Bonus Rounds are a type of alternative route in a level that is accessible through exploring the standard path of a level. Out of all three types of alternative routes, (bonus rounds, gem paths, and death routes), the bonus round is the most easily accessed. Unlike the other two alternative routes, the bonus round has no special qualifications for entrance. If the player dies while in the bonus round in the first Crash Bandicoot game, the player cannot return to it until they re-enter the level altogether. If the player dies while in the bonus round in the later games, however, the player will nearly be returned to the bonus round platform without losing a single life. The only penalty of dying in the bonus round is losing all of the Wumpa Fruit, lives and smashed crate tallies obtained while in there, and losing the Aku Aku mask. However, in the bonus round in the first Crash game, the player gets to keep the Wumpa Fruit and lives obtained and crates in the bonus round aren't counted toward crates in the level. Once completed, the bonus round cannot be accessed again until the player re-enters the level. Bonus rounds appear in all games up until Crash Twinsanity, where they were removed due to a three-dimensional world design for levels in the game. However, they do make a reappearance in the Nintendo DS version of Crash of the Titans.
The bonus rounds that appear in the original Crash Bandicoot are triggered by collecting three different types of character tokens: Tawna, N. Brio, and Cortex tokens. In order to activate the bonus round, Crash must collect all three tokens for one of these characters in a single level to access it. The tokens can either be found lying around in the level or hidden inside of crates. Once Crash collects all three tokens of a certain character in a level, he will be transported to their respective bonus round area where he will be able to break crates and gain extra lives. He will be able to save in certain bonus rounds by going onto a transport pad. The bonus rounds do not affect the total amount of crates Crash must collect in a level.
- Tawna Token - These are the most common tokens and are found on almost every level. When Crash collects three Tawna tokens, he will be transported to a forest-type environment where he will be able to break boxes and collect lives. At the end of the bonus round, Tawna will be standing by a portal and allows Crash to save his progress and to be given a password. Once Crash collects all of the Tawna tokens in a single level, he will not be allowed to participate in that bonus round again until the level is re-entered. Tawna tokens are found in fifteen of the game's levels. In some of those levels, completing the bonus round will save at that level. For example, Jungle Rollers is one of these levels. If the last Tawna bonus round completed is in Jungle Rollers, then if the player restarts the game or runs out of lives and most load the save file again, the player will have to complete Jungle Rollers again to move ahead with the game. In some other levels with Tawna tokens, such as The Great Gate, completing the bonus round saves at the next level. If the last Tawna bonus round completed is in The Great Gate, then loading the save file will have all the levels unlocked through Boulders, which is the level after The Great Gate. Technically, the player could move ahead without finishing The Great Gate. However, whenever a Tawna bonus round saves at the next level, it is because the third token is located very close to the end of the level, so the developers assumed that almost anyone who reaches the bonus round will be able to finish the level. Below are the levels containing Tawna bonus rounds.
- Jungle Rollers (saves at this level)
- The Great Gate (saves at the next level, Boulders)
- Upstream (saves at the next level, Papu Papu)
- Rolling Stones (saves at this level)
- Native Fortress (saves at this level)
- Up the Creek (saves at the next level, Ripper Roo)
- The Lost City (saves at the next level, Temple Ruins)
- Road to Nowhere (saves at the next level, Boulder Dash)
- Sunset Vista (saves at the next level, Koala Kong)
- Heavy Machinery (saves at this level)
- Generator Room (saves at this level)
- Toxic Waste (saves at the next level, Pinstripe)
- The High Road (saves at the next level, Slippery Climb)
- Jaws of Darkness (saves at the next level, Castle Machinery)
- The Lab (saves at this level)
- N. Brio Token - These tokens are uncommon and only appear in a handful of levels. They are considerably more difficult to complete than the Tawna rounds and have no important purpose other than to collect a few extra lives and achieve a sense of accomplishment when completing. When Crash collects three Brio tokens, he will be transported into a cave-like area. Brio bonus rounds are filled with TNT crates and tricky jumps. Crash will be able to collect additional lives and Wumpa Fruit in this level. Unlike the other two bonus rounds, Crash can still participate in Brio rounds after completing one in a certain level. Brio rounds do not allow Crash to save his progress, however. The music in these bonus rounds is the same music heard in N. Brio's boss fight. Once Crash completes a Brio round, N. Brio will be standing near the exit and pouring his chemicals from one beaker to another. Very quickly after Crash jumps on the final platform, N. Brio will smash the 2 beakers together and there will be an explosion. The explosion doesn't hurt Crash in any means. Only four levels (Rolling Stones, The Lost City, Heavy Machinery, and Slippery Climb) contain this type of token. The remake adds an additional level, Stormy Ascent, which also features N. Brio tokens.
- Cortex Token - These tokens are extremely rare and appear in only two levels (Sunset Vista and Jaws of Darkness). Most of these tokens are well hidden and are very hard to obtain. When Crash collects three Cortex tokens, he will be transported to a dungeon-like stage. Crash must travel through a path of TNT crates in order to get to the end of the bonus round. Once Crash reaches the end of the level, Cortex will fly away, dropping a key for Crash to use that will unlock a secret level on the map, which is required to gather all of the gems in the game. The bonus round here will save Crash's progress unlike the N. Brio bonus round. These challenges are extremely difficult since the player only gets one chance. If the player fails, they must either complete the level and then go back through it, collecting the tokens again, or exit out of the level and re-enter it.
In Crash Bandicoot N. Sane Trilogy, the mechanics of the bonus rounds have been altered to be closer to later games in the series. Collecting three tokens doesn't warp Crash instantly to their corresponding bonus round, but instead opens a portal near where the final token of a level is located. Said portal remains open until the round is won, even if Crash fails the bonus level, making the bonus round much more forgiving as players have as many tries as they need to complete them. Also, the bonus rounds' crates are now necessary to break in order to obtain a level's gem. In the case of levels with colored gems, failing bonus rounds doesn't count as a death in the level, so players may fail a bonus round as often as needed with no penalties.
The bonus rounds that appear in Crash Bandicoot 2: Cortex Strikes Back and later installments are all accessed by a special platform in a level. When Crash utilizes the platform, he will fall, be teleported or transported to a special section of a level that is similar to the level or warp room's theme. In these bonus rounds, Crash can collect additional Wumpa Fruit, lives, and smashed crate tallies. Crash must collect the crates in the bonus round in order to collect the clear gem at the end of the level. If Crash dies in a bonus round, he will be allowed to retry it as many times as desired without losing a life. Crash will occasionally have to perform special techniques and tasks in later bonus rounds, an idea beginning in Crash Bandicoot: Warped. Unlike the previous bonus round style, the one used in Cortex Strikes Back and in Warped displays the Wumpa Fruit, life, and smashed crate tallies at the bottom at all times, only added to the main tallies after the bonus round is complete. When the player exceeds 100 Wumpa Fruit in a bonus round, instead of a cyclical tally with a life being obtained after every one hundred fruit, the Wumpa Fruit tally will just continue to add up until the round is complete.
The bonus rounds that appear in Crash Team Racing and Crash Nitro Kart are accessed by beating an area's boss. To enter the bonus round, all the player has to do is drive onto a purple warp platform. The bonus round requires the player to collect all 20 crystals before the time runs out. If successful, the player earns a purple CTR or CNK token. These levels in CTR include Skull Rock in the N. Sanity Beach area, Rampage Ruins in The Lost Ruins area, Rocky Road in the Glacier Park area, and Nitro Court in Citadel City. In CNK, they are Temple Turmoil in Terra, Frozen Frenzy in Barin, Desert Storm in Fenomena, and Magnetic Mayhem in Teknee.
- Crash Bandicoot
- Crash Bandicoot 2: Cortex Strikes Back
- Crash Bandicoot: Warped
- Crash Team Racing
- Crash Bandicoot: The Wrath of Cortex
- Crash Nitro Kart
- Crash Bandicoot: The Huge Adventure
- Crash Bandicoot 2: N-Tranced
- Crash Bandicoot N. Sane Trilogy
- Crash Bandicoot 4: It's About Time
- Prior to the Crash Bandicoot N. Sane Trilogy, Crash Bandicoot: The Wrath of Cortex was the only game in which Coco could play the bonus rounds and that they play from right to left as well as from left to right, while all other games only have Crash running from left to right.
- Crash Bandicoot, Crash Bandicoot: The Huge Adventure, Crash Bandicoot 2: N-Tranced, Crash Bandicoot N. Sane Trilogy and Crash Bandicoot 4: It's About Time are the only games where, after completing the bonus rounds, they act as checkpoints.
- Crash Bandicoot 4: It's About Time is the first mainline Crash Bandicoot to feature enemies in bonus rounds. It's also the first Crash Bandicoot game to feature nitro switch crates in bonus rounds.
- Some of the Bonus stages in It's About Time have made reference to past bonus stages from previous Crash Bandicoot games. For example, in the level Jetboard Jetty, the bonus round is a throwback to Cortex's bonus round in Jaws of Darkness, and in the level Off-Balance, the bonus stage is a throwback to the Tawna bonus stage in Sunset Vista from the first game.