Crash Bandicoot 2 Cortex Strikes Back Review

Posted: June 6, 2015 in Game reviews
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Greetings mortals, I am DracoJames102 and I am here to give you a review.

Crash 2 Title Card

Crash Bandicoot was one of the Playstation’s biggest hits so naturally a sequel had to be made. Crash Bandicoot 2 was released in 1997, one year after the first game. Now when I looked at the first game, I stated that it was still good but it wasn’t the best way to get into the Crash Bandicoot franchise. Does this game make the necessary improvements that the first game needed?

crash 2 cover


Straight after Cortex was defeated in the first game (which made the first game’s good ending truly worthless), Cortex lands in a cave where he finds a strange crystal. One year later, he and his new assistant Doctor N.Gin created a new space station with a powerful weapon called the Cortex Vortex. However in order to fully power it, they need to not only have the Master Crystal that they have, but also the 25 slave crystals. Since Cortex has no operatives left on Earth, he decides to turn to Crash Bandicoot by disguising his true intentions by saying he needs the crystals to stop a global castastrophe.

crash 2 story

Ok, Crash isn’t exactly the brightest bulb on the Christmas tree, but is he really going to trust Cortex after what he tried to do in the last game. We all know Cortex’s true intentions anyway and Coco (Crash’s new little sister) often tries to warn Crash about Cortex but it comes off as redundant for the player. The story is pretty simple and small anyway so it’s forgivable and we do get some funny lines from Cortex and N.Brio.


The control is pretty much the same as the first game only there are a few new tricks you can do. The D-Pad is used to move Crash (though later versions have analog stick movement), the X button lets you jump, the square button lets you spin, the triangle button brings up the HUD and the circle button allows you to not only crouch, but pressing the X button while crouching allows you to super jump. You can also press the circle button while running to slide and pressing the X button while sliding allows you to jump higher and further which is one of the best manovres introduced in the series. Your HUD contains the amount of wumpa fruit you collected, your life count and the amount of boxes you broke in the level which was first introduced in this game.

crash 2 gameplay

The goal of the game is to defeat the level, just like the last game, but now you have to collect the crystals in order to proceed. The levels are broken up into tiers and each tier has five levels each. The tier rooms also allow you to save the game by walking up to a blank wall and that’s it. No need to complete bonus levels or type in passwords like in the last game. In order to move on to the next tier, you have to collect the crystals in each level. The box gems from the first game are back too but collecting them is nowhere near as painful as last time. The checkpoints actually save your box count this time around, the HUD tells you how many boxes you broke and you get a total of how many boxes there are in the level. Once again collecting them is the game’s biggest challenge and you do get a better ending this time around.

crash 2 tier room

Aside from the box gems, there are secret gems to collect too. Most of them can be collected via the coloured gem platforms or the skull platforms. The coloured gem platforms are only accessible if you have collected the corresponding coloured gem. The skull platform can only be ridden if you made it through without dying throughout the level. Either way, you will go through deadlier platforming challenges to get an extra gem and some of these will contain boxes to break in order to get the box gem. However some gems can require a guide in order to get them for the first time. For example, the blue gem you can acquire in Turtle Woods requires you to go through the entire level without breaking one single box. Nothing in the game really tells you about that as well as certain points in certain levels which give you access to secret levels in order to get 100% completion.

crash 2 colour gem

Like the first game, you do have to backtrack in order to get the gems…and it can be just as painful as the first game. There will be times where you have to go against the camera angle to go along branching pathways to break boxes you will most likely miss which will lead to unfair deaths such as bottomless pits you will most likely not see coming. The worst offender of this structure is without a doubt the level Cold Hard Crash. This level has a box hidden at the top off screen, you have to go along the death route in order to get the gem and you have to go all the way back to the platform in order to break the boxes in the rest of the level. This makes Cold Hard Crash without a doubt the worst level in the classic Crash Bandicoot trilogy.

crash 2 cold hard crash

The boss fights are better than the first game in terms of theme and set pieces, but they are still pretty damn easy. The only exception is the final boss where you have to chase him down with painfully awkward rocket pack controls.

crash 2 boss fight


The graphics are a massive improvement over the first game. The textures, structures and colours are wonderful for Playstation standards and the characters are very well animated.


Whilst the soundtrack in the first game was catchy but not that memorable, this game’s soundtrack manages to be both. My personal favourite tracks are the up the river level theme and the sewer level themes. Doctor Cortex is now voiced by famous voice actor Clancey Brown who you may know as Lex Luther from Superman The Animated Series, Mr. Krabs from SpongeBob SquarePants and Sylus from Transformers Prime and he does a great job at playing the funny but intimidating mad scientist.


Crash’s control mechanics have been tweaked in all the right places. Crash doesn’t have that small traction and he doesn’t feel as heavy when he falls from a jump. The ice physics are painful to deal with though and I’m not a fan of the inverted rocket controls.

Final thoughts

Crash Bandicoot 2 Cortex Strikes Back not only manages to fix almost all of the problems that the first game had but it still manages to hold up as a really fun game to play in general. True collecting all the gems can be tough to deal with but it’s still better than the first game and it’s only if you care about going for 100% to begin with. If you ever come across this game, I highly recommend it. This is one sequel that has definitely aged well.

Final rating: 8/10

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