Doctor Neo Cortex as he appears in Crash: Mind over Mutant

Doctor Neo Periwinkle Cortex, often referred to as "Doctor Cortex" or simply "Cortex", is a video game character and the primary antagonist of the Crash series of video games. He was originally designed by Charles Zembillas and Joe Pearson.

In the series, Cortex is depicted as a mad scientist who seeks to achieve world domination as an act of vengeance for the ridicule he has suffered in the past. Hoping to achieve this by mutating the local animals into his soldiers, he eventually creates Crash Bandicoot, the titular character of the series, but soon rejects him as unworthy of being in his army and removes him from his castle. As Cortex's actions endanger the sanctity of the islands the games are set in, Cortex's plans for world domination are often hampered by Crash along with other characters. Crash's constant interference has made eliminating Crash one of Cortex's top priorities along with world domination.

Cortex is voiced by Brendan O'Brien in the first Crash Bandicoot game, by Clancy Brown from Crash Bandicoot 2: Cortex Strikes Back up to Crash Nitro Kart[1][2][3][4][5] and by Lex Lang from Crash Twinsanity onwards.[6][7][8] In the Japanese versions of the games, he is voiced by Shōzō Iizuka in the games up to Crash Tag Team Racing[9] and by Yōsuke Akimoto in Crash Boom Bang!.[10] In a flashback to Cortex's childhood in Crash Twinsanity, he is voiced by Debi Derryberry in the English version of the game and by Noriko Suzuki in the Japanese version. Critical reception of Cortex has been mostly positive, with much of the praise going to his portrayal in Crash Twinsanity.

Conception and creationEdit

Cortex was originally designed by Charles Zembillas and Joe Pearson, who envisioned him "as a madman... literally."[11] Cortex's name is a play on the term "neocortex", a section of the brain.[12] He was named quickly and designed from the name rather than vice versa, a pattern that the other "Doctor" characters would follow.[12]Crash co-creator Jason Rubin considered Cortex one of his favorite Crash characters alongside Ripper Roo and Crash himself.[12]



Cortex's main motivation for conquering the world stems from extensive ridicule he had suffered in the past.[13][14][15] He is also talked into world domination plots by his overseer Uka Uka, whom Cortex formely feared to the point that he got down on his hands and knees in his presence.[16] Overtime, this fear of Uka Uka would disappear, leading to Cortex opposing his own replacement in Crash of the Titans[17] and eventually revolting against him in Crash: Mind over Mutant, citing a desire to "run this operation" as justification for his actions.[18]

Cortex has been described as having an ego "the size of a hot air balloon".[14] His egomania often blinds him from others' hatred of him to the point where he delusionally believes that he is in fact loved by everyone, including those he considers his enemies.[19][20] While he frequently declares himself to be aesthetically attractive,[21][22][23] he has displayed self-conscious behavior about his physical appearance on at least one occasion.[24] In addition, he dislikes personal habits that he deems disgusting, and once went as far as placing a bounty on someone who ate sandwiches while going to the bathroom.[25]

Outward appearanceEdit

Cortex was once described as having a "huge head and bright yellow skin" by a minor character in Crash Tag Team Racing.[26] His most distinguishing feature is the large N located on his forehead, the origin of which is unknown. Cortex is near-bald with the exception of a few areas on his head; Andy Gavin and Jason Rubin humorously explained that Cortex only uses Rogaine on those select areas.[27] In much of his appearances, Cortex is dressed in a white lab coat, black underclothes and matching gloves and boots (yellow in earlier games and reddish-brown in later appearances). Cortex stands about five feet and three inches (1.6 meters) and weighs 130 pounds (59 kilograms).[28]

Plot overviewEdit


Cortex's full birth name is given as "Neo Periwinkle Cortex".[29] As a child, Neo Cortex was a classmate of N. Gin and Nitrus Brio in Madame Amberly's Private Academy.[30] It was here that Cortex began constructing the Evolvo-Ray, which he would use to create an army of super-animals. Due to the incomplete nature of the Evolvo-Ray, a test run results in the disappearance of Cortex's pet parrots Victor and Moritz.[31] It is implied in Crash Tag Team Racing that Cortex served in the Da Nang Air Base during the Vietnam War.[32] As an adult, Cortex was ridiculed by the scientific community for his outlandish (yet nearly workable) theories, and became motivated by the desire to silence his opposition.[13] In Crash Twinsanity, it is implied that his mother currently works at a burlesque house.

Naughty Dog gamesEdit

Recruiting Doctor Nitrus Brio as his chief henchman, Cortex began using the Evolvo-Ray to create a mutated army of animals that will aid him in his quest for world domination. When he ejects a mutant named Crash Bandicoot out of his castle, he prepares to experiment on a female bandicoot named Tawna. However, he is soon confronted and defeated by Crash, who gets away with Tawna on Cortex's airship. Cortex lands in a cavern where he discovers a large Crystal that he believes will aid him in controlling the world. However, he soon learns that 25 smaller Crystals are needed alongside this "Master Crystal" if his new "Cortex Vortex" device is going to work.[33] To remedy this situation, Cortex abducts Crash Bandicoot a year later and fools him into believing that he is working to save the world from an upcoming solar flux by gathering the Crystals. Cortex is later forced to flee when Coco Bandicoot discovers Cortex's real plan and reveals it to Crash. When the ruins of his space station crash into Earth and release his boss Uka Uka, Cortex takes part in Uka Uka's plan to gather the Crystals in their original places in time by using Doctor Nefarious Tropy's Time-Twisting Machine. When Tropy is defeated, the Time-Twisting Machine implodes on itself, trapping Cortex, Tropy and Uka Uka in a strange time prison. Neo Cortex appears as a playable character in Crash Team Racing and Crash Bash. The epilogue of Crash Team Racing states that Cortex went back to scientific research and discovered a new element in the periodic table, which he named "Cortexrulestheworldium".[34]

Traveller's Tales/Vicarious Visions gamesEdit

Since his latest defeat to the hands of Crash, Cortex began laboring over a genetically-advanced superweapon that'll supposedly wipe Crash Bandicoot off the face of the Earth forever. The project is kept a secret until it is inadvertedly revealed by N. Gin and N. Tropy during a bad guy convention inside Cortex's new space station.[35] He claims that the superweapon is unbelievably strong, but it is still missing a power source.[36] He soon decides to use the Elementals as the power source, which successfully bring the secret weapon, Crunch Bandicoot, to life. When Crunch fails to defeat Crash, Cortex tries to explain himself to Uka Uka, but soon finds himself dodging Uka Uka's subsequent energy blast, which hits a vital part of the space station. During the resulting critical overload, Uka Uka and Doctor Cortex flee into an escape pod, which lands in the frozen wastes of Antarctica, stranding them both on a large sheet of ice. In Crash Bandicoot: The Huge Adventure, Cortex tries to conquer the world by shrinking it to the size of a grapefruit with his new Planetary Minimizer. In the game's climax, he is fused with the game's three other bosses by the malfunctioning Planetary Minimizer, forming a creature known as Mega-Mix. Mega-Mix chases Crash down the space station's hall but is unsuccessful in catching him, and the creature ends up trapped in the space station as it explodes. Although Cortex does not appear in the story of Crash Bandicoot 2: N-Tranced, he is a playable character in the game's two-player mode if it is linked up to Crash Bandicoot: The Huge Adventure. Cortex is a playable character in Crash Nitro Kart as well. In the game's story, Cortex is abducted along with N. Gin and Tiny, and is forced to compete in Emperor Velo's Galaxy Circuit. When Velo is defeated and rendered useless as a ruler, Cortex uses Velo's scepter to return to Earth, but is instead transported to Terra, where Tiny gains the respect of the citizens (much to Cortex's utter annoyance). In Crash Twinsanity, Cortex ambushes Coco, disguises himself as her, and lures Crash over to the bay where he attempts to eliminate Crash with the forty-foot-tall Mecha-Bandicoot piloted by Doctor N. Gin, which Crash easily disposes of. Angered, Cortex viciously attacks Crash in an underground cavern, his rage only calmed with the discovery of a Power Crystal. When two mutated parrots named the Evil Twins suddenly appear and announce their plans to destroy Crash's island and devastate Earth, Crash and Cortex temporarily team up to destroy these two upstarts with the aid of the Psychetron, a machine that'll allow them to travel between the infinite dimensions. However, it soon becomes apparent that the Evil Twins are from Cortex's past. Recruiting his niece, Nina Cortex, the trio set out to stop the Evil Twins, with Cortex also aiming to steal their vast treasure. After finally confronting and defeating the Evil Twins, Cortex returns to the Iceberg Lab, where he attempts to dispose of Crash with the Psychetron. Unfortunately for him, the Psychetron malfunctions, sending Cortex into Crash's mind. In Crash Bandicoot Purple: Ripto's Rampage, Cortex teams up with Ripto, a villain from the Spyro the Dragon series to destroy both Crash and Spyro, but he ends up defeated by their nemeses.

Dimps/Radical Entertainment gamesEdit

Doctor Cortex is a playable character in Crash Tag Team Racing. In the game's story, Cortex attempts to win the deed to Von Clutch's MotorWorld and use it as a new base of operations. When Crash wins the deed to the park, Cortex liquifies Willie Wumpa Cheeks (the park's mascot) and is about to kill Crash when Crash retaliates by throwing a live chicken into the rotor of Cortex's death machine, causing it to malfunction. Cortex is also a playable character in Crash Boom Bang!, in which he attempts to steal the Viscount's map and find the Super Big Power Crystal himself. When Cortex and the Viscount struggle for the possession of the map, it tears into four pieces. Cortex sends his Lab Assistants to find the pieces before anyone else can, but he is unsuccessful in the search.[37] In Crash of the Titans, Cortex kidnaps Coco and Aku Aku (Crash rescues Aku Aku), and proceeds to steal a large quantity of Mojo from an ancient temple, planning to use it to create an army of "Titans", which will aid him in the construction of a giant robot dubbed "The Doominator". He then attempts to eliminate Crash with the aid of his patented Yuktopus, but fails to do so. Heading back to his base, Cortex is lambasted by Uka Uka for failing to kill Crash, and is replaced by Nina Cortex. Inactive for much of the game, Cortex is denied the opportunity to watch his Doominator in action. At the end of the game, Cortex rescues Nina from the collapsing Doominator, and praises Nina for betraying him, as it is the vilest thing she could've ever done, although he still decides to spank her stupid for it. At that moment, Cortex vows to be more villainous and horrible in the future.[38] In Crash: Mind over Mutant, Cortex drops Nina off at the Evil Public School (which he apparently owns) as punishment for her betrayal, then reconciles with his old colleague Nitrus Brio to invent the NV, a personal digital assistant that controls whoever uses it by transmitting bad Mojo, unwillingly supplied by Uka Uka through the use of a milking machine. He later engages in a fight with Crash inside his new Space Head space station, empowering himself with the use of a mutagen formula stolen from Nitrus Brio.[39] Upon losing the fight, Cortex throws a tantrum, causing the Space Head to plummet towards Earth. Returning to normal, he escapes the Space Head in a smaller shuttle with an unnamed Znu.


John Scalzo of Gaming Target once compared Cortex to Doctor Eggman of the Sonic the Hedgehog series, speculating that they "probably graduated from the same evil medical school" and remarked that "they look like brothers."[40]Mark Cooke of Game Revolution praised Clancy Brown's vocal performance as Cortex in Crash Bandicoot 2: Cortex Strikes Back as "hilarious" and "satirical",[41] while Joseph Boutilier of Netjak felt that "Cortex often sounds pretty hokey," and that "somewhere Cortex's dialogue goes wrong."[42]

Doctor Cortex's portrayal in Crash Twinsanity was singled out for praise among reviewers. James B. Pringle of IGN noted that the game "shows a side of the evil doctor that we haven't seen before" and, while describing the dialogue as "solid," said that "Cortex is the one you want to keep listening to."[43]Ryan Davis of GameSpot analyzed "Cortex's constant creeping and sniveling" as "a great showcase of the kinds of neuroses that might cause one to gain an interest in evil science," and added that "the strained grandeur of Cortex's speech" was the most "accomplished" voice work in the game.[44]Gordy Wheeler of Worth Playing considered Cortex "having abuse heaped on him like a classic Warner Brothers character" to be "the most fun part of this game," and went on to heavily praise Lex Lang's vocal performance, writing that "just about all of the game's best lines come from Cortex, and his voice actor brings it home solidly. He may be on the way to being my favorite mad scientist ever and that's a heck of a feat. Someone get his voice actor into another role RIGHT NOW. I want more of him."[45]Brent Soboleski of TeamXbox believed that Cortex was "probably the best and most entertaining character of the game since players get a completely different look at his personality this time through," and felt that he was "very funny and his sarcasm and evil attitude are a perfect match for his personality."[46]Nick Valentino of GameZone felt that "the biggest laughs, believe it or not, come from Doctor Neo Cortex who comes off as nutty in the best possible way. He’s filled with witty observations and often pokes fun of his past encounters with Crash." He later remarked that "the twisted Doctor is one hilarious bloke and his dialogue just makes him all the more likeable."[47]

Doctor Cortex's reception was more mixed in later games. In a review of Crash Tag Team Racing, Rob Byron of AceGamez noted that Cortex "has taken a slightly dopier, camper representation than his predecessors, which gives him a more lovable feel."[48]Mitch Youngblood of Gaming Trend, in a review for Crash of the Titans, negatively described Cortex as "an over-amped drama queen cranked up to an 11."[49]GameDaily ranked Doctor Cortex number twenty-three on their list of Top 25 Evil Masterminds of All Time article, stating "His twisted Wario-like hair, his pointy goatee and that big N stamped in the middle of his forehead makes him look like pure evil."[50]

External linksEdit

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