Piston It Away (ピストン はつでんしょ lit. Piston Power Plant in Japanese) is the twenty-first level in the game and the first level of the fifth warp room in Crash Bandicoot 2: Cortex Strikes Back and the Crash Bandicoot N. Sane Trilogy remaster of the second game. Set in Dr. Cortex's space station, Crash is required to avoid giant pistons, shrink rays and sparky tentaclebot units in order to survive.
Obtaining the clear gem for breaking all 69 crates is considered by many to be one of the most difficult tasks in the game, because backtracking is necessary. This level contains a death route, but if the player takes it and finishes it right when they first encounter it, they will miss out on a number of crates past it on the main path. Instead, they are expected to take the main path to the end first - leaving one sparky tentaclebot alive and then they can be able to successfully backtrack all the way through the level to the death route. However, leaving the sparky tentaclebot is not necessary, as it's possible to jump out of the map and back again and thereby avoiding the trouble of saving the tentaclebot (This doesn't work in the N. Sane Trilogy version). From here, all that separates the player from his rewards - the death route gem and, if he does not mess anything up, the crate gem - is a series of tricky platforming challenges involving awkwardly placed pistons, awkwardly placed shrink rays, and conveniently placed floating sparky tentaclebot units.
In the N. Sane Trilogy, an easer way to obtain the crate gem is as follows: Make it to the death route breaking all the crates on the way there, then take the death route platorm—immediately die in the death route. This will cause the platform to remain usable for the duration of the level—and the player will respawn at the Checkpoint Crate near the platform. The player can then continue along the normal path to the end of the level and then double back to the death route. For a checkpoint on the way back, save the Bonus Round for the return trip.
Enemies and Obstacles
|Enemy/Obstacle Picture||Enemy/Obstacle Description|
|*Robot Walker- These enemies will walk back and forth along the path, blocking Crash's way. They can only be defeated by sliding them. It is the first type of enemy encountered in the level.|
|*Giant Pistons-They are obstacles that retract up and down in the middle of Crash's path. They are similar to the log crushers in the snow-themed levels, in which Crash will have to move forward past them while they are up to avoid being smashed by them. For some other pistons, which retract the opposite way, Crash will have to stand on the piston face and wait for it to push up. They are the first obstacle encountered in the level.|
|*Sparky Tentaclebot Units- They are enemies that stand or patrol in Crash's path with their arms either up or down. They can be jumped on when the arms are down or can be slid through when they are up. In the death route, there are a couple of them that float in midair and raise their arms up and down.|
|*Shrink Rays- These are obstacles that shoot projectiles that will shrink Crash upon hitting him. They are activated when Crash steps on one of the arrow pads. He must try to dodge the projectiles or spin them away if he does step on the pad. When he is hit, Crash will slowly shrink and eventually lose a life.|
|*Barricading Lab Assistant- These lab assistants carry a tall shield and try to push Crash with it. They can be defeated by spinning or sliding them back until they fall or crash into a nitro crate. If Crash does not time it properly, he will be pushed back, likely into a pit.|
Translation of Aku Aku Hints in the Japanese Version
- Enemies that can only be defeated by sliding seem to exist here. Hmm.
- So, in Hanging in the Underpass, after you enter the wide water, try to go backwards?
- The flowers that spit exploding seeds can be defeated by body press. in Warning: Explosive Pollen, try this until the end, eh?
- There are no multi-numbered wumpa fruit crates. All such boxes in this level only have one wumpa fruit.
- This level, Air Crash and Spaced Out are the only levels in this game with an alternate route that leads to an exit back to the main warp room.
- Unlike the other two levels, the second exit needs to be taken to fully complete this level due to crates, including a Checkpoint, being on the Death Route, or else you could death warp back to the main path and finish it there.
- The general scenery of this level (and its successor, Spaced Out) is very similar to the scenery in Heavy Machinery and Castle Machinery in the first game.
- In the beta version, it's impossible to get the two gems of the level except with cheats as a coding error causes the game to freeze right before the death route gem.
- "Dynamo" was one of the earliest names given to this level.
- This level's title is a play on the phrase "Pissing It Away" in reference to the sheer amount of lives that the average player will lose (in essence, "piss away") on this level.
- If Crash gets hit by the shrink ray without an Aku-Aku mask, he will shrink before actually dying, and can even die a second time if he gets hit by an enemy (but only one life is lost). If he enters the bonus round while shrinking, he'll be counted as dying in the bonus round and won't lose a life.
- It seems that the shrink ray must be dodged, but in fact it can be spun away.
- Interestingly, even this level's Bonus Round embodies this spirit of backtracking, requiring the player to leave enough boxes intact to allow them to backtrack after activating a ! crate.
- This property is shared by the level The Pits, where both the level and the bonus round require backtracking to get the Box Gem.
- This level has the most crates in its warp room, despite having far fewer crates than any of the levels in the previous warp room.