irritating design choice.
  • So Okay, It's Average: The general opinion of the game within the fan base. While still fairly enjoyable in many areas, it is for the large part, an inferior copy of Warped.
  • Special Effect Failure:
    • Uka Uka is surrounded by a red glow, as in previous titles, but at some points it becomes apparent that the "glow" is just a flat palette stuck to the back of Uka Uka's model. When Uka Uka faces away from the camera, we get a good view of the glow, and see that there's a hole right in the middle of the glow effect.
    • In certain levels such as Gold Rush, you can actually see the empty void where the modelling for the areas end.
    • In the GameCube version of the game, the final cutscenes are filled with horrible glitches ranging from Aku-Aku's feathers lacking the proper masking, turning them into colorful squares, to Crunch's lighting being JARRINGLY different to everything else in the scene.
  • Tear Jerker: The "Tsunami" level, which is set during a tsunami in a Japanese fishing village. The music doesn't help much either.
  • That One Boss:
    • Rumble in the Roks can be this if you really hate the atlasphere levels, as the entire boss is rolling Crash into rocks that Aku Aku uses to hurt Crunch. Crunch has really good accuracy between his charges and gets powered up if he hits a rock before you do.
    • Drain Damage will probably be the first major roadblock in the game where you see your life count decrease to 0. It is a fight against Crunch in the rain, using attacks that can be hard to dodge while making your way to him through a path of platforms that sink into the water. You have to hit him four times. Good luck.
    • Atmospheric Pressure. It is basically a clone of N. Gin's fights from the previous games, except with Air Elemental-powered Crunch, who takes many hits to defeat. Enough said.
  • That One Level:
    • "Smokey and the Bandicoot" due to the absolutely atrocious handling of the jeep you control. And unlike races in the previous games, you lose a life every time you fall in a hole. And getting the box gem almost requires driving at an absolute snail's pace to make sure you don't blow past any boxes.
    • The Blue Gem path in "Tsunami" because you have to play as Coco, have to jump diagonally and sometimes horizontally on a series of box-wide platforms. Depth Deception at its finest.
    • The two full swimming levels - Sea Shell Shenanigans and Coral Canyon - have terrible Time Trials. Tight requirements, poor control on the sub sections, and a whole host of annoying enemy placements make for some of the hardest Time Trials in the game. H2 Oh No's sub-based intro averts this by being relatively simple and straightforward by comparison.
  • They Wasted a Perfectly Good Character:
    • The Elementals are fairly undeveloped characters (unless you read the manual) and according to Aku Aku, are too unruly and powerful for even Uka Uka to control. They spend the entire game as mere power ups for Crunch, their fate not even explained during the ending. Even more so considering two of them are relatively big names - Wa-Wa is voiced by R. Lee Ermey of Full Metal Jacket fame and Py-Ro is voiced by freaking Mark Hamill.
    • As mentioned above, Coco's debut as a fully playable counterpart to Crash. In Warped, she was more like an embellished extra vehicle, with her becoming fully playable like Crash in this game. The way she's presented in the manual and supplementary materials seems to imply that she's supposed to be be faster and more adept at combat than Crash while having weaker athletic ability, but in practice she just ends up being worse than Crash in literally every way. Not only does she lack a slide or crawl move (using a stationary sweep-kick instead), but she only gains access to two of the power-ups (the Crash Dash and Super Stomp). Which means that while Crash grows stronger and more variable as the game progresses, Coco's skill remains near completely static from when she starts. To add to this, Coco's running and jumping is stunted from Crash's. Crash: Mind Over Mutant and Crash Bandicoot N. Sane Trilogy both addressed this by giving Coco a wider range of abilities and more of a personality, making her on par with Crash in those games.
    • Much like Polar in Warped, Pura only appears in the opening and closing cutscenes, not having any involvement gameplay wise. Even the on-rail segments akin to his mechanics involve replacement vehicles (most bizarrely a scooter). Especially glaring since the Asian themed levels of Warped where he originated make a return.
  • Underused Game Mechanic:
    • There are three newly-introduced Invisibility Crates throughout the entire game. Two of them are in the same level even, and one of them is during an X-ray section that has apparently the same effect. Granted, the crates have little effect besides making the player invincible, something the far more common Aku Aku crates can apply.
    • Given the amount of vehicles in the game, it's not really a surprise that many of them are used only once, but the Firefly, with its unique locking mechanism, really stands out, notably because it's not as annoying to use as some others.
    • Coco is only playable in six levels (two of which are vehicle centric). Given she's essentially a more limited skin of Crash, not much is missed, though it seems glaring given Coco's playability was a heavily advertised gimmick for the game.
    • An enforced case. The "semi-open" layout planned during the games' development stages is still apparent in odd stages, though Universal's mandate to make a more conventional Crash platformer for the multi console market means it is downplayed drastically and even the more out open levels tend to keep most items and enemies within a narrow layout, making the extra trekking space superfluous for the most part.
  • Unfortunate Character Design: Cortex's slanted, unmoving eyes combined with his skin tone and goatee make him a dead ringer for an old-fashioned Yellow Peril villain. Interestingly, Cortex's yellowish skin tone was retained in later installments despite his character model improving.
  • Vindicated by History: The game was panned by many at the time due to simply reusing Warped's formula. However, since nearly every title in the series afterwards started to drift more and more away from the originals, these days, it gets more appreciation for being one of the few multi-console Crash games to stay loyal to the classic mechanics, especially since the previous titles remained Sony exclusive until 2018.

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