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Crash Bandicoot 2: Cortex Strikes Back is a linear platform game and the second game of the Crash Bandicoot series, being the sequel to Crash Bandicoot. It was developed by Naughty Dog for the PlayStation and was released in the United States of America on October 31st, 1997. It was also released on the PlayStation Network for download so it can be played on the PlayStation 3, PlayStation Portable and PlayStation Vita. It is the second best selling Crash game of all time, with at least 7.58 million copies sold globally.

In the game's story, Crash Bandicoot is abducted by Doctor Neo Cortex, who has apparently turned over a new leaf and is now willing to save the world. Crash is then thrust into several parts of the islands in order to gather crystals and allow Cortex to contain the power of the upcoming planetary alignment and keep the planet from being destroyed. He is joined by Coco Bandicoot, his sister, who is suspicious of Cortex's true intentions. N. Brio, who has a personal vendetta against Cortex, tries to convince Crash to gather gems instead of crystals in hope of destroying his arch-enemy Cortex and sends his own henchmen to stop the bandicoot's progress.

A complete remake of the game was released alongside the first Crash Bandicoot game and Warped as part of the Crash Bandicoot N. Sane Trilogy.


Cortex Hologram

Cortex tricking Crash (and Aku Aku) into getting Crystals

Taking place right after the events of the previous game, Cortex falls from his hoverboard and lands within a mine, where he discovers a large crystal and has a flash of inspiration. One year later, he is seen in a space station being told by his new assistant, Doctor N. Gin that to harness the Master Crystal's power he will require an additional 25 "Slave Crystals". These are scattered across the Earth. Since Cortex does not have any "friends" left on the surface, he decides he needs to "find an enemy".

Crash and his sister Coco Bandicoot are relaxing on N. Sanity Beach, when the battery runs out on Coco's laptop. She asks Crash to go find her a new one, in which he does. While he's on the way, he gets abducted by Cortex and is sent into a Warp Room where he is persuaded that Cortex has decided to turn over a new leaf and is trying to save the planet against an incoming threat. He convinces Crash to collect the crystals, so that he can use their powers of the aligned planets to prevent the Earth from facing certain doom. Crash then sets off on this new quest for Cortex, unknowingly helping him achieve his goals for world domination.

Throughout his quest, Crash is contacted by his sister Coco, who is continuously searching into Cortex's scheme and trying to figure out what Cortex is really using the crystals for. He is also contacted by Doctor Nitrus Brio, Cortex's disgruntled former assistant. He tells Crash that if he truly wants to save the world, he must collect the gems instead of the crystals. Brio plans to use the gems to destroy Cortex once and for all. He is also Crash's primary opposing force, claiming to use all of his strength to prevent him from gathering the crystals. Brio recruits Ripper Roo, who has become extremely intelligent but is still insane, to destroy Crash, but he is defeated. Brio also creates and sends out new villains, like the sword-swinging Komodo Brothers and the musclebound Tiny Tiger, but they all fail to stop Crash. Cortex later demands Crash to hand his current amount of crystals over to N. Gin, but to his dismay, he finds out that the marsupial has defeated N. Gin.


Crash with Coco and Doctor Nitrus Brio, about to destroy the Cortex Vortex

At the end, when all of the crystals are collected, Coco reveals that Cortex actually intends to harness the force of the crystals to turn every single creature on Earth into Cortex's mindless slaves with his new and improved Cortex Vortex. Crash finally defeats Cortex once again, banishing him deep into space, but leaves his space station operational. After Crash has gathered all 42 gems, N. Brio uses the gems to power up a laser beam that destroys the station, leaving it in space until it crashes into a mysterious temple on Earth.


Crash Bandicoot 2's gameplay is largely similar to that of the original. However, there are some differences. Players make their way through a limited environment whilst breaking crates, each of which containing some kind of bonus. Breaking all of a level's crates earns the player that level's clear gem. The player can also collect additional clear and colored gems by finding and touching them. Colored gems activate secret areas. If the player collects all of the gems in the game, the secret ending is activated.

Crash has several moves: jump, spin attack, body slam, slide, duck, crawl, and an extra-high jump performed by sliding or ducking and then jumping. There are also several difficult glitched moves that can be performed at any time. Stepping on a question-mark platform/trap door takes Crash to a bonus level. Going to special locations, where something is somehow out of place, brings Crash to one of five secret levels.

Also, if the player manages to reach a certain point in some levels without losing a single life, the player can hop onto a platform with a skull and crossbones logo on it. This takes Crash to another portion in the level of the main path and contains boxes and other secrets one might notice not being found on the main path. This marked the first appearance of the death route.


Beyond the new moves, Cortex Strikes Back also features slightly altered physics and animation mechanics compared to the original making controls feel more responsive. Notably, Crash immediately decelerates (running or in mid-jump) as soon as the directional buttons are released.


Button Movement
Directional buttons or Left analog stick Move
X Jump
Circle or L1 Crouch / Crawl
Square Spin*
Triangle View status bar
Directional buttons or Left analog stick + Circle Slide*
X + Circle or L1 Body Slam*
Circle or L1 + X High Jump*
Directional buttons + Circle or L1 + X Long Jump*
  • In the N. Gin boss fight, Square and Circle both shoot fruit instead, though L1 does nothing. Therefore, it is impossible to spin, crouch, crawl, slide, or body slam in this fight.

Jet Board[]

Button Movement
Directional buttons or Left analog stick Move
X Speed Boost*
  • The Speed Boost can also be performed by pressing L1, Circle, or Square.


Button Movement
Directional buttons or Left analog stick Move*
X Jump
Circle Speed Boost
Circle + X Long Jump
  • In levels with Polar, the player can only move right or left, as Polar will move forward with Crash automatically.

Hanging from Meshes[]

Button Movement
Directional buttons or Left analog stick Move
X Let go of meshes
Square Spin*
Circle or L1 Legs Up*
  • These powers make Crash completely still.

Jet Pack[]

Button Movement
Directional buttons or Left analog stick Move*
X or L1 Move forward
Circle or L1 Move backward
Square Spin
  • If the player presses the top directional button, it makes Crash move down, and if the player presses the bottom directional button, it makes Crash move up. So the controls are practically inverted. In the NTSC-US version, there is an option in the pause menu of both jet pack levels and the Cortex boss fight, to switch to "direct" movement where up goes up and down goes down.


Button Movement
Square Dive under (only when Crash is on burgundy colored ground)
Square while underground Spin objects
Directional buttons or Left analog stick Move
X Jump out


Button Movement
Directional buttons or Left analog stick (if the player is on a select screen) Select
X (if the player is on a select screen) Confirm
Triangle Show the Status Bar.
Start Resume / Pause Game

Warp Room & Levels[]

Cortex Strikes Back has a Warp Room system. Unlike the previous game, where levels are played in a specific order, the Warp Room allows the player to play one of the five levels present in the room in any order. To complete a level, the player has to fetch the crystal and reach the end of the level. When all 5 crystals have been collected, the player can fight the boss in that Warp Room. There are five main Warp Rooms, twenty-five main levels, five boss arenas, a sixth secret Warp Room with three secret entrances and two extra levels. Boss fights are in bold.

Warp Room
None Intro N/A
1. Jungle 1. Turtle Woods Power crystal Clear gemBlue gem 62
2. Snow Go Power crystal Clear gemRed gem 74
3. Hang Eight Power crystal Clear gemClear gem
4. The Pits Power crystal Clear gem 53
5. Crash Dash Power crystal Clear gem 44
Boss 1:
Ripper roo mug
2. Arctic 6. Snow Biz Power crystal Clear gem 124
7. Air Crash Power crystal Clear gemClear gem 102
8. Bear It Power crystal Clear gem 48
9. Crash Crush Power crystal Clear gem 57
10. The Eel Deal Power crystal Clear gemGreen gem 79
Boss 2:
Komodo Brothers Icon
3. Sewer 11. Plant Food Power crystal Clear gemYellow gem 53
12. Sewer or Later Power crystal Clear gemClear gem 57
13. Bear Down Power crystal Clear gem 42
14. Road to Ruin Power crystal Clear gemClear gem 89
15. Un-Bearable Power crystal Clear gem 58
Boss 3:
Cortex Strikes Back TIny mug
4. Mines 16. Hangin' Out Power crystal Clear gem 93
17. Diggin' It Power crystal Clear gemClear gem 95
18. Cold Hard Crash Power crystal Clear gemClear gem 155
19. Ruination Power crystal Clear gemClear gem 84
20. Bee-Having Power crystal Clear gemPurple gem 92
Boss 4:
N gin s mugshot by sperhak618-d5u0ejr
5. Space/Cortex Vortex 21. Piston It Away Power crystal Clear gem Clear gem 69
22. Rock It Power crystal Clear gem 39
23. Night Fight Power crystal Clear gemClear gem 46
24. Pack Attack Power crystal Clear gem
25. Spaced Out Power crystal Clear gemClear gem 60
Boss 5:
Crash Bandicoot 2 Cortex Strikes Back Doctor Neo Cortex Icon
Island/Top of Cortex Castle (Secret) 7. Air Crash (secret entrance) N/A 102
2. Snow Go (secret entrance) N/A 74
14. Road to Ruin (secret entrance) N/A 89
26. Totally Bear Clear gem 40
27. Totally Fly Clear gem 44




Supporting Cast[]

Level Themes[]

Level Theme
Intro (optional level)
Turtle Woods
The Pits
Jungle (day time/sunset)
Snow Go
Snow Biz
Cold Hard Crash
Hang Eight
Air Crash
Plant Food
Crash Dash
Crash Crush
Bear It
Bear Down
Un-Bearable (features Polar in the last chase sequence)
Totally Bear
The Eel Deal
Sewer or Later
Hangin' Out
Road to Ruin
Diggin' It
Piston It Away
Spaced Out
Rock It
Pack Attack
Jet Pack
Night Fight
Totally Fly (secret level 2 of 2)
Jungle (night time)

Boss fights[]

There are 5 boss levels. They all take place in different regions.

Boss fight Theme
Ripper Roo Waterfall
Komodo Brothers Circus tent
Tiny Tiger
N. Gin
Neo Cortex

Easter Eggs[]

  • In Warp Room 2, if Crash jumps on Polar enough times, he will get 10 lives. This is required for 100% completion in the Japanese version.


Production started on the second game in October 1996, over the course of 13 months with a budget of $2,000,000.

Naughty Dog head Andy Gavin created a new engine for this game, which was three times faster than the previous game and could handle up to ten times the animation. This resulted in Crash's model having significantly improved graphics and animation. It comprised of 574 polygons and over 9000 frames of animation, thought to be more than any other game character at the time. Since this engine was much faster, the act of filling the disc with random code to push the game files to the outer areas of the disc (a technique used to make the original Crash Bandicoot run faster) was no longer needed, making the game's file size much smaller.


Crash Bandicoot 2: Cortex Strikes Back received generally positive reviews from critics and was considered to be superior to its predecessor. Much of the praise went to the game's graphics, control and music, with major criticisms varying between the trial-and-error gameplay, lack of level variety, easy boss levels and lack of innovation. The game went on to become one of the best-selling PlayStation video games of all time and replaced its predecessor as the highest-selling Western title in Japan, selling more than 800,000 units in the country by April 1998.

John Broady of GameSpot considered the game to be superior to its predecessor, commenting positively on the Warp Room concept, improved game-saving system and variety of the levels. The staff of IGN praised the "spot on" control and noted the decreased linearity of the game and increased intuition of the bonus levels compared to the first game. Mark Cooke of Game Revolution described the game as "undeniably fun".

The game's graphics were positively received. GameSpot's Broady described them as "in a league of their own among PlayStation games", while the IGN staff praised the high-resolution graphics as "beautiful". Game Revolution's Mark Cooke, meanwhile, went into more detail and started off by describing the graphics as "awesome". He noted the absence of cutscenes brought about by the entirety of the game being "rendered on the fly beautifully" and that the game could "really set some new standards in Playstation graphic quality." He went on to describe the animation as "flawless" and of "cartoon quality" and added that the game's "creatures, environments, and story building scenes are absolutely perfect." The game's audio was also well-received; Broady simply stated that the music "couldn't be better", while Cooke said that Clancy Brown's "hilarious satirical" performance as Doctor Neo Cortex added to the game's cartoonish quality.

Minor criticisms varied among critics. Broady noted that the semi-3D setup is "sometimes hard to navigate" and elaborated that "you'll find yourself missing jumps because you're unable to judge distances properly." Additionally, he criticized the trial-and-error aspect of the gameplay as "just plain cheap" and stated that "in some areas you must sacrifice many lives until you memorize a level's layout." The IGN staff said that the level design "isn't as varied as it could be" and added that the "jungle, snow and water" environments are recycled from the previous game and reused multiple times in Cortex Strikes Back. They also described the boss levels as "insultingly easy". Cooke observed that, like its predecessor, the game did not add anything to the genre and summarized that "the first Crash was dauntingly similar to the 16-bit platform games of yester-yore, only with better graphics, and Crash 2 doesn't deviate much from this formula." He also described the "bizarre 3D" cover art of the game as "unnecessary and evil" and "a device of unprecedented agony" and claimed to have contracted a massive headache after "looking at it in [his] car for about 15 seconds."

The game's success resulted in its re-release for the Sony Greatest Hits line-up on August 30, 1998 and for the Platinum Range on 1999. Crash Bandicoot 2: Cortex Strikes Back was initially released on the European PlayStation Network on July 26, 2007 but was withdrawn on August 7, 2007, along with Spyro 2: Ripto's Rage! and MediEvil, as a precautionary measure when the two other games experienced technical problems. The game was released on the North American PlayStation Network on January 10, 2008 and re-released on the European PlayStation Network on February 2, 2011.



See: Crash Bandicoot 2: Cortex Strikes Back/Gallery

Names in Other Languages[]

While the logo and official title of the game remains unchanged in Europe, translated names can be heard on the title screen of the PAL version if the respective language is selected.

Language Name
French Crash Bandicoot 2 : Cortex contre-attaque
German Crash Bandicoot 2: Cortex schlägt zurück
Italian Crash Bandicoot 2: Il ritorno di Cortex
Japanese クラッシュ・バンディクー2 コルテックスの逆襲!
Kurasshu Bandikū 2 Korutekkusu no Gyakushuu!
Spanish Crash Bandicoot 2: Cortex ataca de nuevo

This game was developed in English and was officially localized into French, German, Italian, Japanese, and Spanish.

Voice cast[]

Language Voice actor Character
English Brendan O'Brien[a][b] Crash Bandicoot
N. Brio
N. Gin
Clancy Brown[a] Neo Cortex
Vicki Winters[a] Coco Bandicoot
Andrew Dawson[1] Aku Aku
Dallas McKennon[c] Ripper Roo
Italian Angelo Cola[2] Neo Cortex
Benedetta Ferraro[2] Coco Bandicoot
Andrea Piovan[2] N. Brio
N. Gin
Japanese Kappei Yamaguchi[d] Crash Bandicoot
Shōzō Iizuka[d] Neo Cortex
Haruna Ikezawa[d] Coco Bandicoot
Kenichi Ogata[d] Aku Aku
Mitsuru Ogata[d] N. Brio
Kazuhiro Nakata[d] N. Gin


  • The image in the original European disc of the game has Crash tied on a rocket, reusing artwork from the launch poster for the first Crash Bandicoot game.
  • This game marked the first appearances of Coco, Polar, the Komodo Brothers, Tiny Tiger, and N. Gin.
  • This is the first game where Clancy Brown voices Neo Cortex.
  • The Secret Warp Room is located in the ruins of Cortex Castle from Crash Bandicoot, which was destroyed while battling Cortex. N. Brio also uses this location to fire his cannon to destroy the Cortex Vortex.
    • In N. Sane Trilogy, the secret warp room becomes a sixth main warp room instead of being separate from the others.
  • The first two islands from Crash Bandicoot can be seen from the secret (sixth) warp room. These were removed in the N. Sane Trilogy.
  • Each Warp Room is based on different level themes: 1st Warp Room is based on the jungle-themed levels, 2nd Warp Room is based on the snow-themed levels, 3rd Warp Room is based the sewer-themed levels, 4th Warp Room is based on the mountain levels, 5th Warp Room is based on the space themed levels and the Secret Warp Room is based on the ruin themed levels.
  • Coco and N. Brio have their own themes which play during their holograms. Brio's is a remix of his bonus/boss music from Crash Bandicoot, whilst Coco's is a new composition.
  • During the intro cutscene in Crash Bandicoot: Warped, Crash's surfboard that he uses in this game can be seen hanging on the wall in the Bandicoot house.
  • On the bookshelves in Ripper Roo's boss fight are thick manuals for Crash Bandicoot.
  • The Warp Rooms are internally known as obj_monty_hall in the game's code, likely an in-joke after the television host.
  • This is the first game to implement the Dynamic Difficulty Adjustment which awards Crash an Aku Aku mask or changes a ? crate into a checkpoint crate when he dies repeatedly on a certain section of a level.
  • When Crash gets burnt in this game, he briefly reuses his Crash Bandicoot model during the death animation, likely due to the animation being recycled. This also happens in Crash Bandicoot: Warped.
  • If the player leaves Crash idle long enough, he will do his standing animation from the first game.
  • The player can annoy Cortex and eventually make him very mad by going into any level at the start of the game without getting any crystal. The first two times Crash returns to the warp room, Cortex will chide him and the third time, Cortex will re-explain how to get crystals and how to advance. Cortex will also show what a crystal looks like, when Cortex explains he will speak in an annoyed tone. Further failures to collect the crystal don't do anything.
    • In N. Sane Trilogy, the trophy "Cortex N. Furiated" will be awarded to the player by doing this.
  • The game has 1,889 crates in total (including the 10 crates from the intro level).
  • Instead of choosing the "Warp Room" option on the pause screen, the player can alternately exit a level by pressing Start, to pause the game, and then Select on the pause screen. These controls are left over from Crash Bandicoot and also works in Crash Bandicoot: Warped.
  • The PAL version of the game has significantly higher pitched sound effects, such as TNT's & "Woah".
  • According to Jason Rubin, in the Japanese version of the game, a death animation of Crash being crushed and left with his head and feet was replaced. This was because the animation reminded Sony of a serial killer on the loose in Japan who decapitated his victims and left their head with their shoes.
  • The Japanese version of the game features Aku Aku giving out hints to the player. Unlike the previous game, these hints are voiced rather than written. This makes this game his first speaking appearance, and not actually Crash Bandicoot: Warped.
  • The Japanese version has a method of calculating percentage different from the English version.
    • The English version has 2% for each crystal, 1% for each gem, 1% for each secret warp found and 3% for defeating Dr. Cortex.
    • The Japanese version has 1% for each crystal, 1% for each clear gem, 2% for each colored gem, 1% for each secret warp found, 4% for defeating each boss except Dr. Cortex, 6% for defeating Dr. Cortex, and 1% for getting the 10 lives from Polar.
  • There was a manga series made in 1998. It was entitled Dansu! De Jump! Na Daibouken (Dance! Then Jump! It's a Great Adventure!) and it was written and drawn by Ari Kawashima, published by Coro Coro Comics and released only in Japan. The story is loosely based on Crash Bandicoot 2: Cortex Strikes Back.
    • The series lasted 2 volumes. A third volume was in development but it was cancelled for unknown reasons. This made the series end on a cliffhanger with Crash and Cortex stuck in space after finding out the locations of the crystals.
    • There are several differences between the manga and game series which include: Crash speaks throughout the whole story, there is some mild swearing, Wumpa Fruit and Crystals are referred to as apples and Power Stones and many of the jokes and gags are based around the Japanese culture.
  • The 100% ending of the game has 38 clear gems instead of the 37.
  • There is a PlayStation game called Dragonseeds where you can train dragons and teach them to fight. By having certain save data on the second Memory Card, you can unlock special dragons. Appropriately enough, having Crash Bandicoot 2 save data unlocks a dragon named "Aussie".
  • The PAL version of Crash Bandicoot 2 runs at a slightly slower framerate, and Crash had been made to move slightly faster to make up for it. The enemies, however, keep their original speed, meaning that enemies such as the electric Lab Assistants throughout the jetpack stages can be flown through after one hit since their reaction time is slightly slower, the fire ball behind them doesn't affect Crash and too is bypassable. They will simply electrocute Crash in the NTSC version.
  • The PAL version has made the collision for Crash's belly flop attack significantly larger.
  • Various PAL boxes of the game show an early screenshot of Snow Go on its back cover. This is extended even further by having certain PAL releases not only re-use the screenshot, but mirror it as well.
  • Crash Bandicoot 2: Cortex Strikes Back is the first game in the series to have been localized in Spanish, French, German and Italian.
  • In the European translations of the game, Cortex refers to the Komodo Brothers by their early name, Kimodo Brothers, in the hologram cutscene that follows their defeat.


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 Listed in the in-game credits of the NTSC-U and PAL versions of the game.
  2. Crash's voicelines recycled from Crash Bandicoot.
  3. Stock sound effect originating from Disney's Lady and the Tramp.
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 4.4 4.5 Listed in the in-game credits of the NTSC-J version of the game.


  1. "Everybody seems to love the Aku Aku [sound]. It was actually one of the guys that I work with. He had a deeper voice than me so he did that one. It was Andy Dawson." - Mike Gollom, Crash Bandicoot sound designer. Uploaded April 20th, 2020.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2