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Piston It Away 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 remake 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.

Backtracking is necessary to break all 69 crates and obtain the level's clear gem. 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 must take the main path to the end first - leaving one tentaclebot alive to jump on later - and then they can 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 the gems is a series of tricky platforming challenges involving pistons, shrink rays, and floating tentaclebots. Precise timing is key.

In the N. Sane Trilogy, an easier 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 platform. Immediately die in the death route. This will cause the platform to remain usable for the duration of the level, and Crash 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
Four legged robot
*Robot Walkers- 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.

Piston with a tentaclebot to the right of it

*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 Unit with arms down

*Tentacle robots- 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.

One standing in front of Crash

*Pusher 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[]

Names in other languages[]

Language Name
Japanese ピストン はつでんしょ
Pisuton hatsu den sho


  • Because of the crates on the Death Route, this is the only level in Cortex Strikes Back to contain two Box Counters. The only other level in the original trilogy with this trait is Deep Trouble in Crash Bandicoot: Warped.
  • The level type is called "dynamo".
  • This level's title is a play on the phrase "pissing it away".