Cortex Castle (also known as Castle Cortex) is Doctor Neo Cortex's first base in the Crash Bandicoot series. Even though it was set on fire at the end of the first game, areas of it survive and can still be seen as ruins in Crash Bandicoot 2: Cortex Strikes Back in the levels Road to Ruin and Ruination. A track based on it appeared in Crash Team Racing, as well as the Citadel City section of the same game, as players can clearly see many aspects of the castle within this area. He also used it as his base in Crash Nitro Kart before being abducted by Emperor Velo XXVII suggesting the entire castle was eventually rebuilt at some point.
During the development of the new Cortex Commandos, Cortex Castle was conceived more as a fortress than a castle tower. It was to be set atop a snowy mountain on Cortex Island. Atop the castle, Cortex's boss fight would take place.
The castle is located on Cortex Island and debuted in the original Crash Bandicoot game as the residence and base of operations of the game's main antagonist, Dr. Neo Cortex. According to the game, the castle was powered by the Cortex Power factory, a factory powered by a gargantuan nuclear chamber and owned by Cortex's minion, Pinstripe Potoroo. Crash's main goal in the game is to make his way to the castle and rescue his girlfriend, Tawna, from Cortex, who plans to use her for genetic experimenting in his Cortex Commando army. Inside the castle, the player battles Cortex's assistant, Dr. Nitrus Brio, as well as Cortex himself. After defeating Brio, some of the chemicals he was using to combat Crash set the castle alight, leaving Crash to flee through Cortex's lab and onto his airship where the final battle takes place.
In the alternate ending epilogue, it is stated that Papu Papu sold the ruins of the castle to a resort developer and used his newfound wealth to create a souvenir shop on the island, implying the fire destroyed the castle.
Crash Bandicoot 2: Cortex Strikes Back
In the original ending to the game, the castle can be seen in the ruin levels and the introduction in Crash Bandicoot 2: Cortex Strikes Back. It is considered a place where Cortex Strikes Back is set. It was built for gathering crystals to power up the Cortex Vortex. It contains the six warp rooms from the game which are connected via a small elevator in the center of the room. Boss characters can attack Crash when he is on his way to the next warp room. The instruction manual implies that Cortex examined his discovered crystal in his laboratory, implying he resided in the castle for a short period before leaving to create the Cortex Vortex. In addition, the castle also appears to contain the secret warp room housing levels 26 and 27. During the end of the game, the castle is also shown to contain N. Brio's base of operations where he destroys Cortex's space station with his laser beam. It is possible that Cortex regained his castle from the resort developers and rebuilt certain parts of the castle before leaving. This is supported by the fact that certain parts of the secret warp room appear to be destroyed, indicating that N. Brio secretly used the castle as his base of operations after Cortex left.
Crash Nitro Kart
Cortex Castle is seen in the intro, where it is again Cortex's base of operations, where Cortex, N. Gin, Tiny, and Dingodile are seen. The Evolvo-Ray is again seen when N. Gin attempts to zap a kart with it, but Tiny accidentally flattens Dingodile who was about to activate it. Then the tower that they're in gets abducted by Velo and later sent back to earth when Team Cortex accepts Velo's challenge.
In the Thumpin' Wumpa Islands level, Cortex Castle can be seen in the background of the level.
The inside of the castle is really dark. It requires Aku Aku to act as a light source. Part of the castle is a prison and another part is Nitrus Brio's lab.
Cortex Vortex Room
The Cortex Vortex room is the room that contains the Cortex Vortex, as well as its controls, and a window. There is another area of this room with various cages for the animal subjects.
This is a room that contains various robots and devices. In game, it is the Castle Machinery level.
Nitrus Brio's Laboratory
N. Brio's Laboratory is a small lab where N. Brio does his experiments. It also has two desks and a fenced opening.
A room where Tawna is kept, there are also two balconies and a picture of her. Most of the hall is one giant pit.
- Doctor Neo Cortex (semi-formerly)
- Doctor N. Gin (semi-formerly)
- Tiny Tiger (semi-formerly)
- Dingodile (semi-formerly)
- Nina Cortex (semi-formerly)
- Uka Uka (semi-formerly)
- Lab Assistants
- Doctor Nitrus Brio (formerly)
- Koala Kong (formerly)
- Ripper Roo (formerly)
- Pinstripe Potoroo (formerly)
- Evil Hands (formerly)
- Crash Bandicoot (formerly)
- Tawna Bandicoot (formerly)
- Crash Bandicoot
- Dr. Nitrus Brio (boss)
- Dr. Neo Cortex (boss) (background)
- Lights Out
- Fumbling in the Dark (secret level)
- Slippery Climb (exterior)
- Stormy Ascent (cut level)
- The Lab
- Castle Machinery
Crash Team Racing