Doctor Neo Cortex
|Doctor Neo Cortex|
|Crash Bandicoot character|
Doctor Neo Cortex as he appears in Crash: Mind over Mutant
|First game||Crash Bandicoot (1996)|
|Created by||Naughty Dog|
|Designed by||Charles Zembillas|
|Voiced by (English)||Brendan O'Brien (1996)
Clancy Brown (1997-2003)
Lex Lang (2004-2008)
Debi Derryberry (child)
|Voiced by (Japanese)||Shōzō Iizuka (1996-2005)
Yōsuke Akimoto (2006)
Noriko Suzuki (child)
Doctor Neo Periwinkle Cortex  (often referred to as Doctor Cortex, Neo Cortex, or simply Cortex) is a video game character and the primary antagonist of the Crash Bandicoot series. His name is a play on the term neocortex, an area of the brain. In the series, Cortex is depicted as a mad scientist who seeks to achieve world domination as an act of vengeance for the ridicule he has suffered in the past. Hoping to achieve this by mutating the local animals into his soldiers, he eventually creates Crash Bandicoot, the titular character of the series, but soon rejects him as unworthy of being in his army and removes him from his castle. As Cortex's actions endanger the sanctity of the islands the games are set in, Cortex's plans for world domination are often hampered by Crash along with other characters. Crash's constant interference has made eliminating Crash one of Cortex's top priorities along with world domination.
Cortex was created by Andy Gavin and Jason Rubin, and was originally designed by Joe Pearson and Charles Zembillas. Critical reception of Cortex has been mostly positive, with much of the praise going to his portrayal in Crash Twinsanity. The character's reception before and after the game, however, has been mixed.
Design and characteristics
The idea for Cortex was conceived while Andy Gavin, Jason Rubin, Dave Baggett and Mark Cerny were eating "mediocre Italian" near Universal Interactive Studios. Gavin came up with the idea of an "evil genius villain with a big head" who was "all about his attitude and his minions". Rubin, having become fond of the animated television series Pinky and the Brain, imagined a "more malevolent Brain" with minions resembling the weasel characters in Who Framed Roger Rabbit. After Gavin performed a "silly villain voice" depicting the attitude in mind for the character, the villain's name, Doctor Neo Cortex, was instantly formulated. Gavin and Rubin described Cortex to character designer Charles Zembillas as "[having] a huge head but a tiny body, he’s a mad scientist, and he dresses a bit like a Nazi from the Jetsons". Jason Rubin owns the original sketches of Cortex by Zembillas. Because Cortex's game model was unable to walk properly due to the short length of his legs, the character was kept stationary in much of his appearances. Cortex is voiced by Brendan O'Brien in the first Crash Bandicoot game, by Clancy Brown from Crash Bandicoot 2: Cortex Strikes Back up to Crash Nitro Kart and by Lex Lang from Crash Twinsanity onwards. In the Japanese versions of the games, he is voiced by Shōzō Iizuka up to Crash Tag Team Racing and by Yōsuke Akimoto in Crash Boom Bang!. In a flashback to Cortex's childhood in Crash Twinsanity, he is voiced by Debi Derryberry in the English version of the game and by Noriko Suzuki in the Japanese version.
Cortex's main motivation for conquering the world stems from extensive ridicule he had suffered in the past. He is also talked into world domination plots by his overseer Uka Uka, whom Cortex formerly feared to the point that he got down on his hands and knees in his presence. Overtime, this fear of Uka Uka would disappear, leading to Cortex opposing his own replacement in Crash of the Titans and eventually revolting against him in Crash: Mind over Mutant, citing a desire to "run this operation [...] again" as justification for his actions. Cortex has been described as having an ego "the size of a hot air balloon". His egomania often blinds him to others' hatred of him to the point where he delusively believes that he is in fact loved by everyone, including those he considers his enemies. While he frequently declares himself to be aesthetically attractive, he has displayed self-conscious behavior about his physical appearance on at least one occasion. In addition, he dislikes personal habits that he deems disgusting, and once went as far as placing a bounty on someone who ate sandwiches while going to the bathroom.
Cortex was once described as having a "huge head and bright yellow skin" by a minor character in Crash Tag Team Racing. His most distinguishing feature is the large N located on his forehead, the origin of which is unknown. However, in the back of the Prima Strategy Guide for Crash Team Racing, it states that the N was tattooed on his head by his childhood bullies. The N stands for nerd. Cortex is near-bald with the exception of a few areas on his head; Andy Gavin and Jason Rubin humorously explained that Cortex only uses Rogaine on those select areas. The hair that he does have is black (blue in recent installments) and frazzled. In much of his appearances, Cortex is dressed in a white lab coat, black underclothes and matching gloves and boots (yellow in earlier games and reddish-brown in later appearances). Cortex stands 1.6 meters (about five feet and three inches) and weighs 59 kilograms (130 pounds).
Cortex's full birth name is given as "Neo Periwinkle Cortex". As a child, Neo Cortex was a classmate of Doctor N. Gin and Doctor Nitrus Brio in Madame Amberly's Academy of Evil. It was here that Cortex began constructing the Evolvo-Ray, which he would use to create an army of super-animals. Due to the incomplete nature of the Evolvo-Ray, a test run results in the disappearance of Cortex's pet parrots Victor and Moritz. It is implied in Crash Tag Team Racing that Cortex served in the Da Nang Air Base during the Vietnam War. As an adult, Cortex was ridiculed by the scientific community for his outlandish (yet nearly workable) theories, and became motivated by the desire to silence his opposition.
In most of the Main series, Cortex has served as the main antagonist. In Crash Bandicoot, Cortex begins using the Evolvo-Ray to create a mutated army of animals that will aid him in his quest for world domination, which he calls the "Cortex Commandos". When Crash Bandicoot escapes from his castle, he prepares to experiment on a female bandicoot named Tawna. However, he is soon confronted and defeated by Crash, who gets away with Tawna on Cortex's airship. In Crash Bandicoot 2: Cortex Strikes Back, Cortex lands in a cavern where he discovers a large Crystal that he believes will aid him in controlling the world. However, he soon learns that 25 smaller Crystals are needed alongside this "Master Crystal" if his new "Cortex Vortex" device is going to work. To remedy this situation, Cortex abducts Crash Bandicoot a year later and fools him into believing that he is working to save the world from an upcoming solar flux by gathering the Crystals. Cortex is later forced to flee when Coco Bandicoot discovers Cortex's real plan and reveals it to Crash. When the ruins of his space station crash into Earth and release his boss Uka Uka in Crash Bandicoot 3: Warped, Cortex takes part in Uka Uka's plan to gather the Crystals in their original places in time by using Doctor Nefarious Tropy's Time-Twisting Machine. When Tropy is defeated, the Time-Twisting Machine implodes on itself, trapping Cortex, Tropy and Uka Uka in a strange time prison.
Preceding the events of Crash Bandicoot: The Wrath of Cortex, Cortex began laboring over a genetically-advanced superweapon that'll supposedly wipe Crash Bandicoot off the face of the Earth forever. The project is kept a secret until it is inadvertedly revealed by N. Gin and N. Tropy during a bad guy convention inside Cortex's new space station. He claims that the superweapon is unbelievably strong, but it is still missing a power source. He soon decides to use the Elementals as the power source, which successfully bring the secret weapon, Crunch Bandicoot, to life. When Crunch fails to defeat Crash, Cortex tries to explain himself to Uka Uka, but soon finds himself dodging Uka Uka's subsequent energy blast, which hits a vital part of the space station. During the resulting critical overload, Uka Uka and Doctor Cortex flee into an escape pod, which lands in the frozen wastes of Antarctica, stranding them both on a large sheet of ice. In Crash Twinsanity, Cortex ambushes Coco, disguises himself as her, and lures Crash over to the bay where he attempts to eliminate Crash with the forty-foot-tall Mecha-Bandicoot piloted by Doctor N. Gin, which Crash easily disposes of. Angered, Cortex viciously attacks Crash in an underground cavern, his rage only calmed with the discovery of a Power Crystal. When two mutated parrots named the Evil Twins suddenly appear and announce their plans to destroy Crash's island and devastate Earth, Crash and Cortex temporarily team up to destroy these two upstarts with the aid of the Psychetron, a machine that will allow them to travel between the infinite dimensions. However, it soon becomes apparent that the Evil Twins are from Cortex's past. Recruiting his niece, Nina Cortex, the trio set out to stop the Evil Twins, with Cortex also aiming to steal their vast treasure. After finally confronting and defeating the Evil Twins, Cortex returns to the Iceberg Lab, where he attempts to dispose of Crash with the Psychetron. Unfortunately for him, the Psychetron malfunctions, sending Cortex into Crash's mind.
In Crash of the Titans, Cortex kidnaps Coco and Aku Aku (Crash rescues Aku Aku), and proceeds to steal a large quantity of Mojo from an ancient temple, planning to use it to create an army of "Titans", which will aid him in the construction of a giant robot dubbed "The Doominator". He then attempts to eliminate Crash with the aid of his patented Yuktopus, but fails to do so. Heading back to his base, Cortex is lambasted by Uka Uka for failing to kill Crash, and is replaced by Nina Cortex. Inactive for much of the game, Cortex is denied the opportunity to watch his Doominator in action. At the end of the game, Cortex rescues Nina from the collapsing Doominator, and praises Nina for betraying him, as it is the vilest thing she could've ever done, although he still decides to "spank [her] stupid" for it. At that moment, Cortex vows to be more villainous and horrible in the future. In Crash: Mind over Mutant, Cortex drops Nina off at the Evil Public School (which he apparently owns) as punishment for her betrayal, then reconciles with his old colleague Nitrus Brio to invent the NV, a personal digital assistant that controls whoever uses it by transmitting negative Mojo, unwillingly supplied by Uka Uka through the use of a milking machine. He later engages in a fight with Crash inside his new Space Head space station, empowering himself with the use of N. Brio's original mutation formula. Upon losing the fight, Cortex throws a tantrum, causing the Space Head to plummet towards Earth. Returning to normal, he escapes the Space Head in a smaller shuttle with an unnamed Znu.
Other appearances in the series
Doctor Cortex appears as a playable character in Crash Team Racing and Crash Bash. The epilogue of Crash Team Racing states that Cortex went back to scientific research and discovered a new element in the periodic table, which he named "Cortexrulestheworldium". In Crash Bandicoot: The Huge Adventure, Cortex tries to conquer the world by shrinking it to the size of a grapefruit with his new Planetary Minimizer. In the game's climax, he is fused with the game's three other bosses by the malfunctioning Planetary Minimizer, forming a creature known as Mega-Mix. Mega-Mix chases Crash down the space station's hall but is unsuccessful in catching him, and the creature ends up trapped in the space station as it explodes. Although Cortex does not appear in the story of Crash Bandicoot 2: N-Tranced, he is a playable character in the game's two-player mode if it is linked up to Crash Bandicoot: The Huge Adventure. Cortex is a playable character in Crash Nitro Kart as well. In the game's story, Cortex is abducted along with N. Gin and Tiny, and is forced to compete in Emperor Velo's Galaxy Circuit. When Velo is defeated and rendered useless as a ruler, Cortex uses Velo's scepter to return to Earth, but is instead transported to Terra, where Tiny gains the respect of the citizens (much to Cortex's utter annoyance). In Crash Bandicoot Purple: Ripto's Rampage, Cortex teams up with Ripto, a villain from the Spyro the Dragon series to destroy both Crash and Spyro, but he ends up defeated by their nemeses. Doctor Cortex is a playable character in Crash Tag Team Racing. In the game's story, Cortex attempts to win the deed to Von Clutch's MotorWorld and use it as a new base of operations. When Crash wins the deed to the park, Cortex liquifies Willie Wumpa Cheeks (the park's mascot) and is about to kill Crash when Crash retaliates by throwing a live chicken into the rotor of Cortex's death machine, causing it to malfunction. Cortex is also a playable character in Crash Boom Bang!, in which he attempts to steal the Viscount's map and find the Super Big Power Crystal himself. When Cortex and the Viscount struggle for the possession of the map, it tears into four pieces. Cortex sends his Lab Assistants to find the pieces before anyone else can, but he is unsuccessful in the search.
Cortex has been featured in a series of Crash Bandicoot action figures produced by the now-defunct Resaurus. For Crash Bandicoot 2: Cortex Strikes Back, Resaurus produced a "Dr. Neo Cortex" figure bundled with a laser gun, a Wumpa Fruit and a Crystal as seen in the game.
John Scalzo of Gaming Target once compared Cortex to Doctor Eggman of the Sonic the Hedgehog series, speculating that they "probably graduated from the same evil medical school" and remarked that "they look like brothers." Mark Cooke of Game Revolution praised Clancy Brown's vocal performance as Cortex in Crash Bandicoot 2: Cortex Strikes Back as "hilarious" and "satirical", while Joseph Boutilier of Netjak felt that "Cortex often sounds pretty hokey," and that "somewhere Cortex's dialogue goes wrong."
Doctor Cortex's portrayal in Crash Twinsanity was singled out for praise among reviewers. James B. Pringle of IGN noted that the game "shows a side of the evil doctor that we haven't seen before" and, while describing the game's dialogue as "solid," said that "Cortex is the one you want to keep listening to." Ryan Davis of GameSpot analyzed "Cortex's constant creeping and sniveling" as "a great showcase of the kinds of neuroses that might cause one to gain an interest in evil science," and added that "the strained grandeur of Cortex's speech" was the most "accomplished" voice work in the game. Gordy Wheeler of Worth Playing considered Cortex "having abuse heaped on him like a classic Warner Brothers character" to be "the most fun part of this game," and went on to heavily praise Lex Lang's vocal performance, writing that "just about all of the game's best lines come from Cortex, and his voice actor brings it home solidly. He may be on the way to being my favorite mad scientist ever and that's a heck of a feat. Someone get his voice actor into another role RIGHT NOW. I want more of him." Brent Soboleski of TeamXbox believed that Cortex was "probably the best and most entertaining character of the game since players get a completely different look at his personality this time through," and felt that he was "very funny and his sarcasm and evil attitude are a perfect match for his personality." Nick Valentino of GameZone felt that "the biggest laughs, believe it or not, come from Doctor Neo Cortex who comes off as nutty in the best possible way. He’s filled with witty observations and often pokes fun of his past encounters with Crash." He later remarked that "the twisted Doctor is one hilarious bloke and his dialogue just makes him all the more likeable."
Doctor Cortex's reception was more negative in later games. In a review of Crash Tag Team Racing, Rob Byron of AceGamez noted that Cortex "has taken a slightly dopier, camper representation than his predecessors, which gives him a more lovable feel." Mitch Youngblood of Gaming Trend, in a review for Crash of the Titans, negatively described Cortex as "an over-amped drama queen cranked up to an 11." GameDaily ranked Doctor Cortex number twenty-three on their list of Top 25 Evil Masterminds of All Time article, stating "His twisted Wario-like hair, his pointy goatee and that big N stamped in the middle of his forehead makes him look like pure evil." GamesRadar ranked him 98th in their 2013 list of the best villains in video game history.
- Radical Entertainment. Crash Tag Team Racing. Multiplatform. Sierra Entertainment. Level/area: Von Clutch Makes a Deal. "Doctor Neo Cortex: What is the meaning of this?! Have you any idea with whom you are dealing?! / Ebenezer Von Clutch: Ze vorld-renowned evil-doer Doctor Neo Perivinkle Cortex! I have all your games."
- "[ Crash Gallery - Character Sketches - Crash 1 ]". Naughty Dog. Archived from the original on August 5, 2008. Retrieved February 1, 2009.
- Andy Gavin (February 3, 2011). "Making Crash Bandicoot - part 2". All Things Andy Gavin. Retrieved February 7, 2011.
- "Crash Bandicoot 2: Cortex Strikes Back for PlayStation - Technical Information, Game Information, Technical Support - GameSpot". GameSpot. Retrieved February 1, 2009.
- "Crash Bandicoot 3: Warped for PlayStation - Technical Information, Game Information, Technical Support - GameSpot". GameSpot. Retrieved February 1, 2009.
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- "Crash Bandicoot: The Wrath of Cortex for PlayStation 2 - Technical Information, Game Information, Technical Support - GameSpot". GameSpot. Retrieved February 1, 2009.
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- Crash Bandicoot Instruction Booklet. Sony Computer Entertainment. 1996. p. 19.
- "Welcome to Crash Village". Sierra Entertainment. Retrieved February 2, 2009.
- Vicarious Visions. Crash Bandicoot: The Huge Adventure. Game Boy Advance. Vivendi Games. Level/area: Opening sequence. "Doctor Neo Cortex: Finally, after all these years of abuse, the tables have turned! Who's the little guy now?"
- "[Crash Gallery - Character Sketches - Crash 3 ]". Naughty Dog. Archived from the original on July 30, 2008. Retrieved August 11, 2008.
- Radical Entertainment. Crash of the Titans. Multiplatform. Sierra Entertainment. Level/area: The Temple of Zoom. "Doctor Neo Cortex: You can't replace me! My name's on the stationery!"
- Radical Entertainment. Crash: Mind over Mutant. Multiplatform. Sierra Entertainment. Level/area: The Big Twist. "Uka Uka: Cortex, what is the meaning of this? Release me immediately! / Doctor Neo Cortex: I used to run this operation, and it's time I did again."
- Traveller's Tales. Crash Twinsanity. Multiplatform. Sony Computer Entertainment America. Level/area: Madame Amberly's Academy of Evil. "Doctor Neo Cortex: I was eight years old and the most popular student in the Academy. Ah, yes. (A dagger is chucked in Young Cortex's direction and implants itself in the machine Cortex is tinkering with, just barely missing his head.) How they loved me."
- Radical Entertainment. Crash Tag Team Racing. Multiplatform. Sierra Entertainment. Level/area: Midway. "Doctor Neo Cortex: (when attacked by Crash) I thought you liked me!"
- Radical Entertainment. Crash Tag Team Racing. Multiplatform. Sierra Entertainment. Level/area: Midway. "Doctor Neo Cortex: (when attacked by Crash) Why me?! I'm so pretty!"
- Radical Entertainment. Crash Tag Team Racing. Multiplatform. Sierra Entertainment. Level/area: Race. "Doctor Neo Cortex: (when passing by an opponent) Ain't my backside pretty?"
- Radical Entertainment. Crash Tag Team Racing. Multiplatform. Sierra Entertainment. Level/area: Race. "Doctor Neo Cortex: Ha ha ha! I'm funky fresh and beautiful!"
- Radical Entertainment. Crash Tag Team Racing. Multiplatform. Sierra Entertainment. Level/area: Mystery Island. "Doctor Neo Cortex: I need to do a little sneaking around but I can't because... my head's too big! I mean look at me. I stick out like a chocolate bar in a swimming pool! If I'm going to get to the bottom of this, I need you to get me something black and slimming to wear. I don't want my butt to look so big!"
- Radical Entertainment. Crash: Mind over Mutant. Multiplatform. Sierra Entertainment. Level/area: Space Head. "Doctor Neo Cortex: Attention, minions. Someone has been eating sandwiches while going to the bathroom! That's seriously gross. A reward of ten-thousand currency units has been issued for that sandwich micturator. That is all."
- Radical Entertainment. Crash Tag Team Racing. Multiplatform. Sierra Entertainment. Level/area: Mystery Island. "Liverpudlian Park Drone: Hey, man. You trying to sneak around in forbidden areas but can't because of your huge head and bright yellow skin?"
- "[ Crash Bandicoot - Twenty Questions ]". Naughty Dog. Archived from the original on August 22, 2008. Retrieved February 2, 2009.
- Amaze Entertainment. Crash of the Titans. Nintendo DS. Sierra Entertainment. Level/area: Doctor Neo Cortex profile.
- "Crash Twinsanity concept art depicting Doctor Neo Cortex, Doctor N. Gin and Doctor Nitrus Brio as children in Amberly's Private Academy". Crash Mania. Retrieved February 1, 2009.
- Traveller's Tales. Crash Twinsanity. Multiplatform. Sony Computer Entertainment America. Level/area: Madame Amberly's Academy of Evil. "Doctor Neo Cortex: It was my first experiment with the Evolvo-Ray, Phase One in my plan to create an army of superanimals! The test subjects: my two pet parrots Victor and Moritz, the only creatures I didn't loathe or eat. The experiment was proceeding as planned, when, suddenly... my parrots were gone! Lost among the infinite dimensions!"
- Radical Entertainment. Crash Tag Team Racing. Multiplatform. Sierra Entertainment. "Doctor Neo Cortex: (after striking an opponent with a weapon) Ha ha ha! Just like back in Da Nang!"
- Naughty Dog (1997-10-31). 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."
- Traveller's Tales. Crash Bandicoot: The Wrath of Cortex. Multiplatform. Sony Computer Entertainment America. Level/area: Opening sequence. "Doctor Nefarious Tropy: There must be something we can come up with! Say, Doctor. Haven't you been tinkering with some kind of new secret weapon in your laboratory? / Doctor Neo Cortex: I don't know what you're talking about, N. Tropy! / Doctor N. Gin: Doctor Cortex! I think he's referring to the super-secret weapon you've been laboring over day and night since the last time Crash defeated you!"
- Traveller's Tales. Crash Bandicoot: The Wrath of Cortex. Multiplatform. Sony Computer Entertainment. Level/area: Opening sequence. "Doctor Neo Cortex: Well, in my scientific endeavors, I've been able to create a superweapon of unbelievable strength. But the power source... is the final missing crucial element."
- Radical Entertainment (October 4, 2007). Crash of the Titans. Multiplatform. Sierra Entertainment. Level/area: Episode 4: The Temple of Zoom. "Doctor Neo Cortex: I will use the stolen Mojo to create a huge army of loyal mutants, not rejects like you guys. / Coco Bandicoot: You jerk. / Doctor Neo Cortex: But best of all, I will use this army to construct a mighty robot. The largest doomsday device I've ever built. I will smash Wumpa Island, then take over the world! And I shall call this robot... the Doominator!!"
- Radical Entertainment (2007-10-04). Crash of the Titans Wii. Sierra Entertainment. Level/area: Episode 20: Revengeance 2 — The Revengicide. "Why did you rescue me? I betrayed you, took over your evil plan... then failed. / Doctor Neo Cortex: Oh, Nina. Betraying me is the most vile, evil thing you could've ever done! You're a skank. I'm... just so proud of you right now. / Nina Cortex: Hooray! / Doctor Neo Cortex: I promise. From now on, I'll be more evil, more villainous, more horrible! Horrible! Oh, and go kill bandicoots too. I'm still going to spank you stupid for this. / Nina Cortex: Ohhh..."
- Radical Entertainment (October 7, 2008). Crash: Mind over Mutant. Multiplatform. Activision. Level/area: Fists of Orange Fury. "Doctor Neo Cortex: Oh. Did I forget to mention I was going to cheat? I've got some of N. Brio's mutation formula here to even the odds."
- Naughty Dog. Crash Team Racing. PlayStation. Sony Computer Entertainment. Level/area: Epilogue. "Text: Cortex went back to scientific research and discovered a new element in the periodic table. Numerous lawsuits failed to change the name he boldly chose for Element 117.... CORTEXRULESTHEWORLDIUM"
- Dimps. Crash Boom Bang!. Nintendo DS. Sierra Entertainment. Level/area: The City. "Doctor Neo Cortex: My loyal slaves... you will find those pieces and bring me the map. You'd better go find me those map fragments..."
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- Doctor Neo Cortex on Crash Bandicoot Wiki at Wikia