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A Death Route Platform in Crash Bandicoot 2: Cortex Strikes Back

Death Routes (also known as Skull Routes) are special paths that appear in Crash Bandicoot 2: Cortex Strikes Back, Crash Bandicoot: Warped, Crash Bandicoot: The Wrath of Cortex and the N. Sane Trilogy remakes of the former two games. The death routes are alternate routes in certain levels that can only be accessed by a special lift that has a crossbones symbol on it. Crash/Coco will only be able to access the lift with the crossbones by making it through a certain portion of the level without losing a life. If they die along the way before reaching the lift, then only an outline will appear in its place.

Once Crash/Coco gains access to the lift, they will take an alternate route that is usually more difficult than the regular route. The death routes always contain a gem, and sometimes also crates that must be broken to receive the level's box gem. Some death routes contain iron checkpoint crates as the death route is not required for box completion. Death routes usually feature more dangers than found in a normal level. They often have more nitro crates and/or TNT crates than normal routes. Gem paths are similar to death routes, except they require colored gems to enter, but still use the same music as a death route.

In The Wrath of Cortex, death routes always return to outline form if Crash dies outside of the death route, even after Crash has already taken the death route platform. The death platform can also take the player back the normal route of a level, if the player so desires.

Crash Bandicoot 2: Cortex Strikes Back[]

In Crash Bandicoot 2: Cortex Strikes Back, all death routes contain a clear gem. Some also contain crates which are needed to be opened to obtain the level's box gem.  Of these, Piston It Away is the only one where Crash must finish the level on the death route, all others apart from Air Crash (which contains no regular crates) return him to further down the main path so some backtracking is required.  The exception to this is Cold Hard Crash, where Crash must backtrack down the death route in order to obtain the box gem and take the same platform to back to the main path.  To get the level's two clear gems in one run, Crash must death warp after collecting the death route gem as falling through the chamber it is positioned in will cause him to skip a huge chunk of the level with no other way of returning.

Taking the platform in Night Fight is not necessary as its death route rejoins the main path as normal and so can be accessed from there.

Death Route Level Non-Nitro Crates? Alternate Exit?
Air Crash No Yes
Road to Ruin No No
Diggin' It Yes No
Cold Hard Crash Yes No
Piston It Away Yes Yes
Night Fight Yes No


Crash Bandicoot: Warped[]

All death routes in Crash Bandicoot: Warped contain a colored gem, but not all Colored Gems are found on death routes (the Red Gem is down the alternate route in Deep Trouble and the Yellow Gem is obtained via the alternate entrance of Hang'em High) and no paths are required for the level's box gem (only Tomb Wader has breakable crates but they are all Nitros). Only the death route on Flaming Passion leads Crash back to the level's main path, although one crate is placed between the entry platform and where the exit platform returns, as well as a huge chasm with magic carpets floating around to help get across.

Death Route Level Gem Alternate Exit?
High Time Purple Yes
Tomb Wader Blue Yes
Flaming Passion Green No

Crash Bandicoot: The Wrath of Cortex[]

Death Route Wrath of Cortex

Wizards and Lizards Death Route in The Wrath of Cortex

Death routes on Crash Bandicoot: The Wrath of Cortex follow the same premise as Warped, in that they all contain a colored gem. Although unlike Warped, colored gems in The Wrath of Cortex are exclusively consigned to death routes. All death route paths lead back to the warp room as well.

Only the death route in Arctic Antics contains regular crates, but they are within close proximity to Nitro Crates and so are opened upon the activation of the Nitro Switch Crate, meaning taking the route is not required for box completion.

Death Route Level Colored Gem
Arctic Antics Blue
Wizards and Lizards Green
The Gauntlet Purple
Crash and Burn Red
Gold Rush Yellow


Crash Bandicoot N. Sane Trilogy[]

The Death Route reprises the role it had in the original second and third games. With regards to the first game, only the Colored Gems retained the "No Deaths" criteria shared by the Skull Platforms, with all Clear Gems requiring only that all the boxes be broken.

There is also a new DLC level for Warped, Future Tense, which includes a Death Route with a Clear Gem. Unlike the other Death Routes in the third game, this one does have boxes to break, and is the only death route to have a clear gem, mirroring Cortex Strikes Back. This route cannot be entered, let alone completed, without certain Super Powers.

Death Route Level Game Gem Crates? Alternate exit?
Future Tense Warped Clear Yes No




Names in other languages[]

Language Name
Japanese ドクロのあしば[1]
Dokuro no ashiba


  • In the prototype version of Cortex Strikes Back, Death Route platforms moved much faster and the player would occasionally fall through them and lose a life, if it's not on the ground.
  • The same outline is used for all ghost death route platforms in both Cortex Strikes Back and Warped, regardless of the original platform's shape.
  • In Cortex Strikes Back, Air Crash, Diggin' It, Cold Hard Crash, and Night Fight share the same platform.
  • Some death routes in Cortex Strikes Back are required for box completion, but in Warped and The Wrath of Cortex, death routes are never required for box completion.
    • Similarly, death routes in Cortex Strikes Back always contain a clear gem, whereas in Warped and The Wrath of Cortex, death routes always contain a colored gem.
  • In Warped, medieval levels are the only platform levels that didn't have death routes.
  • Before the end of the death route in Tomb Wader, the normal area music is used briefly instead of a death route due to a mistake when setting it up. The end of the death route has the intended death route music.
  • Warped has death route platforms for the prehistoric and future levels, but they went unused in the retail versions.
    • Future Frenzy in the alpha build of the game used the platform to send Crash from the alternate path to the main path, it was replaced with a plain platform in the final version.
  • A death route was originally planned for one of the motorcycle levels in Warped, but was cut from the game.
  • While death routes themselves don't appear in Crash Bandicoot 4: It's About Time, a similar function occurs with obtaining a Flashback Tape in a main level. If the player dies once, the Flashback Tape becomes transparent; making the player unable to obtain it unless the player restarts the level.