After the success of Crash Bandicoot, a sequel was released in 1997. Crash Bandicoot 2: Cortex Strikes Back really set the standard for what Crash is known for. Crash Bandicoot 2 is as old as me, has it held up well?
Crash Bandicoot 2’s gameplay is very similar to Crash Bandicoot 1’s gameplay. The main goal is to traverse each level, collect Crystals, which were introduced in this game as a plot Maguffin, and break boxes to collect gems. The levels in this game are a lot more straight forward and fast compared to Crash Bandicoot 1’s stop and go style. There are also a ton of new enemies and level motifs.
One of the biggest additions to Crash 2 is the addition of the warp room, another thing that became a standard for Crash. The warp room replaces the world map of Crash Bandicoot 1, which required Crash to play each level in order. The warp room lets Crash choose from five levels at a time in any order, giving a small sense of nonlinearity.
Crash Bandicoot 2 has a total of 27 levels, with two of them being secret levels. The main 25 levels each have a crystal in them and at least one gem. There are several hidden gems in the levels along with a gem for breaking all of the boxes.
There are also new types of levels in this game. There are levels where Crash rides a bear in a fast on rails segment, there are night time stages with minimal lighting, there are jetpack riding levels in space, and this game’s river stages have Crash ride a motorized surf board across the river. The level design in Crash Bandicoot 2 are fun and challenging, without being too hard, with the exception of one level. Everybody who has played Crash 2 knows about Cold Hard Crash, the name of a level near the end of the game. This level has a snow motif, and requires Crash to reach a special platform without dying. Once this platform is reached, it takes Crash to the death route. The death routes in Crash 2 are incredibly challenging alternate paths in levels that reward players with a gem. This death route is the epitome of unfair. The death route takes place mainly on ice, and Crash 2’s ice physics are terrible. Crash’s momentum carries him too far on slippery surfaces, especially when jumping. This death route has boxes on it all the way until the end, and there’s a special box at the end of the route that creates a box all the way back at the beginning, requiring Crash to backtrack through the death route, and back onto the main level to get the rest of the boxes. This part of the game made me so close to ragequitting. Other than this level, the gameplay is great.
The controls in Crash 2 are super refined. Crash feels a lot less stiff in this game than in Crash 1. Along with the better feeling, the slide was introduced in this game. The slide lets crash go under hazards and jumping after sliding feels very smooth. The only issues with the controls I have are the ice physics and the sometimes loose bear riding controls, but they aren’t frequently issues in the game. The jetpack controls are fine too, and the ability to invert flight controls is an option. The controls in Crash 2 are fine.
The music in Crash 2 is fantastic. There are a ton of tracks that I know by heart since I’ve been playing this game since childhood. There are no music tracks I don’t love in this game. Crash 2 has always had one of my favorite soundtracks in gaming.
The graphics in Crash 2 are fantastic considering the time the game was released. The 32-bit Playstation was taken to its limit by Naughty Dog and while it’s easy to tell the game is 21 years old now, there are definitely worse looking games. The character and enemy models looked great for the time, and look a lot better than most PS1 models. The colors are vibrant, and the game has a very natural aesthetic to it. The graphics have aged well for a PS1 game.
Crash Bandicoot 2: Cortex Strikes Back is one of my favorite Playstation games. The game is still a blast to play and it looks, controls, and sounds fine for the most part. Crash Bandicoot 2: Cortex Strikes back has aged well.