Crash Bandicoot 2: Cortex Strikes Back (PlayStation) Review

By Thom Compton 12.11.2017

Review for Crash Bandicoot 2: Cortex Strikes Back on PlayStation

When Mario landed, Nintendo had its face. SEGA soon followed suit with Sonic, leaving Sony looking for its mascot. How about a hero who saves a princess, or stops a mad scientist? No, said Sony, defiantly. They had a better idea, you see. They would get a marsupial, put him in basketball shorts, and make him do highly inappropriate thrusting motions every time he managed to succeed at something. Should go over really well with parents, right?

Crash Bandicoot 2: Cortex Strikes Back came out when it seemed like everyone was making a platformer. While the original Crash Bandicoot managed to bring the genre to the forefront of charming irreverent, it had a dramatically inconsistent difficulty across the game. Crash Bandicoot 2 sought to make that difficulty more even and to refine the overworld. It did this almost effortlessly. However, it managed to introduce brand new problems to the fold.

Screenshot for Crash Bandicoot 2: Cortex Strikes Back on PlayStation

In Crash 2, you traverse warp rooms, meaning the island view world map of the original was streamlined into a much easier display. Each of these warp rooms had five levels, all with a different theme. One level would thrust you into the frozen tundra, while the next put you on the Amazon - or at least it came off that way.

Even in their early days, Naughty Dog knew how to mix it up. The variety of environments to explore is varied enough to keep it interesting throughout the game. However, like any good platformer, it didn't mix them up so much that the player didn't know what to expect going forward. You knew you were going to have to ride that horrible boogie board/jet ski combo the second you realized the level was filled with water, for instance.

Screenshot for Crash Bandicoot 2: Cortex Strikes Back on PlayStation

Like many platformers of the time, there are a plethora of collectibles; in this case, gems. Now, there are multiple types of gems. If you break every box in a level, for example, you get the box gem. Coloured gems require quite a bit more work, and this is one of the features that seems sorely missed from games nowadays. Instead of just searching aimlessly for collectibles, finding them laying around like the whole game is set in a dirty room, you actually had to work for them. Mind you, some, like the green gem, are much easier to find than others, such as the red gem. Still, this doesn't make the difficulty feel all that off, and gives the game much more replay value once you've felled the final boss.

However, Crash Bandicoot 2 hasn't aged very well, which makes the HD remake all the sweeter. For instance, this was in the early days of 3D platformers, so not all mechanics were quite as cool as others. One sublime example of this are the bees, or even the chase levels. There are a lot of mechanics that just don't feel right. Many of them are just too tedious to deal with, while some seem downright unfair.

Screenshot for Crash Bandicoot 2: Cortex Strikes Back on PlayStation

The controls also aren't always what you'd hope they'd be. The aforementioned boogie board/jet ski combo feels absolutely terrible to drive, and your interaction with a certain little polar bear can be too much to tolerate sometimes. While moving and jumping usually feels okay, many of the boss levels seem uneven. As you jump towards the camera, you may have trouble landing where you want to. One boss fight against a certain ironically-named feline (at least he looks like a tiger), manages to be difficult solely because of the way the room is designed.

Truth be told, Crash Bandicoot 2: Cortex Strikes Back is really a great product to study the idea of nostalgia. Many gamers remember playing it with their siblings, or parents, or friends when they were little, before they knew that games were made by people. Back then, many gamers thought these collections of pixels and code just appeared one day. Now, we've seen behind the wizard's curtain, and we know better. Crash 2 is still a lot of fun, but it's much harder all these years later to look past its glaring issues. That's a shame, because outside of those issues, it's an incredibly smart platformer.

Screenshot for Crash Bandicoot 2: Cortex Strikes Back on PlayStation

Cubed3 Rating

Rated 7 out of 10

Very Good - Bronze Award

Rated 7 out of 10

Crash Bandicoot 2: Cortex Strikes Back falters not because it's bad, but because gamers view their entertainment differently now. It's hard to look past the touchy controls now that we've played games with much more refined controls. If you haven't played it, definitely give the original a try before picking up the HD trilogy released this past summer. Just remember, things were different back in the 90s, and this game proves it pretty quick.


Naughty Dog




3D Platformer



C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  7/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date Out now   Australian release date Out now   


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