Review: Crash Bandicoot 2: Cortex Strikes Back (Playstation)

In this review, we check out the second game in the main Crash bandicoot adventure series, Crash Bandicoot 2: Cortex Strikes Back.

This particular game was released in 1997 and would be a follow-up to the original Crash Bandicoot game. In spite of the barely passing score, we decided to give this sequel a try to see if there was any improvement over the previous game.

A lot of the characteristics from the previous game are present in this game. You still have the spin attack. There are still gems you can collect. The levels are still very linear with the occasional split in the path. You are still running away from a giant bolder in some levels. There is even the box breaking score where you get a bonus for breaking every box in the level (retained from the previous game).

What is notable is the inclusion of small square areas in those paths that allow you to fight a mini-boss (at the beginning levels). Another addition to this game are the jet pack levels (later levels).

I think a major improvement in this game is the inclusion of cutscenes between some levels. It adds some depth to the game as the plotline develops. I actually wish there wasn’t the beginning cutscene where everything is pretty much given away before you even tackle the first level. That really took away from some of the positives that these cutscenes added to the game.

One attribute that was a major departure from the previous game is the inclusion of warp zones that allow characters to choose from a small selection of levels as the advance throughout the game. This seemed to be a system other games were putting in place such as Turok – Dinosaur Hunter and Diddy Kong Racing. So, while a new feature, an element that other games were implementing at the time already. It is worth noting that there are boss battles between warp zones.

Crash also has an additional set of moves. There’s the ground pound move and the slide attack move. Interesting additions, though I can’t help but think these new features are merely the way game designers are playing catch-up to other games since Super Mario 64 had implemented these moves and more just a year earlier.

I’m personally of two minds on this game. On the one hand, there are a lot of improvements over the previous game to be found here. On the other hand, a lot of these improvements seem to be more in keeping up with other games already made or being made to varying degrees of success.

Positive improvements are the small arena’s Crash jumps in to fight some monsters. Another improvement was the inclusion of more bonus areas. There was also small added elements that make gameplay more interesting like the jet pack levels or the levels with the firefly to keep your path lit for limited periods of time.

The negatives in this game include the over-reliance of a linear path that spans from the beginning part of the level to the end. Another negative was the re-use of portions of levels such as the floating electrical cable sections, the dock that leads to a small moving platform which leads to a platform on the left hand side. There’s the first platform on each bonus area that is often re-used. As you play along, there’s a fair bit of what appears to be copy pasted course designs. It cheapened the gameplay.

Graphically, this is where a number of improvements came from. There’s the inclusion of small subtle animations like Crash sighing when you haven’t moved him around for a little bit. While the victory dance was kind of funny at first, you realize that this is the only victory dance he has. So, every time you beat a boss or locate a white gem, he’ll give the exact same dance over and over again.The cutscenes where Cortext appears in the middle of a warp room was a nice addition. While there were improvements overall, the rest of the industry seemed to be moving along a bit faster than what was put into this game. This game was released on a year when games like Extreme-G and Diddy Kong Racing were out. So, while I can appreciate the small improvements, I’m not sure I can give an improved score in this front over the previous game.

Audio was an improvement. There were a few somewhat memorable tracks such as the one heard in the sewer environment. Other tracks were decent enough, but I’m not sure how much they would fall into the memorable category as after playing the game, the music seems to fade away for me. The sound effects were decent enough.

Overall, this game does make strides to keep up with other industry standards at the time. While the improvements are appreciable, there were other more impressive games found in the market that were released that year. There is some fun to be had here, but I can’t say I’m entirely motivated to play this game again after completing it. So, I find this game to be a play once and forget about it after game.

Overall

Furthest point in game: Beat game with 10 white gems.

General gameplay: 14/25
Replay value: 4/10
Graphics: 6/10
Audio: 3/5

Overall rating: 54%

Drew Wilson on Twitter: @icecube85



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