Crash Bandicoot 2: Cortex Strikes Back is a platform game and the sequel to Crash Bandicoot. It was developed by Naughty Dog for the PlayStation and released in the United States of America on the Halloween of 1997. It was developed by Naughty Dog and published by Sony Computer Entertainment for the PlayStation video game console. It was released in the United States on the Halloween of 1997, and was advertised as the sequel to the 1996 game Crash Bandicoot.
Taking place right after the previous game's events, in which Crash fights Cortex on top of an Airship, Cortex is defeated, and the rocketsled he was standing on explodes! Cortex falls to the ground, and he lands in a mine, where he discovers a large Crystal, and has a flash of inspiration. One year later, he is seen in a space station, being told by his new assistant N. Gin that to harness the Master Crystal's power, he will require an additional 25 "Slave Crystals", which are scattered across the Earth. Cortex then abducts Crash (while he is searching for a spare battery for Coco's laptop) and persuades him to gather the Slave Crystals, telling him that he will use them to harness the power of the aligned planets and prevent Earth from certain doom.
Throughout his quest, Crash is contacted by his sister Coco, who is continuously searching into Cortex's scheme and trying to figure out what Cortex is really using the Crystals for, as well as Cortex's former assistant, Dr. Nitrus Brio, who tells Crash that if he truly wants to save the world, he must collect Gems instead of Crystals, so that Brio may use the Gems to destroy Cortex. He is also Crash's primary opposing force, claiming to use all of his strength to prevent him from gathering crystals.
At the end, when all of the Crystals are collected, Coco reveals that Cortex actually intends to harness the force of the Crystals to turn every single human being on Earth into Cortex's mindless slaves with his new and improved Cortex Vortex, and Crash defeats Cortex once again, banishing him deep into space, but leaving his space station operational. After Crash gathers all 42 Gems, N. Brio uses the Gems to destroy Cortex's space station with a laser beam, temporarily ending Cortex's threat... for now, that is.
Crash Bandicoot 2's gameplay is similar to that of its predecessor, though it introduced a number of significant new elements which would go on to become series staples. Instead of choosing stages from a 3D level map, players must utilise five main Warp Rooms, plus a hidden sixth Warp Room. The five main Warp Rooms contain five levels (which can be visited in any order) and a save screen. The main goal of each level is to obtain the purple, glowing crystal located within. Collection of all five crystals in a given Warp Room will activate the corresponding boss battle, and once the boss is defeated, Crash can travel to the next Warp Room using an elevator system in the center of each Warp Room.
The secret sixth Warp Room contains two secret levels, "Totally Bear" and "Totally Fly", which contain clear gems, but not crystals; and three secondary entrances to previous levels, allowing players to gain access to previously unavailable parts of the level. These exits are accessed by touching trigger points which the player must find via unorthodox level exploration. For example, the player may have to climb a staircase of explosive Nitro crates which suspiciously do not explode when touched, or jump into a pit that seemingly leads to their death. You may also need to land on a platform in "Air Crash" or backtrack from the end of the level in "Un-Bearable". Unlike the other warp rooms, each level in the sixth warp room must be unlocked individually. The sixth warp room cannot be accessed via the in-game elevator (the player instead must reuse one of the secret exits already discovered).
Similar to the first game, players make their way through two distinct level types, a limited 3D environment and a 2D sidescrolling environment, periodically switching the player's perspective. In addition, the classic "chase" stages from the original game, where a player must outrun boulders or giant snowballs rolling towards the camera, as well as a similar level featuring a gigantic polar bear appear.
- Warp Room 1 (N. Sanity Island)
- Turtle Woods (Crystal, Clear Gem and colored gem run: Blue Gem)(Jungle)
- Snow Go (Crystal, Clear Gem and colored gem run: Red Gem)(Snow) *
- Hang Eight (Crystal, Clear Gem 1 and 2)(Waterfall)
- The Pits (Crystal and Clear Gem)(Jungle)
- Crash Dash (Crystal and Clear Gem)(Boulder)
- Ripper Roo (Waterfall)
- Warp Room 2 (Wumpa Island)
- Snow Biz (Crystal and Clear Gem)(Snow)
- Air Crash (Crystal, Clear Gem 1 and 2)(Waterfall) *
- Bear It (Crystal, Clear Gem)(Bear)
- Crash Crush (Crystal and Clear Gem)(Boulder)
- The Eel Deal (Crystal, Clear Gem and colored run gem: Green Gem)(Sewer)
- The Komodo Brothers
- Warp Room 3 (Pinstripe's Lair)
- Plant Food (Crystal, Clear Gem and colored run gem: Yellow Gem)(Waterfall)
- Sewer or Later (Crystal, Clear Gem 1 and 2)(Sewer)
- Bear Down (Crystal and Clear Gem)(Bear)
- Road to Ruin (Crystal, Clear Gem 1 and 2)(Ruins) *
- Unbearable (Crystal and Clear Gem)(Boulder)
- Tiny Tiger (Space Station)
- Warp Room 4 (Lower Part of Cortex Castle)
- Hangin' Out (Crystal and Clear Gem)(Sewer)
- Diggin' It (Crystal, Clear Gem 1 and 2) (Forest)
- Cold Hard Crash (Crystal, Clear Gem 1 and 2)(Snow)
- Ruination (Crystal, Clear Gem 1 and 2)(Ruins)
- Bee-having (Crystal, Clear Gem 1 and 2) (Forest)
- Doctor N. Gin (Space Station)
- Warp Room 5 (Cortex Space Station)
- Piston it Away (Crystal, Clear Gem 1 and 2)(Space Station)
- Rock It (Crystal and Clear Gem)(Jet Pack)
- Night Fight (Crystal, Clear Gem 1 and 2)(Jungle)
- Pack Attack (Crystal and Clear Gem)(Jet Pack)
- Spaced Out (Crystal, Clear Gem 1 and 2)(Space Station)
- Doctor Neo Cortex (Jet Pack)
- Warp Room 6 (Cortex Castle Ruins)
- Totally Bear (Clear Gem)(Bear) **
- Totally Fly (Clear Gem)(Jungle) **