The Crash Bandicoot Plot Holes

Crash Bandicoot has never tried to be famous for its story. The plot in each game tends to be an excuse to employ the assorted characters and gameplay mechanics we all know and love, and sometimes love to hate. In spite of the story being relegated to the background (or perhaps because of it), there are quite a few narrative elements that don't really mesh together, even when they're confined to the series' own wacky rules. And so, plot holes are born. A lot of them mask-related!

We're going to look at some egregious plot holes found in the Crash Bandicoot games. The rules are simple: for something to be considered a plot hole, it needs to contradict previously established rules or events, explicitly or otherwise. That's all there is to it, so here we go!

Uka Uka on Ice

We'll kick this off with one of the more well-known examples. If you've played through Crash Twinsanity, you'll know that Cortex and Uka Uka are both trapped in an ice block before the game begins, doomed to float in the sea until they finally arrive at the warm shores of N. Sanity Beach. We're left to assume that Cortex defrosts and sets his new plan in motion, though Uka Uka remains conspicuously absent for a good while, until you finally meet him trapped in an ice wall within the bowels of Cortex's Iceberg Lab.

So how did Uka Uka get there? One theory is that Cortex, having been freed from the ice before his spiteful companion did, saw the opportunity to get rid of him and encased him inside the iceberg. I subscribe to this theory myself, but I can't deny that something's amiss. It seems like a pretty important detail to just leave to the player's imagination, and it doesn't make complete sense, since Cortex is still surprised to see Uka Uka there.

But hey, ocean currents are a heck of a thing, right?

Brainwashing Dingodile

The premise in Crash Nitro Kart involves a good old-fashioned alien abduction, with our racers being transported all the way to an otherworldly coliseum. Emperor Velo immediately reveals himself to be the perpetrator of this very rude summons, and he promptly presents some of the rivals whom Team Bandicoot and Team Cortex will be racing against. At this point, you may notice that Dingodile is standing alongside N. Trance's squad of brainwashed subjects, wearing a hypnotizing helmet and looking ready to race.

There is just one problem with this...

Less than a minute prior, Dingodile had been seen assisting N. Gin in Cortex's castle, so when this piece of evil architecture was brought into the coliseum along with its denizens, it stands to reason that Dingodile would have remained inside until everyone got out. This all happens in a very short amount of time; far too short for the egg-shaped hypnotist to sneak in, capture Dingodile, and bring him to the coliseum as part of his team.

Hmm... But what if N. Trance was just hypnotizing us viewers into thinking Dingodile was in Cortex's castle to begin with?

The Power Crystals

This is relatively minor, but the justification for Warped's time-traveling antics comes from the need to get the power crystals from other time periods, as Cortex & ChumsTM are no longer able to acquire them in the present (I assume they were lost in space or something). The only problem here is that most other games that came out later disregard this entirely, so now you can't go out on a stroll without tripping on a mystical pink jewel, despite the fact that it should no longer be out in the wild.

Adding to this, it's never really explained why some of the crystals can actually be found in the distant future. Sure, it's not impossible to come up with endless theories about this, but when the game hammers in the point that the crystals have been lost for good, you have to wonder how much attention the writers were paying to their own story. It's almost like it was just an excuse to have Crash traveling through time or something!

Uka Uka's Instructions to Cortex

Perhaps this is best described as a plot contrivance, but it does stand out too much not to be included here. Up until Warped, Cortex had always been responsible for the megalomaniac schemes that threatened to enslave mankind, kick-starting Crash's role as his arch-nemesis and savior of the day. As far as we knew at that point, Cortex had always acted of his own accord, being very much in control of the situation until the moment Crash decided to intervene. Warped added Uka Uka as a bigger force that had supposedly been instructing Cortex how to act out these plans, but it didn't really add up, and Uka Uka felt thoroughly shoehorned.

It's a bit hard to play along and act like Uka Uka's been helping Cortex all along, because there are too many things that don't make a lot of sense. If Uka Uka was aware that crystals were necessary to carry his and Cortex's plans, why didn't he inform his balding scientist lackey? After all, Cortex found the first crystal by pure chance, and he had no prior intention of searching for them.

More importantly, why didn't Cortex try to set Uka Uka free? The obvious answer is because he's afraid of him and doesn't really want to be bossed around, but the question then becomes: why didn't Uka Uka punish him for it? Cortex couldn't have simply pretended to lack the means to set the evil spirit free, since they both saw just how effective a relatively small explosion was. Even if this was the case, Uka Uka had nothing to gain from telling someone else to conquer the world for him... not if he was still imprisoned. And I don't think he'd be foolish enough to believe a selfish world conqueror would later decide to release him to keep his end of the bargain.

Then, of course, you have the simple matter of Crash 2's ending being retconned. Instead of the Cortex Vortex being blown to bits, it's suddenly intact (albeit out of commission and zooming towards Earth). Instead of Cortex laughing for some mysterious reason, he inadvertently unleashes his greatest fear. Kind of a 180º turn there, ain't it?

The Elementals' Hibernation

In keeping with the franchise's tradition, The Wrath of Cortex tasks you with finding purple crystals. Contrary to what their appearance would suggest, these aren't just any old Power Crystals. No, these are Elemental Crystals, which exist specifically for the purpose of putting those fiendish Elementals back to sleep. There are 4 Elementals that require a total of 5 crystals each. So, naturally, you have to collect 20 of them throughout the game, right?


For some reason, there are actually 25 Elemental crystals, meaning there are 5 additional ones that never serve any purpose. You're never told why you're getting them, and we can only assume they're spares of some sort. Basic math aside, there's a second reason why every single crystal you pick up turns out to be pointless in the long run — none of them actually do anything.

Think about it. Do we ever see the Elementals being affected by the crystals at all? Aren't they all still awake in the final fight, despite Crash having more than enough crystals? In fact, what ever happened to the Elementals anyway? They just suddenly disappeared without any fanfare and have never been mentioned in any game since. I know those guys were just a means to an end, but you can't base your entire story around a bunch of new characters only to nonchalantly drop them when you feel like it. I mean, you can, but I'm still going to point it out 18 years later.

The Ancients Would Not Allow It

The way I see it, if you're going to bother having a story at all, the least you can do is make sure it's not complete nonsense. The story in Crash Bash, however, begins with Aku Aku and Uka Uka arguing over who should decide the fate of the planet. This quickly devolves into a playground fight, with Uka Uka putting up his proverbial dukes to teach his goody no-shoes brother a lesson. The wiser Aku Aku interrupts him immediately by saying: "The Ancients would not allow it!"

Wait, who in the what now?

Okay, so now we have these assumedly supernatural entities known as "the Ancients" all of a sudden. They've never been brought up before, and they'll never be brought up again during the course of the series (unless you count a passing mention in The Wrath of Cortex's manual). While this comes out of left field, what actually sells it as an illogical plot device is, well, the fact that Aku Aku and Uka Uka have fought each other before! If you finished Warped prior to starting this game, this was probably your first thought when you watched this intro. The entire story here revolves around a plot hole big enough for the Doominator to fall into, and it's all thanks to the Aku Uka brothers now being scared of the boogeyman.

Actually, let's just pretend the Ancients are responsible for every plot hole in the series from now on. Plot holes such as...

Aku Aku's Teleportation

Let me preface this one by saying that teleportation in and of itself isn't exactly an issue. It's all over the games, and it's usually how you travel from one place to another, thanks to Crash and company making extensive use of ancient warp portals and the like. This works because it has rules and limitations (very important). Every portal or platform Crash steps into transports him to preset coordinates. You're not supposed to think about how it works; you just have to accept that it does.

The problem is when you remove these limitations. Having a floating mask by your side that can teleport you at any time opens a Pandora's box of inconsistencies. Aku Aku (and Uka Uka) first display this ability in Crash Bash, where they summon characters from across the globe into Hyperspace. This ability is so stupidly overpowered that it effectively renders every single adventure pointless. Want to rescue Tawna? Just ask Aku Aku to teleport her next to you. Need to stop Cortex's plans? Teleport him to an isolated island. The end, franchise over.

From a writing standpoint, the reason Aku Aku's powers (sometimes) work comes from their limitations. He's a spirit possessing an old, wooden mask, but besides sharing his ancient knowledge every now and then, he's not supposed to play an active role besides doubling as Crash's bodyguard. Giving him the ability to teleport Crash out of any predicament or summoning things from anywhere just makes him a crutch for when the writers get lazy, and it either diminishes the importance of just about every event you can remember, or it makes the characters come across as complete idiots (especially Aku Aku himself).

This isn't even done consistently either. Aku Aku just sort of has this power sometimes, and it's never explained why or how it works. One of the things I love in Crash of the Titans is the sense of progression you get when you move from one place to another early on in the game (which is brilliantly done in the episode Turf's Up, I might add). This, however, gets thrown out the window halfway through the adventure, since Aku Aku, for some reason, randomly begins to teleport Crash and himself everywhere. Why didn't he just do that before? Why didn't he use it to get out of the cage in the beginning? Well... to be fair, he could have just slid through those giant gaps anyway, but that at least had the benefit of being funny.

To get even more arbitrary, at one point in the same game, he mentions he can't take Crash exactly where he needs to be, and we're left to wonder why. Is there a cool-off period to this power? Is something inhibiting it? Or did the developers just write themselves into a corner? To make matters worse, the game's sequel, Mind Over Mutant, never lets Aku Aku use this ability. In fact, Uka Uka has to lend his teleporter devices to Crash and Aku Aku, because he immediately assumes they've been walking everywhere, as if Aku Aku never had this power to begin with.

Unfortunately, this ability looks like it's here to stay, as suggested by the new intro in the N. Sane Trilogy version of Warped. Crash, Coco, and Aku Aku no longer run to the Time Twister. You guessed it — Aku Aku teleports them there instead. I guess he just doesn't feel like doing that all the time. Or maybe sometimes the Ancients do not allow it.

When the story plays second fiddle, it's easy to forget important details. Do plot holes ruin the Crash series? Absolutely not. Are they fun to discuss? I would say so, yes! If you agree, you can always leave a comment and join the discussion below. I actually do read all the comments, and I'm sure other fans do too. After all, I haven't covered every single plot hole (not by a long shot), so I'm curious to see what other people have picked up on.

And remember, if I ever suddenly disappear for a while, just assume I've been teleported to a mini-game competition. It happens more often than you think.

Hey there! Thanks for reading the new article. If you enjoy stuff like this and find the site useful or entertaining, you can give me a small tip at Ko-fi to help me make new content. Simply use the orange Ko-fi button below if you're feeling charitable. Otherwise, feel free to share the site and any articles you like, since that goes a long way to support me. Or just stick around and have fun. Whatever you decide, thanks for stopping by, and I hope you'll visit again soon! — HP Zoner


Samno | June 2, 2019 - 05:21 PM
"The ancients would not allow it" is such a classic. Even the game's 10-year-old demographic didn't buy it at the time!

Smaz | June 2, 2019 - 06:13 PM
I think I'll start saying "The Ancients would not allow it!" every time I wonder why the characters can't or won't do something, from now on. Great article, HP!

Chazual | June 2, 2019 - 06:22 PM
Cortex: "Do you have any idea with whom you are dealing?"
Von Clutch: "The world-renowned evil-doer Dr. Neo Periwinkle Cortex. I have all your games! For a moment there, I think all is lost for Von Clutch, but then I see my favorite video heroes. My innards tingle with joy!"
Oh. Oh my.

thebandragoness | June 3, 2019 - 12:09 PM
After years of confusion, I've finally come up with a sensible explanation for the Power Crystal thing: Sure, the ORIGINAL crystals were lost in space, but N. Trophy's Time Twister obviously works by creating alternate timelines, not Back to the Future style time travel. That's how Pura and Baby T are able to remain in the present at the end of the game without causing a massive time paradox. Thus, the crystals from Warped onwards all originate from different timelines. (As for the more-than-25 CTTR Power Crystals, my headcanon is that those are pale imitation crystals created by Von Clutch, just as he imitated Cortex's Evolvo-Ray to make Pasadena and the others. He is a big fan of Cortex, after all.)

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