Crash Bandicoot 2: Cortex Strikes Back
|Crash Bandicoot 2: Cortex Strikes Back|
North American cover art
|Publisher(s)||Sony Computer Entertainment|
|Distributor(s)||Universal Interactive Studios|
|Engine||Game Oriented Object LISP 2|
Crash Bandicoot 2: Cortex Strikes Back is a platform video game originally published by Sony Computer Entertainment, produced by Universal Interactive Studios (later Activision Blizzard) and developed by Naughty Dog for the PlayStation. Originally released for the PlayStation in 1997, it was re-released for the Sony Greatest Hits and Best for Family line-ups in 1998, for the Platinum Range in 1999 and for the PSone Books line-up in 2001. The game has since been available to download from the PlayStation Network.
Taking place on a fictional group of islands near Australia, Crash Bandicoot 2 follows the adventures of the anthropomorphic bandicoot Crash. Crash is abducted by series villain Doctor Neo Cortex, who has seemingly turned over a new leaf and now wants to save the world. Crash is then thrust into several parts of N. Sanity Island in order to gather Crystals and allow Cortex to contain the power of the upcoming planetary alignment and keep the planet from being destroyed. Crash is joined by his sister Coco, who is suspicious of Cortex's true intentions, and partially by Doctor Nitrus Brio, who tries to persuade Crash to gather Gems instead of Crystals.
Crash Bandicoot 2: Cortex Strikes Back received generally positive reviews from critics and was considered to be superior to its predecessor. Much of the praise went to the game's graphics, control and music, with major criticisms varying between the trial-and-error gameplay, lack of level variety, easy boss levels and lack of innovation. The game went on to become one of the best-selling PlayStation video games of all time and replaced its predecessor as the highest-selling Western title in Japan, selling more than 800,000 units in the country by April 1998.
Crash Bandicoot 2: Cortex Strikes Back is a platform game in which the player character is the titular Crash Bandicoot. The goal of the game is to gather 25 crystals for Crash's nemesis Doctor Neo Cortex. The game takes place in a series of "Warp Rooms", which act as the hub areas of the game. Each Warp Room contains five doors leading to a level. The goal of each level is to obtain the crystal placed somewhere along the path. A level is cleared by collecting the crystal and reaching the end of the path, which returns Crash to the Warp Room. The retrieved crystal will then appear in the slot above the level's doorway in the Warp Room. When all five crystals in a Warp Room are obtained, the player must ride the platform in the center of the room to move to the next Warp Room. When riding the platform, the player must fight and defeat a boss character before gaining access to a new Warp Room. The player is given a certain amount of lives, which are lost when Crash is attacked by an enemy or falls into water or a pit. If all lives are lost at any point in the game, the "Game Over" screen will appear, in which the player can continue from the last level played by selecting "Yes".
Crash has the ability to jump into the air and land on an enemy character, spin in a tornado-like fashion to knock enemies off-screen, slide across the ground, and perform a body slam to break certain objects. Crash can jump higher than he normally can if he jumps immediately following a slide. All of these techniques can be used as offensive measures against most enemies, which serve to deter Crash's progress. Enemies with deadly topsides cannot be jumped on, while enemies that attack from the front or have side spikes must be jumped on or undergo a body slam. Enemies with sharp necklines (such as frill-necked lizards or long-legged robots with heated circumferences) can only be defeated if Crash slides into them.
Boxes play a prominent role in Crash Bandicoot 2: Cortex Strikes Back and can be broken with all of Crash's techniques. Most boxes in the game contain "Wumpa Fruit", which give the player an extra life if 100 of them are collected. Some boxes contain a Witch Doctor's Mask, which shields Crash from one enemy's attack while it is in his possession. If three of these masks are collected in a row, Crash is given temporary invulnerability from all minor dangers. If jumped upon, boxes with arrows pointing up propel Crash further into the air than he can ordinarily reach, and such boxes can be broken only with Crash's spin attack. Boxes with an exclamation mark (!) on them cause previously intangible objects in the area to solidify. TNT Boxes explode after a three-second fuse when jumped on, while Nitro Boxes explode upon any physical contact. All of the Nitro Boxes in a level can be detonated at once if a green-colored box with an exclamation mark (!) on it is touched. Check Point boxes allow Crash to return to the point where the first Check Point box has been opened upon losing a life. If more than one Check Point box has been opened in a stage, Crash returns to the last Check Point box that has been opened.
"Bonus Paths", signified by platforms with a question mark (?) on them, lead Crash to a secret region of the level. In these areas, numerous Wumpa Fruit and extra lives can be earned if the player successfully navigates to the end of the path. If Crash falls off-screen or is otherwise killed off, the player is unable to keep whatever was collected in the Bonus Path and is returned to the level from which the Bonus Path was accessed.
Following from where Crash Bandicoot left off, Crash defeats Doctor Neo Cortex and escapes Cortex's lair via airship with his girlfriend, Tawna, whom Crash rescued from Cortex's clutches in the previous game. Cortex is then sent hurtling towards the Earth, his maniacal bid for world domination thwarted. After his crash, Cortex awakens in a dark cavern filled with glowing crystals. Convinced that they hold tremendous power, Cortex takes one of the crystals and returns to his laboratory to examine it. He discovers that the planets will soon align, creating a catastrophic solar flux that threatens to destroy the Earth. Learning that the crystals are the only means of containing this force, Cortex enlists the aid of his old colleague Doctor N. Gin and they design a new, crystal-powered "Cortex Vortex" (a machine that Cortex used to control his minions in the previous game) that will capture the stellar energy. Because 25 more crystals are needed to provide the necessary power matrix, Cortex devises a plot to manipulate Crash Bandicoot into retrieving the crystals for him.
One year following Cortex's assumed defeat, Crash is now living with his sister Coco on N. Sanity Island, one of the islands owned by Cortex in the previous game. In the jungles of the island, Crash sleeps as Coco attempts to finish a new program before her laptop dies. When the laptop does die, she orders Crash to get her a new laptop battery. On his way home, Crash is abducted by a bright light and finds himself in an ancient Warp Room, where a holographic projection of Cortex instructs him to bring him the crystals by traveling through the Warp Room's doors. After Crash collects the first crystal, Cortex informs Crash of the upcoming destructive force and assigns him the task of bringing all of the crystals to him so that he may contain it. Following this, Crash is greeted by another hologram, this time of Doctor Nitrus Brio, Cortex's former assistant from the previous game who is now out to stop his plans for world domination. Brio informs Crash that the Earth not only contains crystals, but gems as well, and states that if he is to collect all 42 gems (37 clear gems and 5 colored gems), then he will be able to focus a device with the ability to fire a laser beam for the purpose of destroying the Cortex Vortex; Brio then states that if Crash continues to collect crystals for Cortex, he will do all in his power to stop him.
As Crash gathers the remaining crystals, he is attacked by Brio's henchmen, including the demented kangaroo Ripper Roo, the scimitar-wielding Komodo Brothers Moe and Joe and the musclebound Tiny Tiger. Cortex informs Crash of Brio's role in the opposition force and falsely claims that he was forced to assist Brio in "his" plot for world domination in the past. Coco, untrusting of Cortex, occasionally hacks into his holograph projector and warns Crash of the uncertainty of Cortex's true intentions. It is not until Crash has gathered all of the crystals that Coco is able to reveal Cortex's ultimate plan: with the energy harnessed from the planetary alignment, Cortex will power the gigantic Cortex Vortex built onto his space station and brainwash everyone on Earth into serving his army with its power. Crash manages to defeat Cortex before the crystals can be used, but leaves the Cortex Vortex drifting aimlessly into space. Crash decides to redeem himself by collecting all of the world's gems for Doctor Nitrus Brio, who reveals that the gems can harness planetary energy as well and invites him to the completion of his laser device. The game ends with Doctor Nitrus Brio allowing Crash to activate the laser, destroying the Cortex Vortex and breaking the space station apart. However, Cortex's laugh is heard mid-way through the end credits.
Production of Crash Bandicoot 2: Cortex Strikes Back began in October 1996. The concept art for the game's environments was mainly created by Naughty Dog employees Bob Rafei, Eric Iwasaki, Erick Pangilinan, Charlotte Francis and Jason Rubin. The jungle levels were originally to have featured ground fog, but this was abandoned when magazines and the public began to criticize other developers for using fog to hide polygon count. Sunlight and depth accentuation was experimented with for these levels. Naughty Dog created the sewer levels as a way to work some "dirty" locations in the game. Color contrast was added to the levels to show depth and break up the repetitive monotony of the endless sewer pipes. The character of Coco Bandicoot was created by Naughty Dog as a counterbalance to Tawna (Crash's girlfriend in the first game) that would appease Sony Computer Entertainment Japan, who weren't comfortable with a "super sexy" character being alongside Crash. Character designer Charles Zembillas drew the first sketches of Coco on March 18, 1997.
For the game, Crash Bandicoot co-creator Andy Gavin programmed a new engine named "Game-Oriented Object LISP 2" (GOOL 2); being three times faster than the previous game's engine, it could handle ten times the animation frames and twice the polygon count. A flat plane z-buffer was created for the game; because the water surfaces and mud in the jungle had to be a flat plane and be exactly flat on the Y-axis, there could be no waves and the subdividing plane could not be at an odd angle. The effect only worked on objects in the foreground and was only used on Crash, some enemies and a few boxes at the same time.
The soundtrack of Crash Bandicoot 2: Cortex Strikes Back was written by Josh Mancell from Mutato Muzika, while the sound effects were created by Universal Sound Studios (consisting of Mike Gollom, Ron Horwitz and Kevin Spears). The characters were designed by Charles Zembillas of American Exitus, Incorporated. Clancy Brown provided the voice of Doctor Neo Cortex, while Brendan O'Brien voiced the dual role of Crash Bandicoot, Doctor N. Gin and Doctor Nitrus Brio and Vicki Winters voiced Coco Bandicoot. The game was unveiled at the Electronic Entertainment Expo in Atlanta, Georgia on June 1997 to a positive response from the game industry. The game went into the alpha stage on August 1997. Around that time, Dan Arey, the lead designer of Gex: Enter the Gecko, joined Naughty Dog and streamlined the level design. A death animation in which Crash is squashed into a stunned head and feet was altered for the Japanese version of the game due to its resemblance to the severed head and shoes left by a serial killer loose in Japan at the time.
Crash Bandicoot 2: Cortex Strikes Back received generally positive reviews from critics. John Broady of GameSpot considered the game to be superior to its predecessor, commenting positively on the Warp Room concept, improved game-saving system and variety of the levels. The staff of IGN praised the "spot on" control and noted the decreased linearity of the game and increased intuition of the bonus levels compared to the first game. Mark Cooke of Game Revolution described the game as "undeniably fun".
The game's graphics were positively received. GameSpot's Broady described them as "in a league of their own among PlayStation games", while the IGN staff praised the high-resolution graphics as "beautiful". Game Revolution's Mark Cooke, meanwhile, went into more detail and started off by describing the graphics as "awesome". He noted the absence of cutscenes brought about by the entirety of the game being "rendered on the fly beautifully" and that the game could "really set some new standards in Playstation graphic quality." He went on to describe the animation as "flawless" and of "cartoon quality" and added that the game's "creatures, environments, and story building scenes are absolutely perfect." The game's audio was also well-received; Broady simply stated that the music "couldn't be better", while Cooke said that Clancy Brown's "hilarious satirical" performance as Doctor Neo Cortex added to the game's cartoonish quality.
Minor criticisms varied amongst critics. Broady noted that the semi-3D setup is "sometimes hard to navigate" and elaborated that "you'll find yourself missing jumps because you're unable to judge distances properly." Additionally, he criticized the trial-and-error aspect of the gameplay as "just plain cheap" and stated that "in some areas you must sacrifice many lives until you memorize a level's layout." The IGN staff said that the level design "isn't as varied as it could be" and added that the "jungle, snow and water" environments are recycled from the previous game and reused multiple times in Cortex Strikes Back. They also described the boss levels as "insultingly easy". Cooke observed that, like its predecessor, the game did not add anything to the genre and summarized that "the first Crash was dauntingly similar to the 16-bit platform games of yester-yore, only with better graphics, and Crash 2 doesn't deviate much from this formula." He also described the "bizarre 3D" cover art of the game as "unnecessary and evil" and "a device of unprecedented agony" and claimed to have contracted a massive headache after "looking at it in [his] car for about 15 seconds".
Since its release, Crash Bandicoot 2: Cortex Strikes Back has sold over 5.17 million units worldwide, selling about 3.78 million units in the United States and 1.3 million units in Japan. This makes it one of the best-selling PlayStation 1 video games of all time. The game's success resulted in its re-release for the Sony Greatest Hits line-up on August 30, 1998 and for the Platinum Range in 1999. The game replaced Crash Bandicoot as the highest-selling non-Japanese title in Japan, selling over 800,000 units by April 1998. Crash Bandicoot 2: Cortex Strikes Back was initially released on the European PlayStation Network on July 26, 2007 but was withdrawn on August 7, 2007, along with Spyro 2: Ripto's Rage! and MediEvil, as a precautionary measure when the latter two games experienced technical problems. The game was released on the North American PlayStation Network on January 10, 2008 and re-released on the European PlayStation Network on February 2, 2011.
- "Crash Bandicoot 2: Cortex Strikes Back for PlayStation". GameSpot. Retrieved March 12, 2010.
- "クラッシュ・バンディクー 2 ～コルテックスの逆襲！～". PlayStation.com(Japan). Sony. Retrieved January 11, 2009.
- "Crash Bandicoot 2: Cortex Strikes Back - PlayStation 3 - GameSpy". GameSpy. Retrieved July 7, 2010.
- Universal, p. 4
- Naughty Dog (November 1, 1997). Crash Bandicoot 2: Cortex Strikes Back. PlayStation. Sony Computer Entertainment. Level/area: Warp Room 1. "Doctor Neo Cortex: Look above the doorways! Above each, there is a big crystal... shaped slot! Fill all five crystal slots in this Warp Room by retrieving one crystal from each of the five areas. Only after we have filled all the slots in this room can we continue on our quest. This is the last time I remind you."
- Naughty Dog (November 1, 1997). Crash Bandicoot 2: Cortex Strikes Back. PlayStation. Sony Computer Entertainment. Level/area: Warp Room 1. "Doctor Neo Cortex: Listen up. We are not without enemies. Some of them you may even recognise. Although they cannot harm you inside this Warp Room, they can attack you on your way to the next one. To get to the next Warp Room, use the platform in the center of the room. Good luck."
- Universal, p. 3
- Universal, p. 13
- Universal, p. 7
- Universal, p. 8
- Universal, p. 5
- Naughty Dog (August 31, 1996). Crash Bandicoot. PlayStation. Sony Computer Entertainment. Level/area: Doctor Neo Cortex.
- Naughty Dog (November 1, 1997). Crash Bandicoot 2: Cortex Strikes Back. PlayStation. Sony Computer Entertainment. Level/area: Opening sequence. "Doctor Neo Cortex: (lights match) Ha ha ha! Crystals, of course. (match goes out) D'oh!"
- Naughty Dog (November 1, 1997). Crash Bandicoot 2: Cortex Strikes Back. PlayStation. Sony Computer Entertainment. Level/area: Opening sequence. "Doctor N. Gin: But Doctor Cortex, to reach full power, we need not only your "Master Crystal", but also there are as many as 25 "Slave Crystals" on the surface. How do you expect to retrieve them when we don't have any earthbound operatives left? / Doctor Neo Cortex: You fool! Do you think I am unaware of this situation? If we don't have any friends left on the surface, then we need to find... an enemy..."
- Universal, p. 6
- Naughty Dog (November 1, 1997). Crash Bandicoot 2: Cortex Strikes Back. PlayStation. Sony Computer Entertainment. Level/area: Opening sequence. "Coco Bandicoot: Crash? Crash! Crash, my battery's fried. Make yourself useful, big brother, and go get an extra battery for me."
- Naughty Dog (November 1, 1997). Crash Bandicoot 2: Cortex Strikes Back. PlayStation. Sony Computer Entertainment. Level/area: Warp Room 1. "Doctor Neo Cortex: Well, well, well. If it isn't Crash Bandicoot. Welcome. I apologize for the cruel means used to bring you here, but I'd rather expect a written invitation would be turned down. I need your help. Surrounding you are a series of five doors. Through each door lies a well-hidden crystal. Crystals look like this. Bring me the crystals, Crash. That is all I can say for now. We will speak again."
- Naughty Dog (November 1, 1997). Crash Bandicoot 2: Cortex Strikes Back. PlayStation. Sony Computer Entertainment. Level/area: Warp Room 1. "Doctor Neo Cortex: Well done, Crash! I knew I could rely on you. Now listen carefully; this hologram is hard to maintain. During the course of my intellectual pursuits, I have stumbled across a force that threatens to destroy the world. Crystals are the only means of containing it. The fate of the world is at stake; it is imperative therefore that you bring them to me!"
- Universal, pp. 9-12
- Naughty Dog (November 1, 1997). Crash Bandicoot 2: Cortex Strikes Back. PlayStation. Sony Computer Entertainment. Level/area: Warp Room 1. "Doctor Nitrus Brio: So, you're helping Cortex gather crystals, yet you have acquired a gem! Interesting... Haha... Well, Crash... huha... know this: as long as you are allied with C-Cortex, you are my sworn enemy, and I will do anything in my power to st-stop you! If the fate of the world is truly your concern, you must g-gather the gems, not the c-crystals. If you obtain all forty-two gems, I can use them to f-focus a laser, heha, a laser beam that will destroy Cortex and his space station! Until then, I must use my forces to stop you from gathering crystals!"
- Naughty Dog (November 1, 1997). Crash Bandicoot 2: Cortex Strikes Back. PlayStation. Sony Computer Entertainment. Level/area: Ripper Roo.
- Naughty Dog (November 1, 1997). Crash Bandicoot 2: Cortex Strikes Back. PlayStation. Sony Computer Entertainment. Level/area: Komodo Brothers.
- Naughty Dog (November 1, 1997). Crash Bandicoot 2: Cortex Strikes Back. PlayStation. Sony Computer Entertainment. Level/area: Tiny Tiger.
- Naughty Dog (November 1, 1997). Crash Bandicoot 2: Cortex Strikes Back. PlayStation. Sony Computer Entertainment. Level/area: Warp Room 4. "Doctor Neo Cortex: Crash, I have discovered that the opposition is being masterminded by Doctor Nitrus Brio, the inventor of the Evolvo-Ray. Brio is responsible for our... misunderstandings in the past. He forced me to assist him in his plot for world domination and he's at it again! He will attempt to stand in our way. Be on your guard, Crash."
- Naughty Dog (November 1, 1997). Crash Bandicoot 2: Cortex Strikes Back. PlayStation. Sony Computer Entertainment. Level/area: Warp Room 2. "Doctor Neo Cortex: Ha ha ha! I see that Ripper Roo failed to prove much of a challenge yet again. But back to business. There are crystals to be gathered, twenty to be exact. The planets will align shortly, all thirteen of them, and this will create a power great enough to rip the Earth apart. Properly utilized, however, the crystals can absorb and contain the.. (hologram fades) / Coco Bandicoot: Crash, is that you? I've been looking everywhere. I don't have much time to tell you this, you have to be careful. Trusting Cortex seems a little unwise. Crash! I can't keep the data path open much longer! Crash, you need to find the... (hologram fades)"
- Naughty Dog (November 1, 1997). Crash Bandicoot 2: Cortex Strikes Back. PlayStation. Sony Computer Entertainment. Level/area: Warp Room 3. "Coco Bandicoot: Crash, thank goodness! I hacked into Cortex's computer and found detailed schematics for an improved Cortex Vortex and a suspicious-looking space station. I'm not sure, but Cortex might be trying... (hologram fades)"
- Naughty Dog (November 1, 1997). Crash Bandicoot 2: Cortex Strikes Back. PlayStation. Sony Computer Entertainment. Level/area: Warp Room 4. "Coco Bandicoot: Crash, I haven't got much time! Cortex has almost completed the new space station! Something is not right with his statements. Beware of the tricks he... (hologram fades)"
- Naughty Dog (November 1, 1997). Crash Bandicoot 2: Cortex Strikes Back. PlayStation. Sony Computer Entertainment. Level/area: Warp Room 5. "Coco Bandicoot: Crash! Cortex isn't going to use the crystals to contain the planets' energy! He's going to harness the force and use it to power the Super Cortex Vortex he has built on his space station! One blast of the ray will cover the entire world, turning everyone into Cortex's mindless slaves! Crash, don't let him have those crystals!"
- Naughty Dog (November 1, 1997). Crash Bandicoot 2: Cortex Strikes Back. PlayStation. Sony Computer Entertainment. Level/area: Ending sequence 1. "Coco Bandicoot: Crash, what do you suppose happened to Cortex? And what about the Cortex Vortex? It's still up there..."
- Naughty Dog (November 1, 1997). Crash Bandicoot 2: Cortex Strikes Back. PlayStation. Sony Computer Entertainment. Level/area: Warp Room 5. "Doctor Nitrus Brio: Y-You-You have acquired all of the gems! Incredible, heh heh ha ha! Crystals are not the only means of harnessing planetary energy, right?! The gems have that ability as well, and with them I can destroy the Cortex Vortex forever! Whoo, heh heh heh! Let me warp you to my completed laser installation, hmm?"
- Naughty Dog (November 1, 1997). Crash Bandicoot 2: Cortex Strikes Back. PlayStation. Sony Computer Entertainment. Level/area: Ending sequence 2. "Doctor Nitrus Brio: We are ready, Crash. Would you like to do the... honors?"
- "[ Crash Gallery - Background Studies - Crash 2 ]". Naughty Dog. Archived from the original on July 28, 2008. Retrieved March 10, 2010.
- Charles Zembillas (January 6, 2013). "Charles Zembillas: Crash Bandicoot - Origin of Coco - Part 1". Zembillas. Retrieved January 7, 2013. "Coco was created as a counter balance to Tawna who was Bandicoot's girlfriend. She came along because ND was sensitive to Sony Japan and wanted to please them. Sony Japan didn't feel comfortable with a super sexy character with Crash so ND went with a sister character instead to appease them. So here she is on the day of her birth. These are the first few sketches. This is where she started from. There's more and I'll be posting those in a later entry. I wrote down the date on these pages when I drew them. March 18, 1997. I was developing Crash 2 at the time."
- "[ Crash Bandicoot - Time Line ]". Naughty Dog. Archived from the original on July 29, 2008. Retrieved March 10, 2010.
- "From Rags to Riches: Way of the Warrior to Crash 3". Game Informer 66 (October 1998): 18–21. 1998.
- Universal, pp. 14-15
- Andy Gavin (February 6, 2011). "Making Crash Bandicoot - part 5". All Things Andy Gavin. Retrieved February 7, 2011. "Naughty Dog would do a huge amount of work after this on the game for Japan, and even then we would always release a Japanese specific build. Whether it was giving Aku Aku pop up text instructions, or replace a Crash smashing "death" that reminded them of the severed head and shoes left by a serial killer that was loose in Japan during Crash 2's release, we focused on Japan and fought hard for acceptance and success."
- "Crash Bandicoot 2: Cortex Strikes Back Reviews and Articles for PlayStation - GameRankings". GameRankings. Retrieved March 12, 2010.
- Mark Cooke (June 4, 2004). "Crash Bandicoot 2: Cortex Strikes Back review for the PS". Game Revolution. Retrieved March 12, 2010.
- John Broady (November 25, 1997). "Crash Bandicoot 2: Cortex Strikes Back Review for PlayStation - GameSpot". GameSpot. Retrieved March 12, 2010.
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- Universal Staff (1996). Crash Bandicoot 2: Cortex Strikes Back Instruction Booklet. Sony Computer Entertainment. ISBN 0-06-083305-X.