Crash Bandicoot 2: Cortex Strikes Back was released in 1997 as a sequel to Crash Bandicoot which was released the year before. Crash 2 holds a very special place in my heart as it has the honor of being the first Playstation game that I ever owned and it was also the first game I booted up on my console in the summer of 1999. Because of this I will attempt to hold back my fanboy esque rantings about what could be my favourite game of all time.
Developed once again by Naughty Dog, Crash Bandicoot 2 took all of the best mechanics from the first game and improved on them. The result was a very polished platformer with the best graphical engine on the Playstation at the time which quickly outsold its predecessor.
Much like the first game, Crash 2 has you controlling Crash Bandicoot through various levels in different settings. This time around, instead of just completing the levels you are tasked with finding 25 crystals throughout 25 levels. In addition to these 25 crystals, there are various other gems that you can collect, most of the time by collecting every box within a level. This extra incentive adds a great deal of depth to the game and makes attempting to achieve a 100% quite challenging.
The premise is simple, there are 5 main warp rooms with 5 levels each, once all 5 crystals are collected you proceed to a boss fight which then grants you access to the next warp room. The 25 levels range from Jungles all the way to futuristic space stations giving a great sense of variety throughout the game.
There is nothing quite like entering the level ‘Turtle Woods’ and hearing the iconic tune that has since become synonymous with Crash. Finding the fabled ‘sixth’ warp room had to be one of the best moments I have had while playing video games, in fact the amount of secrets in this game is astounding. Secret passageways, Secret bonus rounds and even secret levels are hidden away within some pretty strange places which makes them harder to find yet also a joy when you happen upon them. In addition the level of difficulty is quite astounding at times, but it just drives you to try and try again, all in the name of retrieving that last crystal!
All in all Crash 2 is to me the best game within the Crash Bandicoot series, and the best game that was released for the Playstation 1. It provides a great amount of joy, frustration, nostalgia and a great sense of immersion which makes it one of the odd games that appeal both to young kids and also adults as you just don’t get this kind of difficulty any more in modern games.