Crunch Time (たいけつ！ ネオ・コルテックス lit. Showdown! Neo Cortex in Japanese) is the final boss level in Crash Bandicoot: The Wrath of Cortex. After sealing away all 4 Elementals, even though they combine forces here to try to destroy Crash, and collecting the final 5 of the Crystals that lurk within the space hub of Coco's VR Hub System, Crash can foil the plans of Dr. Neo Cortex, who is teamed up with Crunch Bandicoot and the 4 Elementals. The arena seems to take place in a spaceship that is round in appearance.
There are 4 ways that Crunch can attack and the colored circled lights tells which kind of Elemental Crunch will call upon after stomping on the button corresponding to the light (yellow means Rok-Ko, indigo means Wa-Wa, red means Py-Ro, and violet means Lo-Lo). After defeating Crunch (and Cortex at the same time), Dr. Cortex is held in midair by Uka-Uka while spinning around and Crunch stands idle.
Crash (this power-up applies to Coco, too) is then given the ability to run faster than he originally could and is rewarded with either the Normal or Good Ending, but the ending cutscene depends on whether or not Crash has managed to collect all of the Gems. However, in order to collect all of the gems, Crash must collect 25 of the 30 Relics to unlock the levels in the secret hub and win this battle to unlock the hub itself.
For the start of the battle, Crunch is seen facing Crash's direction and Crunch immediately jumps behind Dr. Cortex and then hits the button that is the farthest to the left-handed side that calls Rok-Ko so that he can try to burn Crash with falling rocks that are hot and will burn Crash to ash if he's not careful. After the attack dies down, Crunch can now be attacked with the help of the Fruit Bazooka. After being hit with a Wumpa Fruit, Crunch will then punch Cortex in the face knocking him down, allowing Crash to spin onto Cortex and thus, damaging him.
This time, Crunch now adds Wa-Wa to his attack pattern after hitting the button next to Rok-Ko's, and Wa-Wa will use frozen boulders to try to turn Crash into a icicle if they should hit him (however, Crash is immobile for a few seconds, and the real danger is that Crash is vulnerable to attack) and then Crunch will call on Rok-Ko again. After dodging the onslaught, Crash shoots Crunch again, who in turn punches Cortex in the face, allowing Crash to again spin onto Cortex.
Now, Crunch turns up the heat as he calls upon Py-Ro's help. Py-Ro's method of attacking is setting the floor on fire, but it may scorch Crash if he fails to move quickly after the steam dissipates, which is the warning sign of where Py-Ro will ignite the floor. After this, Crunch will call upon Rok-Ko, Wa-Wa, and finally Py-Ro again. The attack process is a rinse, lather, and repeat from the last two phases.
This is where Lo-Lo will summon electric lines that will try to electrocute Crash and then Crunch begins his new attack pattern: Rok-Ko, Py-Ro, Lo-Lo, Wa-Wa, Rok-Ko, Py-Ro, and Lo-Lo. After this, Crunch will punch down Cortex once again, and Crash will win (for the first time Crash clears this stage) the Crash Dash (Speed Shoes, as they are named in this game.) and either the Normal or Good Endings.
Crash can view this ending before he collects the gems from all the levels (but Crash has yet to unlock the secret hub, therefore this ending is unavoidable). Cortex is seen mourning his loss and asking why is it that Crash will never let Cortex win as well as what does Crash want from him by calling him cretin.
However, Uka Uka informs Cortex that there is still hope: just because Crash has used up the Power Crystals in order to put the masks into hibernation again, Crash has failed to find all the Gems, and as a result, they can awaken the Elementals one final time. So now, the new objective is to chase after the gems before Crash can get his orange mitts on them.
Crash gets this ending instead after collecting all of the gems. The beginning is the same from the Normal Ending but, because this time there is no way to awaken the Elementals again, Uka-Uka places blame on Cortex for this failed scheme and tries to kill Cortex by firing a ball of light at him, who in turn dodged the attack and hit one of the critical components of the ship, causing a terminal malfunction.
Crunch wakes up from the assault that he had received earlier, but Cortex's influence on him is gone. Crunch is apparently ready to have at Cortex for what happened before the game, but Aku Aku says there is no time to worry about that and they must leave the ship now. Luckily for the trio, Coco shows up on her rocket to pick everyone up, but Cortex and Uka Uka are not so lucky; they are flung down to an icy place where Uka Uka who calls Cortex idiot, fool and nincompoop, then pursues Cortex again and again, while Cortex vows to destroy Crash someday.
- Because the Fruit Bazooka is the only way of getting Crunch to box Dr. Cortex down allowing Crash to harm Cortex, this makes the ability the only one in The Wrath of Cortex that is mandatory for a boss battle.
- However, it is also an obligation to get the power-up as proof that Crash cleared the battle that he won the power up.
- It seems Rok-Ko has temporary control over fire because the rocks he uses to attack Crash with are hot and have a flaming tail.
- This is also the first time that Wa-Wa's dominion over ice is demonstrated as he uses boulders that are frozen solid to attack Crash.
- Also, Lo-Lo's control over electricity is seen in this battle and directly at that.
- Cortex's health bar is not seen in the PS2 version of the battle for some unknown reason.
- The PS2 version also features a unique lighting effect, with the area changing colour according to each elemental attack.
- Earlier plans for the game involved a different setup for the boss and ending, which involved Crash battling Crunch in a mechanical robot suit. At the end of the fight, Crunch would destroy Crash's suit with a bolt of electricity. The resulting debris would render Cortex unconscious, destroy the remote control device controlling Crunch and start an electrical fire in the space station. A later storyboard had Cortex stamp on the remote in a rage after it fails to awaken Crunch, provoking Uka's failed punishment. While neither of these were used in the final game, the ending cutscene has Crunch inexplicably beside Crash unconscious and free from mind control much as he was meant to be after the original showdown.