For some nostalgic gamers, Crash Bandicoot will always be the king of platformers. If you cut your gaming teeth on the original PlayStation, you’ll have all kinds of fond memories of the classic trio Crash Bandicoot, Crash Bandicoot 2: Cortex Strikes Back and Crash Bandicoot: Warped.
Whether you remember the games from back in the day or you discovered them with the Crash Bandicoot N. Sane Trilogy, you’ll probably know that they’re defined by platforming gauntlets and deviously-placed TNT and Nitro traps. The boss battles in the trilogy (and the wider series) are more of a mixed bag, but we’re going to take a look at the best and worst of them now.
10 BEST: Doctor N. Gin (Crash Bandicoot: Warped)
As we just pointed out, the Crash games are notorious for their fiendish extra paths, death routes and super challenging bonus levels. Their Dark Souls difficulty doesn’t tend to extend to the bosses, which often aren’t the most challenging or creative. The brilliant Doctor N. Gin is usually an exception to this, though.
As Cortex’s resident brilliant engineer, N. Gin devised an amazing machine with which to do battle with you. The player controls Coco for this battle, in a spacecraft of her own, and things take a shoot ‘em up turn. The weak points of your enemy’s craft are brightly colored, obvious and a ton of fun to blast at, while N. Gin’s attacks are varied and keep the player on their toes.
9 WORST: Papu Papu (Crash Bandicoot)
The Crash games are challenging platformers to a one, and will certainly stretch you if you’re seeking to collecting everything they have to offer. Of the original trilogy, the first game is often considered the hardest, but Papu Papu doesn’t seem to have gotten that memo.
Granted, he’s the first boss in the whole game, so the match wasn’t going to be like fighting the Hulk armed only with a Pez dispenser. His attack pattern is just a little too simplistic, though, and he doesn’t have strict moments of vulnerability. Just let him do slow, awkward clockwise or counter-clockwise sweeps of the room and jump on his head a couple of times.
8 BEST: Doctor N. Gin (Crash Bandicoot 2: Cortex Strikes Back)
That’s right, friends, it’s our old friend Rocket Man again (no, not Elton John, the other one). Some fans may dispute this battle being one of the best in the series, but it offered a genuine challenge that completely flipped the rulebook as players knew it.
Crash didn’t have a spacecraft of his own to do battle with N. Gin’s, and the devious doctor’s craft wasn’t vulnerable to jumps or spins either. Crash could only attack by throwing Wumpa Fruit into the screen (an action he can only perform in this battle) as N. Gin flies just behind him. Huge, glowing, just-ruin-my-life-here weak points were the order of the day again, in a boss battle that was slower and more methodical.
7 Nitros Oxide (Crash Team Racing)
Naughty Dog’s fantastic kart racer Crash Team Racing offered something the mighty Mario Kart never has: a story mode. This called for a throwaway and brilliantly ridiculous plot, with an equally throwaway and ridiculous villain. In this case, Nitros Oxide (an invading alien from the planet Gasmoxia) has challenged the greatest driver on the planet to race for the sake of the world, so everybody sets out to determine who will represent them.
Boss battles are a difficult concept for a kart racer, but Crash Team Racing pulled it off. The hardest of them was Oxide himself, who the player battles on his home track: Oxide Station. He’s super fast, litters the track will an array of items and has to be taken on again after the player has nabbed all the collectibles for the best ending.
6 BEST: Doctor Neo Cortex And Uka Uka (Crash Bandicoot: Warped)
While Doctor N. Cortex seems to be the main villain of the piece in the Crash Bandicoot universe, we see in Warped that it is actually Uka Uka who is pulling the strings. This malevolent spirit is Aku Aku’s twin brother, as committed to the dark side as his sibling is to the light.
Both help their respective characters throughout the game, fighting alongside each other in the final boss battle. As Crash fights Cortex in the small arena, the player has to maneuver around Aku Aku and Uka Uka, who are waging a separate battle to subdue each other at the same time. It’s another unique battle, seeing the player dodging Cortex’s blaster shots and mines while also predicting the movements of the masks (which emit various different kinds of shockwaves as they clash which will incinerate Crash immediately).
5 WORST: Tiny Tiger (Crash Bandicoot 2: Cortex Strikes Back)
Now, there’s no doubt that this is a creative boss battle. The hulking beast that is Tiny Tiger confronts Crash in a curious arena that consists of a number of floating platforms. He relentlessly jumps from platform to platform after the player, while said platforms slowly sink to the ground and rise again in sequence.
The player’s goal is to predict Tiny’s movements and ensure that he lands on a platform as it sinks, which will damage him as he falls. It’s a neat idea, but it’s all too easy to panic and lose control of the match. It can be frustratingly time-consuming and ‘random’ trying to make Tiny lose that last slither of health, and being backed into a corner by his Chrysler Building-sized hurtbox, taking a hit and having to restart from the beginning is not fun for anybody concerned.
4 BEST: Monster (Crash Bandicoot: The Huge Adventure)
You might know this monstrosity better as Mega-Mix, or you might not know the darn thing at all. It’s very obscure as Crash bosses go, after all, being hidden away at the end of 2002 Game Boy Advance title Crash Bandicoot: The Huge Adventure.
What in the name of sweet cream cheese are you looking at here? A bizarre accidental splicing of Dingodile, Tiny Tiger, N. Gin and Cortex, that’s what. This boss battle unlocks when every other collectible in the game has been nabbed, and consists of a super difficult just-run-away-from-the-hideous-thing-before-it-uses-your-limbs-as-chew-toys ‘battle’ (think Monster Ock at the end of Spider-Man PS1). It’s memorable, if nothing else.
3 WORST: Pinstripe (Crash Bandicoot)
Now, this one stings a little, as it’s tough to put Pinstripe in the worst category of… anything, really. He’s a gangster potoroo in a pinstripe suit, and that’s something we could all use a little more of in our lives. Sadly, though, the mechanics of the battle itself just don’t stand up to the winning concept.
Pinstripe fires his tommy gun at Crash while cackling maniacally. Crash remains completely safe while crouching behind the furniture in Pinstripe’s office, dashing out to spin attack the potoroo as he hops across the screen to reload. Repeat far too many times (he’s got quite the health bar). That’s it.
2 BEST: Crunch/Wa Wa (Crash Bandicoot: The Wrath Of Cortex)
For many fans, the original trilogy was the golden age of Crash and the franchise just couldn’t produce the same magic afterwards. This isn’t to say that it didn’t still offer some creative and engaging boss battles, though.
Drain Damage is the second boss stage of Crash Bandicoot: The Wrath Of Cortex. In it, our hero takes on Crunch and Wa Wa, the water spirit. There’s just so much to contend with here, from ground and air attacks to shockwaves, water and disappearing platforms. This difficult battle consists of four phases, and it’s only the second in the game!
1 WORST: Doctor Neo Cortex (Crash Bandicoot 2: Cortex Strikes Back)
Well, it’s lucky that Cortex got his supervillain act together and provided a fun final battle in Warped, because he was as tough and scary as a happy, snoring kitten dreaming about belly-rubs at the end of Cortex Strikes Back.
This infamous boss battle wasn't worthy of the name. All the player has to do is follow Cortex (who is flying back to his space station on a jetpack with the crystals in tow) along a simple path, dodge a few obstacles and spin into him three times. It’s such an anti-climax.