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Crash Bandicoot 2: Cortex Strikes Back (PS)

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4 Reviews

Published by: Sony / Genre: Platform / Release Date: 1997

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    Your dooyooMiles Miles

    4 Reviews
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    • More +
      17.06.2011 18:08
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      Classic game

      I think anyone who owned a PlayStation will be familiar with the Crash Bandicoot games. An infamous series of games and spin offs (Crash Team Racing anyone?), these games were some of the most popular of their time. If, however, you have absolutely no idea as to what I'm talking about, let me fill you in. The Crash Bandicoot games were platform games, in which you played as a bandicoot (albeit a very loose interpretation of a bandicoot) named Crash. The general premise of each game was to explore levels in order to collect the items relevant to the particular game in order to overcome your adversary.

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      Storyline
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      I never did play the first Crash Bandicoot game, but from what I can gather, the evil Dr. Neo Cortex was attempting to conduct experiments on Crash. However, when Cortex expelled Crash from his castle and held on to Crash's girlfriend, Tawna, it was up to our bandicoot to defeat Cortex and rescue her. However, Tawna does not make an appearance in Crash Bandicoot 2, nor is an explanation given as to why she was ditched from the storyline.

      In this game, Crash is abducted by Cortex and sent to a warp room. However, instead of trying to fight Crash, Cortex appeals to Crash to help him collect crystals in order to stop a destructive force which threatens to destroy the planet. Cortex explains that only he can stop this mysterious destructive force. Meanwhile, Cortex's old friend, Dr. Nitrus Brio appeals to Crash to stop Cortex by collecting gems instead of crystals in order to help him power up a laser to destroy Cortex. Who can Crash trust, if anyone...?

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      Gameplay
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      Gameplay is relatively straight forward in terms of what you have to do. There are five warp rooms to access, with each warp room containing five levels. Each level contains one crystal to collect and all levels will contain at least one gem (sometimes two). To collect at least one gem in every level, you have to open all boxes in the level. To collect the extra gems in the level, you will have to locate the gems and collect them (this is much harder than it sounds).

      Upon playing, it soon becomes obvious that Crash has a range of moves. He can jump, spin, skid, crawl, and bodyslam. There is no tutorial for the game, and so you are left to figure out yourself (or by reading the manual if you can be bothered) how to work these out. As I mentioned, there are boxes in each level; some helpful, some dangerous:

      *A general box with a '?' on it contains Wumpa fruit (a funny name for what essentially looks like an apple). When you collect 100 Wumpa fruit, Crash gains an extra life (and trust me, you're going to want these extra lives). Other boxes also contain Wumpa fruit (such as the fortified box). However not all boxes are opened the same way, and it's up to you to figure out which moves will benefit you best in this way.

      *Some boxes contain extra lives or a Witch Doctor Mask. The Witch Doctor Mask is very useful, as he accompanies you and takes 1 hit so that you don't die. If you manage to open 1 or more Witch Doctor Mask box without having been hit in the meantime, your Witch Doctor Mask will upgrade and can take 2 hits. If you manage to do this a further time, you become invincible against enemy hits for a short time.

      *TNT and Nitro boxes are explosive and will kill you if you stand close to them at the time of their explosion. However, you must figure out a way to open even TNT and Nitro boxes in order to get the gem for opening all boxes. Can you do it without getting yourself killed...?

      Each level also has a bonus round, in which you are able to collect more Wumpa fruit/boxes. Although you don't lose a life if you 'die' on a bonus round, you will lose all Wumpa fruit and boxes collected, and are transported back to the entrance of the bonus round. They tend to be particularly challenging, just to warn your nerves in advance.

      The game offers an extra challenge in as much as the camera angle cannot be manoeuvred as is possible in some other platform games (Spyro, for example). It is as though it is stationed behind you as you run forward, and follows you as you run through the level. Thus, if you need to go back on the path you've come from, you're essentially travelling blind, as very little can be seen by going backwards (towards the camera).

      The main and easiest way to progress in the game is to simply focus on collecting Cortex's crystals. Once you have collected the crystal from a particular level and reached its end, the level is essentially finished. You must collect the five crystals from the five levels in the warp room in order to progress to the next warp room and repeat.

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      My thoughts
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      In my opinion, there are two modes of play to this game: the easy mode where you simply go for the crystals and get to the end of each level OR the hard mode where you try and collect the crystals and try and open every box in the game in order to collect the gems. If you choose to focus on the crystals alone, you'll find that you 'complete' the game relatively quickly. However, the latter option really does require skill, as boxes are generally positioned in all kinds of awkward places. You'll find yourself jumping about a LOT, and there are enemies and bottomless pits at every point of your journey. Crash Bandicoot 2 is definitely tougher than other platform games I've played, as one touch of an enemy/fall down a hole/slip into water will lose all your progress from the last checkpoint, and this can become ridiculously frustrating, especially if you find it happening over and over again at the same point. A slight misjudgement on something can completely ruin all your hard work up to a certain point, and at times, I've found it to take all my willpower not to scream and throw my controller through the screen of the TV. What's worse is that I think the developers knew they'd made a ridiculously frustrating game, and just to accommodate for all the times you die, there are short death animations for Crash once he has died (e.g. becoming an angel, freezing in an iceblock in cold water etc.) Although these are somewhat amusing at first, they soon become annoying, and seem to be a mocking from the developers because you've died YET AGAIN (No? Just me?)

      That said, my own frustration at the game only goes to show how challenging gameplay is. This is certainly not a game you can get bored playing. Although levels essentially follow the same principles (i.e. jump over holes, kill enemies, open boxes etc.), they do vary and get harder as you progress to further warp rooms. Also, a fun variation to certain levels is where you ride on the back of a tiny polar bear (you wonder how it doesn't get crushed under your weight). These are my favourite levels, as they are quick and relatively easy to complete, essentially giving you a bit of a respite from the harder levels of the game. Additionally, running toward the camera from a giant snowball or polar bear is wonderfully challenging, as you cannot see what's ahead of you, and once again offer a bit of variation from an otherwise same formula of gameplay.

      A criticism I would make of the game is that the bosses that you encounter between each warp room are ridiculously easy. I gave the first boss the benefit of the doubt between the first and second warp rooms, as I expected the bosses to get harder as progression was made throughout the game. However, the second boss appeared to be easier. If anything, I would have made some of the initial levels slightly easier and have concentrated on making the bosses slightly harder if I could offer any points for improvement for the game developers.

      Also, if I was to be very picky, I would have added more variation in the themes of levels, as the game seems to concentrate very much on levels which have a sewer/jungle/snow theme and not much else. This doesn't impact massively on the overall experience of the game, but it would have offered a point of interest in terms of just wanting to explore new terrains in the various levels.

      Like I said at the start, I haven't played the first Crash Bandicoot game. However, on comparing some screenshots between the two, I would say that the graphics improved by the second game. Although by today's standards, the graphics would be considered dated, I think that the amount of detail put into levels was wonderful and at the time of its release (1997), made Crash Bandicoot one of the best games for the PlayStation.

      Overall, this game WILL make you want to scream (unless you're less wound up by games than me) but it is a great game. It may not be as complex as today's games, but it certainly does still offer challenging and entertaining gameplay. Go dig it out of the attic and immerse yourself in a classic PlayStation game!

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      • More +
        10.06.2010 17:00

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        One of the best platform PS games

        This game is one of the best platform games available for the Playstation One. Indeed it is definitely one of the games that took up a lot of my childhood. This game is a follow on from the first in the Crash series and we rejoin the story from the end of that game with the evil Cortex falling through space.

        Crash is transported into Cortex's Warp room and must assist Cortex by collecting crystals from each level. There are at first five levels open to Crash but once you have completed these levels and beat the bad guy at the end, five more levels open up to you. There is one main crystal in each level, the most important crystal, but there are also others hidden in difficult places and gotten for various other things so there is a lot to do. Crash must jump, spin and slide his way through the many levels to collect them all, beating bad guys along the way.

        This is a great game and although the graphics are now dated the gameplay still stands the test of time.

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        27.01.2010 20:03
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        one of the best games in the series.

        This game is the sequel to the original and hugely succesfull crash bandicoot game. This game has better level's and slightly better graphics.

        This is my 3rd favorite crash bandicoot game behind crash team racing and crash bandicoot 3 warped. This game is great fun and is the perfect game to dig out on a boring uneventful day.

        The game starts right at the end of the first game with a cutscene of cortex falling at the last boss of the first game. Cortex later crashes through into a cave full of crystals and then the game zooms to 2 years later.

        The game starts by introducing crash's sister coco who is not playable in this game. She asks crash to fetch a battery for her laptop. Now you take control of crash and run through a jungle until cortex teleports you to a warp room. Then a hologram of him appears asking you to help him save the world by gathering all of the crystals for him.

        This game has better gameplay then the first game as the levels are much more interesting and better designed and there are 30 levels in total including the hidden warproom. There are also much more things to collect in this game. There are now crystals and gems and also coloured gems.

        There are varied level types i this game such as levels where you are running from boulders/polar bears where you character is running towards the camera. There are also levels whre you are riding a polar bear and even flying through a space station on a jet pack.

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        29.07.2009 09:24
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        Sequel to the very successful Crash Bandicoot 1.

        My dad recently came home with a Playstation 2 he'd been given for nothing by a friend. I decided to use it to whittle down the time that was driving me bonkers in between work and preparing for university and dug out all the Crash Bandicoot games we used to have on the original PS One.

        I stress I'm not a huge video games player as I have little patience and don't always see the appeal in some of the more violent, shooting or racing type affairs. However, what I love about the Crash franchise is that it doesn't take itself seriously. It's a very camp world that is challenging for both young and old audiences alike so I don't feel like I'm playing a child's game when I indulge in it.

        - Introduction -
        Crash Bandicoot 2: Cortex Strikes Back is the subject of this review. Released just in time for Christmas 1997 it was Naughty Dog & Sony's follow up to the hugely successful first game which was released round about the time of the PS One launch. This platform game can be played on a PS2 as I've already mentioned though you will need a memory card from the first generation console to save your progress.

        Crash Bandicoot is the orange marsupial who is the star of the games. He's retreated to a nice, peaceful lifestyle after defeating Cortex in the first game and is only bothered now by his tiresome little sister Coco who is always hacking away on her computer. After pestering Crash to fetch her a new battery for her laptop, you begin a little mini level which ends with you being zapped to a mysterious warp room where Cortex reveals himself. He states that he needs the player's help to gather 25 crystals that are scattered throughout various periods of time [that can be reached through the warp rooms]. He ends by saying that the fate of the world depends on using these crystals to stop a force that will destroy the universe.

        You're then left to gather the crystals even though the player is fully aware that Cortex is just using Crash to gather the crystals for his own evil deeds. Along the way you face many of Cortex's old minions and some new faces as well as the increasingly difficult levels.

        - Graphics & Music -
        Crash 2 was released 12 years ago so the graphics are not going to be as brilliant as the console offerings available today, however they are still easy to adjust to and very attractive. The majority of levels are based on a limited 3D environment and a 2D side scrolling environment. There is also the return of the 'chase' levels from the first game in which a boulder chases Crash and the level sees them rolling towards the camera. This is also done with a giant polar bear! I do find the chase levels extremely irritating as the bear riding ones as you are unable to go back if you miss anything which means you'll have to commit suicide in order to redo a certain portion again.

        There's not a lot of difference between the graphics from the last game. The levels are often very colourful and vibrant and very over the top whilst maintaining an air of realism. They work well with the obstacles and various additions to each level though I have encountered a few glitches at times such as Crash will jump somewhere and become stuck causing the game to freeze for several moments.

        The music is also similar to the game's predecessor and will irritate you muchly unless you turn the volume down! It's very cheerful and annoying music that plays on a loop and particularly in some of the less hazardous levels, it's very straight forward and boring.

        - Features -
        Crash 2 contains 25 levels spread across 5 warp rooms for Crash to face. Amongst these levels are the typical wood like area, a snow infested land, a water based level and the exploration of a space station, a sewer and a set of ancient ruins amongst other things. Crash must gather a crystal from each level and upon collecting 5 from a warp room he can progress to the next using the platform in the middle of the room. On the way to the next warp room you will encounter one of Cortex's main cronies such as Ripper Roo, N.Gin or new character Tiny, who will serve as the game's bosses. However, they are pretty easy to defeat and you'll soon get the idea of what to do once you've studied them a few times.

        As well as crystals, gems are also available. There are 42 in the game and each level provides a clear gem for breaking all the crates within it. However, you can also gain other clear gems and one of the five coloured gems by taking secret platforms, beating timers or unlocking secret levels. Collecting all of the gems will unlock an alternative ending. A lot of them are fairly easy though you will need a lot of patience and skill at navigating through Crash's world to gather the whole lot.

        Crash himself is armed with some new moves to make the game more interesting. He can jump higher, slide under crates or into foes, perform a very effective body slam or simply just crouch. It's worthwhile practising with all of these moves at the start of the game as they will be required at some point in order to progress.

        As well as simply working your way through each level and defeating foes, there are a number of vehicles or extras to help Crash out. Navigate a very tricky jet ski, an over excitable polar bear, a very frustrating jet pack which took me ages to navigate or be chased by bees that just can't wait to stick their stingers into you.

        The game has also added new crates to help or hinder you. The green Nitro boxes are the worst crate in the game and the creators whore them out like nobody's business in order to complicate your game play. They explode upon the slightest touch and take your life in the process. [However, with an Aku Aku mask they will just steal that]. There's also the strange blue boxes with a cross on. These can only be broken using the body slam technique and will usually contain 1 or a bunch of wumpa fruit, the game's currency.

        You can also save the game for the first time with four slots available on your memory card. This is a welcome addition as the password function on Crash 1 was very pointless and irritating and often meant you took two steps back everytime you ceased game play.

        - Conclusion -
        Crash Bandicoot 2 is innocent and harmless fun. Children can enjoy collecting the easy crystals whilst adults can experience the far more difficult aspect of adding the gems alongside them. The levels range from easy to moderate difficulty, but with various secret passageways and additions there's something to keep most average game players occupied for a few days at least. It's not a ground breaking game but it has very little flaws making it a solid, gaming experience that will just work well at passing the time. You'll find that you really do get involved with game and get frustrated at the annoying foes that randomly just kill you as well as with taking the secret gem paths and confronting their dangers. With the addition of Cortex and other character's cheesy, yet hilarious voices, Crash Bandicoot 2: Cortex Strikes Back brings together vast and colourful locations, loveable and interesting characters and a good truckload of game play that places it miles ahead of it's predecessor.

        If you enjoy this check out Crash Bandicoot 3: Warped. The later additions to the Game Boy Advance and Wii are awful so don't even waste money on them despite the better graphics. Nostalgia is where it's at and this could be a great tool for keeping the kids occupied in the summer holidays and can be picked up from Amazon for about £6 or £ 7 shipping included.

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      • Product Details

        The evil Dr Neo Cortex is back... out this time, to save the world? He's asking for help from his arch-nemesis Crash Bandicoot? Is this just a conniving plan to lure Crash into another dastardly experiment? Can Crash win again or will he join Cortex's mindless zoo?