Top 10 Boss Fights

Every Crash game worth its salt has some wicked bosses who try to impede the bandicoot's progress. Luckily, they're not very good at their jobs, and a lot of their fights are fun to play more than once.

Today I'm going to be talking about my personal favorite bosses. As with any subject covered in this blog, this list is entirely subjective, and in fact, I encourage you to leave a comment with your personal favorites so everyone can talk about why they agree or disagree with the following entries and their placement.

A few things before we get started:

  • There will be UNMARKED SPOILERS for the entire series from here on out. Read at your own risk.
  • I will be evaluating these fights based on their uniqueness, presentation, and the overall entertainment they provide me with;
  • I'm only including fights from the platforming games;

Here we go then... number ten!

#10 - Cortex (Crash: Mind Over Mutant)

For as much as I don't like Mind Over Mutant, there's a certain upbeat vibe that I find enjoyable about some encounters. The game never takes itself seriously, so even the final boss fight feels like crashing into a party you weren't invited to. It reuses a concept we've seen before with Nitrus Brio, but this time it's Cortex who drinks the mutagenetic formula and turns into a green, hulking monster wearing little more than his underwear. Cue shenanigans.

The music, which starts out energetic and frequently dips into a more laid-back groove, is a good fit for the fight (even if it just turns into a series of generically dramatic towards the end). It's an adequate — if unsynchronized — mirror to the fight's multiple stages. After you knock out Cortex with the help of the mutants that spawn in the arena, you get to control him and, in true Mind Over Mutant fashion, use all of his attacks to defeat the remaining mutants. It only lasts for a few seconds, but mutant Cortex is a hoot, and his spin attack puts Crash's to shame. I could have done without the gratuitous flatulence, though.

The last third of the fight is a short segment where you need to guide Cortex to perform the biggest belly-flop in the entire series, putting his space station out of commission and ending the game. It's a pretty unusual way to end a boss fight (especially the very last one in the game), and it gets points for creativity.

#9 - Dingodile (Crash Bandicoot WARPED)

Most bosses in Crash 2 and WARPED have emblematic intros that give us a fun bit of insight to these characters' personalities, and Dingodile is no exception. Before he gets the chance to turn an innocent penguin into a pile of ash just for kicks, Dingodile is interrupted by Crash's sudden arrival, and the hybrid freak gives us the eternal quote: "Bring out the butter... Gonna make toast!"

Dingodile is creative not only as a character, but also as a boss. Using crystalline barriers to protect himself, he stands out of reach at the center of the arena, and there's nothing you can do about it besides running from the fireballs he launches. The interesting bit comes when you need to lure him into destroying his own barriers, creating a gap for Crash to squeeze through and whooping his crocodile tail.

The one thing that places Dingodile so low on this list is how the double jump (which you get from defeating him) makes this fight absurdly easy in every subsequent run, since you can simply leap over the protective barriers and defeat him in a matter of seconds. Too bad he doesn't have the foresight of torching Crash when you do this.

After you thrash Dingodile, it's always fun to see the little penguin getting his revenge by jumping on his back. If it's your first time defeating him, you can join in on the fun too!

#8 - Ripper Roo (Crash Bandicoot)

Now here's an interesting fight with a timing-based premise. The battle takes place near a waterfall, and since Crash can't swim, your only safe spots are the 9 tiles arranged in a tic-tac-toe formation. Ripper Roo constantly jumps between these tiles. You can't touch him without getting hurt, but he follows predictable patterns that are easy to memorize, so it's a bit of a puzzle boss from the get-go.

The timing mechanic comes from the big TNT crates that keep falling in the water. Since each of them is slowly drifting towards the bottom of the screen, you have limited time to light a fuse before the crate is gone, which will cost you time and potentially put you in danger. If you figure out Ripper Roo's current jumping pattern and time things just right, you can make him get caught in the explosion.

It may take you a few tries to succeed, but it's a fair puzzle boss that relies on more than the usual "run away from his attacks until he's vulnerable" shtick. He also laughs madly when he gets hurt, and it's kind of contagious.

#7 - N. Gin (Crash Bandicoot 2)

N. Gin's fights are always a lot of fun (or they used to be back in the PS1 days). His debut in Crash Bandicoot 2 sets itself apart from the remaining boss fights by introducing a shooting mechanic that isn't seen anywhere else in the game. Rather than spinning or using Crash's other attacks, you'll be chucking fruit at N. Gin's hovering robot of destruction.

The robot has three distinct phases, all with different weak points. You basically have to shoot where the robot is going to shoot from. Luckily for you, N. Gin exposes these vulnerabilities whenever he's not attacking, so it's just a matter of persistence (and not getting hit with a missile in the head; that didn't work out too well for N. Gin).

One thing I hate about this fight is the lack of an animation for throwing fruit. Crash does absolutely nothing as you shoot (in fact, you can even make him stand in place and face the camera as the fruit comes out of... somewhere). This is something I'm hoping to see fixed in the N. Sane Trilogy, because it really hurts the fight's presentation.

Still, it's a good example of a boss that's both challenging and fair. N. Gin telegraphs all of his moves, so if you're quick on your feet and keep a safe distance, you'll know what to do to dodge his attacks and send his robot to the junkyard. Maybe next time he should focus on building one that isn't weak against soft fruit.

#6 - Dr. Nitrus Brio (Crash Bandicoot)

Besides a chilling atmosphere and an equally cool music track, Nitrus Brio has some tricks befitting his late placement in the original game. The stuttering doctor always has a couple of beakers in hand, and he won't hesitate to blow them up in your face if you dare to get close to him. Your only choice is to retreat to a safe distance and watch as he does his stuff.

Brio's fight is a bit unusual. Besides having more health than most bosses, a lot of it is tied to the jumping puddles of jelly that form from the beakers he throws. Simply spinning them away doesn't work, but for each one you jump on, you'll take away a bit of health from the oblong-headed scientist. I can only assume this represents his patience, because while it doesn't hurt him directly, Brio decides to change course when he's down to 3 hit points.

One thing Brio should work on is the taste of his mutagenetic ooze, because he doesn't seem too pleased whenever he chugs down the stuff. On the other hand, it does give him a large, monstrous torso, so it all evens out. When he's in monster form, Brio starts smashing up the place and comes right for you. Quickly jump on the fallen debris and bop him in the head to teach him that winners don't do mutagen.

Hopefully you won't run into a rare glitch that makes Brio invincible, or else you'll have the displeasure of helplessly watching him move faster and faster. Seriously, what's in those beakers of his?

#5 - Tiny Tiger (Crash Bandicoot 2)

You can't really talk about Crash bosses without bringing up this lovable oaf. The moment Tiny growls and rips that metal door apart is unforgettable, and it perfectly sets the mood for the fight while letting you know you're just not going to tackle this beast directly unless you've been taking your protein.

The arena is essentially shaped like Ripper Roo's in the previous game, but instead of setting up traps, you're constantly on the move and luring Tiny into them. The big thylacine follows you wherever you go, so the idea is to hop across the platforms that randomly turn red and fall down to make Tiny miss the jump.

True to his character, Tiny is a mountain of muscles with no brains, so he never learns from his mistakes. On the other hand, each time he takes damage, less platforms will start falling down. This is interesting because the fight remains challenging for different reasons — at first it's easy to fall into your own trap because of too many falling platforms, but by the end, only one of them will fall down, so you need to lure Tiny to that specific spot at the right time, requiring quick reflexes and dexterity. It's a simple concept, yet brilliantly executed.

The presentation makes it all even better. The music urges you to keep moving, and there are several neat details all around, from Tiny hilariously trying to stay airborne after he misses a jump to lab assistants going up and down in a nearby elevator, along with a couple of spotlights that always focus on Tiny and Crash for no reason. And who hasn't jumped off a platform just before Crash does his victory dance? The way he falls down with Tiny right after his triumphant pose is always good for a laugh. More like Irony Tiger, eh? I'll show myself out.

#4 - The Evil Twins (Crash Twinsanity)

Crash games aren't exactly known for being "epic", but if there ever was a moment that came close to it, I'd say it's the fight against the Evil Twins. You've spent several minutes trying to find them in their stronghold, fighting a horde of vicious robots and doing your best not to fall prey to the many traps adorning the place. Now that you've finally reached these two overwhelmingly powerful foes, they... ignore their psychic powers to fight you in a giant robot? Oh. Well that was unexpected.

Truthfully, I found it a bit disappointing to be fighting another robot at first, but the presentation (if nothing else) makes up for it. For instance, it has great music that gets more and more intense as the fight goes on, but it still manages to get silly near the end like the rest of the soundtrack. As of the time of this writing, it's also the only fight in the entire series where you switch between characters to take the boss down (Nina, Cortex, and Mecha-Bandicoot — no Crash, surprisingly!), and that alone is pretty cool for a change. This also makes the boss a bit lengthy by Crash standards, as each phase gives it a separate health bar.

The fight itself is far from perfect. Besides an issue with Nina latching on to rings differently than she did before, each phase is anti-climatically easier than the previous one. You also have to do a lot of button mashing as Cortex, which gets old fast. The coolest part about the boss is playing as Mecha-Bandicoot, which previously served as the game's second boss, but even that is disappointing because you won't ever get hit by the boss's sluggish attacks unless you do it on purpose. Still, despite all its flaws, I deeply appreciate this boss fight for trying different things as well as having a musical theme that really pumps me up. If the execution was done right, this entry would surely sit at the top.

#3 - Dr. Neo Cortex (Crash Bandicoot WARPED)

Although I love a good old-fashioned mano-a-mano brawl as much as the next person, I've always had a soft spot for battles involving multiple events and characters. This is a big part of why I love the last boss in Crash Bandicoot WARPED. It's no longer just Crash and Cortex anymore. While these two are busy trying to defeat each other, a separate fight is occurring simultaneously as Aku Aku fends off Uka Uka. Both masks are equally matched, but while Aku Aku might have good intentions, the ensuing kerfuffle between him and his brother is so intense that you don't want to get caught in the middle. I found this out the hard way, as I just stood there staring in awe like an idiot the first time I saw them in the midst of a beam struggle. Hope you like your bandicoot extra crispy!

Staying out of the masks' way spices up an otherwise mundane battle. Every time you take a chunk off Cortex's health bar, they change up their attacks, and you have to figure out a new way to stay safe. Meanwhile, Cortex is doing his usual routine and trying to zap you with his ray gun, but you can't hit him until his shield goes down. This happens whenever he throws mines around the place, which can be tricky to dodge if you're not used to them.

Arguably the most fun part of the fight is giving Cortex a few good smacks while he's lying helplessly on the ground. It's quite cathartic to send him down the hole at the center of the arena, and if you've got time to spare, you can bounce on his huge head like a trampoline. It doesn't do anything, but come on, admit it — you've always wanted to do that.

Boinga, boinga, boinga!

#2 - N. Tropy (Crash Bandicoot WARPED)

I never realized until now that WARPED's bosses are some of my favorite things about the game. N. Tropy's fight is pretty basic in execution: just dodge his projectiles and hit him when he's vulnerable. However, the way it tests your reflexes makes up for a fun battle, and to dodge N. Tropy's plasma orbs, you'll need to use two moves that are ignored in every other fight in the series (crouching and high-jumping). I also like the idea of making my way across the room by using the tile formations that appear when N. Tropy gets frustrated.

In all honesty, I think the whole thing would have been more fun if N. Tropy's projectiles and the stepping tile formations were randomized. But like the Evil Twins, a big part of why I still like to revisit this fight every so often is thanks to the presentation. The music is great, and the way the scenery changes every time you hit N. Tropy is neat to look at, as if you really keep traveling between different eras.

Also, and unlike Dingodile in the same game, if you try to cheat by using super-powers to reach N. Tropy early, he just disintegrates you with his tuning fork. This is completely unexpected and hilarious the first time you do it, and it's a good way to preserve the challenge in subsequent runs.

#1 - Chimera (Mind Over Mutant DS)

I know it's cliché to end this list with the Chimera, but I can't think of any other way to do it. The Chimera is the quintessential boss fight that puts every other entry to shame. This giant, flying Frankenstein mutant makes my jaw drop every time I fight it. The moment it appears out of nowhere with no explanation is a testament to how great a character it is, being shrouded in mystery and sporting a design that's, frankly, amazing. And it just gets better from here.

The fight itself is a fun, fair challenge. The Chimera's attacks can pretty much kill you instantly, and it's a damage sponge itself. It tests your reflexes and surprises you when you least expect it. I think the developers were aware of how enjoyable this fight is, because they gave the Chimera the ability to regenerate its entire health bar once you finally master the game's pièce de résistance. Sometimes it even does that randomly, and there's no way to prevent it, making it a top contender for the best challenge designed in a Crash game period.

I think my favorite thing about the Chimera is that you don't even stand a chance if you're not carrying a mutant with you. Personally, I prefer not to use mutants so the fight doesn't become too easy. Again, I think the developers knew people would resort to such an exploit, so there are no mutants in the arena at all, meaning you'll have to go back to a previous level and get one if you really want the easy way out. All in all, there's no doubt that THE CHIMERA SUCKS. THIS IS THE WORST BOSS FIGHT I'VE EVER PLAYED IN MY LIFE. IT SHOULD BE ILLEGAL TO DESIGN SOMETHING THIS AWFUL AND RELEASE IT TO THE PUBLIC. I HATE THIS STUPID GAME.


#1 (for real) - N. Gin (Crash Bandicoot WARPED)

I get the feeling not many people will agree with me ranking this boss so high, but what can I say? I just love everything about it. To me, this is proof that unexpected genre switches can be fun when they're done right. The second battle against N. Gin is very unique in a lot of ways, not the least of which is the fact that you're controlling Coco, which is a first in the series.

N. Gin predictably uses his mech to try and take you down, but one thing no one saw coming was the fact that you'd be controlling a vehicle yourself. Using a small spacecraft, you'll be chasing and fighting N. Gin on the moon, which itself is an unusual and interesting setting. The best part lies in the execution, which takes a page from the Star Fox games.

N. Gin throws a barrage of projectiles at you, most of which are fairly difficult to dodge, but thankfully, you do have a health meter, so you can take a considerable amount of hits. N. Gin's weak spots lie in his mech's weapons, but you have a small window of opportunity to shoot them while he's using them, making up for an intense game of cat and mouse. Since each component from N. Gin's mech counts as a hit point, this boss also has a pretty hefty amount of hit points as opposed to the usual 3. And that's not even counting what happens when you think you've won.

After you seemingly destroy N. Gin's mech, he makes a hasty retreat and docks the remains into a separate mech he had on standby. Meanwhile, Coco does the same with another spacecraft piloted by Pura for additional firepower (which is merely cosmetic but looks neat anyway). With a second health bar to deplete and a whole new slew of weapons at his disposal, N. Gin is now completely refreshed and ready for round 2.

If you ask me, it's just a fun, challenging, and cool-looking boss fight that comes with a refreshing change of pace. I also like seeing N. Gin drift off into space in his chair. Byeeeee!

And so we've reached the end of this list. I almost always enjoy boss fights in the Crash Bandicoot series, and even those that didn't make the list are still some of my favorite things in these games. Some of them at least. If comedic value counted, I think Papu Papu would have had the top spot, if only because he can fall on Crash and kill him. Talk about instant karma.

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