Doctor Neo Cortex

Doctor Neo Cortex is a fictional character and the main antagonist of the Crash Bandicoot series. His name is a play on the term neocortex, an area of the brain. He has been the archenemy of Crash ever since his first appearance, in the game Crash Bandicoot.

Doctor Neo Cortex
Crash Bandicoot character
IAT Neo Cortex.png
Cortex as he appears in Crash Bandicoot 4: It's About Time
First appearanceCrash Bandicoot (1996)
Created byAndy Gavin
Jason Rubin
Designed byCharles Zembillas
Voiced by
In-universe information
Full nameNeo Periwinkle Cortex[2]
OccupationMad scientist
RelativesNina Cortex (niece)
Nationality United States

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. He is aided by the wicked Tiki mask Uka Uka, who gives him advice on how to achieve this goal. Under his guidance, Doctor Cortex mutated the local animals into his soldiers, eventually creating 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 was created by Andy Gavin and Jason Rubin, and was originally designed by Charles Zembillas. Critical reception of Cortex has been mostly positive, with much of the praise going to Clancy Brown's and Lex Lang's vocal performances, as well as the character's portrayal in Crash Twinsanity.

Concept and creationEdit

Charles Zembillas' original concept art for Doctor Neo Cortex

The idea for Cortex was conceived while Andy Gavin, Jason Rubin, Dave Baggett and Mark Cerny were eating "mediocre Italian" near Universal Interactive Studios. Gavin came up with the idea of an "evil genius villain with a big head" who was "all about his attitude and his minions". Rubin, having become fond of the animated television series Pinky and the Brain, imagined a "more malevolent Brain" with minions resembling the weasel characters in Who Framed Roger Rabbit. After Gavin performed a "silly villain voice" depicting the attitude in mind for the character, the villain's name, Doctor Neo Cortex, was instantly formulated. Gavin and Rubin described Cortex to character designer Charles Zembillas as "[having] a huge head but a tiny body, he’s a mad scientist, and he dresses a bit like a Nazi from the Jetsons". Jason Rubin owns the original sketches of Cortex by Zembillas. Because Cortex's game model was unable to walk properly due to the short length of his legs, the character was kept stationary in much of his appearances.[3]

Cortex is voiced by Brendan O'Brien in the first Crash Bandicoot game, and by Clancy Brown from Crash Bandicoot 2: Cortex Strikes Back up to Crash Nitro Kart.[4][5][6][7][8] For Crash Twinsanity, Lex Lang was called in for an audition to replace Brown,[9] as VU Games reportedly considered Brown's performance to be "too mean".[10] After voice director Chris Borders described Doctor Cortex to Lang and had him listen to signature samples of Brown's performance,[9] he encouraged Lang to play Cortex as more flamboyant and self-absorbed.[10] Lang eventually created a depiction of Cortex that was "master evil with a bit of a childish feminine side that leaks out in his tirades" that had everyone laughing at the lines and the character.[9] Monty Python's Flying Circus was an additional influence on Lang's delivery as Cortex.[11] Lang had voiced Cortex from Twinsanity onward.[12][13][14] In the Japanese versions of the games, he is voiced by Shōzō Iizuka up to Crash Tag Team Racing and by Yōsuke Akimoto in Crash Boom Bang!. 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.


Cortex's most distinguishing physical traits are his large head, yellow skin and the N tattooed onto his forehead.[15] 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.[16] Cortex stands 1.6 meters (about five feet and three inches) and weighs 59 kilograms (130 pounds).[17]

Cortex is depicted as a mad scientist who is ruthlessly and obsessively motivated to dominate the world by the desire to exact vengeance upon a humanity that spurned and humiliated him. He possesses an outrageously high intelligence quotient, which he believes makes him the logical choice to control the world, and he is frequently frustrated by the inferior mentality and failures of his underlings. In awareness of his diminutive build, Cortex avoids physical combat and rationalizes his cowardice by claiming that such engagement is beneath him. Cortex is exceptionally skilled in the fields of engineering and mechanics, which allows him to create a wide variety of devices and machines. Although he is prone to wild mood swings, his single-minded determination keeps him functional. He is highly self-confident and views himself as perfect, which convinces him not to subject himself to the Evolvo-Ray. Cortex is a lifelong loner whose sole friend has been his assistant and childhood associate Doctor Nitrus Brio, whom he treats with contemptuous affection. As a result of his traumatic childhood experiences, Cortex flies into an hysterical rage at imagery of clowns, laugh tracks, seltzer bottles and bananas.[18] In the Japanese localizations of the games, Cortex speaks with a somewhat archaic vocabulary reminiscent of samurai dramas.[19]



Cortex's full birth name is given as "Neo Periwinkle Cortex".[2] He was born as the youngest son in a family of circus clowns. Unlike the rest of his family, Cortex was sickly, introverted and preferred studying science over making people laugh. Because of this, he bore the brunt of numerous jokes, which would culminate in a large "N" (standing for "nerd") being tattooed onto his head at the age of three by a particularly cruel group of performers. Some time afterward, a freak explosion implicitly caused by Cortex would incapacitate his entire family and leave Cortex to fend for himself. Cortex's desire for world domination would stem from this incident. At the age of six, Cortex attended high school only to be similarly tormented by the students. It is here that Cortex would befriend Nitrus Brio, an equally intelligent youth who would become subservient to Cortex's every whim. Afterward, another freak explosion implied to be Cortex's and Brio's doing demolished the high school along with most of the surrounding town; during that time, Cortex and Brio were taking shelter in an abandoned plutonium mine.[18] At around eight years old, Cortex and Brio attended Madame Amberly's Academy of Evil, where they became classmates of N. Gin.[20] 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.[21]

It is implied in Crash Tag Team Racing that Cortex served in the Da Nang Air Base during the Vietnam War.[22] 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.[23] Afterward, he and Nitrus Brio would indulge in numerous activities that would brand the pair as international criminals. In their search for sanctuary from the various world forces that sought their capture, Cortex and Brio discovered a trio of secluded islands and secured one of the islands as their base of operations.[18]

Main seriesEdit

Doctor Neo Cortex as he appears in Cortex Strikes Back

In most of the main series, Cortex has served as the main antagonist. In Crash Bandicoot, Cortex begins using the Evolvo-Ray to create a mutated army of animals that will aid him in his quest for world domination, which he calls the "Cortex Commandos". When Crash Bandicoot escapes from 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. In Crash Bandicoot 2: Cortex Strikes Back, 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.[24] 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 in Warped, 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 Cortex is defeated after Crash gathers all the Crystals, Relics, and Gems, the Time-Twisting Machine implodes on itself, trapping Cortex, Tropy and Uka Uka in a strange time prison.

Preceding the events of The Wrath of Cortex, Cortex began laboring over a genetically-advanced super weapon that'll supposedly wipe Crash Bandicoot off the face of the Earth forever. The project is kept a secret until it is inadvertently revealed by N. Gin and N. Tropy during a bad guy convention inside Cortex's new space station.[25] He claims that the superweapon is unbelievably strong, but it is still missing a power source.[26] 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 for 3 years. 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 a 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 will 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 of the Titans, Cortex kidnaps Aku Aku (who was rescued by Crash) and Coco, 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".[27] 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.[28] 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 negative 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 N. Brio's original mutation formula.[29] 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.

Other appearances in the seriesEdit

Doctor 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", a name that stuck despite a number of lawsuits against it.[30] 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 Bandicoot Purple: Ripto's Rampage, Cortex teams up with Ripto, a villain from the Spyro franchise, to destroy both Crash and Spyro, but he ends up defeated by their nemeses. 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.[31]

Appearances outside of the seriesEdit

Cortex makes a special guest appearance in Skylanders: Imaginators alongside Crash Bandicoot as a playable Skylander.[32]

Promotion and receptionEdit

Doctor Neo Cortex has been featured in a series of Crash Bandicoot action figures produced by Resaurus. For Crash Bandicoot 2: Cortex Strikes Back, Resaurus produced a "Dr. Neo Cortex" figure bundled with a laser gun, a Wumpa Fruit and a Crystal as seen in the game.[33] A vinyl figure by Funko and a rubber duck by Numskull Designs have also been made in Cortex's image.[34][35] On July 28, 2020, First 4 Figures unveiled a 21-inch resin collectible figure of Cortex. The figure depicts a scene from the boss fight against him in Crash Bandicoot: Warped, in which Cortex wields a ray gun and a timed mine. The figure will be released in both a standard and exclusive edition; the exclusive version features a light-up hoverboard, mine and smoke trail.[36][37]

Major Mike of GamePro and Mark Cooke of Game Revolution both praised Clancy Brown's vocal performance as Cortex in Crash Bandicoot 2: Cortex Strikes Back, with Cooke describing Brown as "hilarious" and "satirical".[38][39] In his review of Crash Bandicoot: The Wrath of Cortex, Ben Kosmina of Nintendo World Report singled out Brown's voice-acting as "great", and recalled Cortex's line "...and a woman with nice, big... bags of ice for my head" being a highlight in Crash Bandicoot: Warped.[40] Chris Carter of Destructoid, in his review of the Crash Bandicoot N. Sane Trilogy, stated his preference of Brown's performance in the original trilogy over Lex Lang's performance in the remastered version.[41]

Doctor Cortex's portrayal and Lang's vocal performance in Crash Twinsanity were also praised. 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 game's dialogue as "solid," said that "Cortex is the one you want to keep listening to."[42] 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."[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] 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."[45] Andrew Reiner of Game Informer admitted that "turning Cortex into a cross-dressing lunatic brought about a few chuckles".[46]

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."[47] GamesRadar ranked him 98th in their 2013 list of the best villains in video game history.[48]


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  2. ^ a b Radical Entertainment. Crash Tag Team Racing (Multiplatform). Sierra Entertainment. Level/area: Von Clutch Makes a Deal. Doctor Neo Cortex: What is the meaning of this?! Have you any idea with whom you are dealing?! / Ebenezer Von Clutch: The world-renowned evil-doer Doctor Neo Periwinkle Cortex! I have all your games.
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  11. ^ Lang, Lex [@LexLang] (August 3, 2019). "@Borgatao No. Just watched a lot of Monty Python as a kid. Haha XD!" (Tweet) – via Twitter.
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  21. ^ Traveller's Tales. Crash Twinsanity (Multiplatform). Sony Computer Entertainment America. Level/area: Madame Amberly's Academy of Evil. Doctor Neo Cortex: It was my first experiment with the Evolvo-Ray, Phase One in my plan to create an army of superanimals! The test subjects: my two pet parrots Victor and Moritz, the only creatures I didn't loathe or eat. The experiment was proceeding as planned, when, suddenly... my parrots were gone! Lost among the infinite dimensions!
  22. ^ Radical Entertainment. Crash Tag Team Racing (Multiplatform). Sierra Entertainment. Doctor Neo Cortex: (after striking an opponent with a weapon) Ha ha ha! Just like back in Da Nang!
  23. ^ Crash Bandicoot Instruction Booklet. Sony Computer Entertainment. 1996. p. 19.
  24. ^ Naughty Dog (1997-10-31). Crash Bandicoot 2: Cortex Strikes Back (PlayStation). Sony Computer Entertainment. Level/area: Opening sequence. Doctor N. Gin: But Doctor Cortex, to reach full power, we need not only your "Master Crystal", but also there are as many as 25 "Slave Crystals" on the surface.
  25. ^ Traveller's Tales. Crash Bandicoot: The Wrath of Cortex (Multiplatform). Sony Computer Entertainment America. Level/area: Opening sequence. Doctor Nefarious Tropy: There must be something we can come up with! Say, Doctor. Haven't you been tinkering with some kind of new secret weapon in your laboratory? / Doctor Neo Cortex: I don't know what you're talking about, N. Tropy! / Doctor N. Gin: Doctor Cortex! I think he's referring to the super-secret weapon you've been laboring over day and night since the last time Crash defeated you!
  26. ^ Traveller's Tales. Crash Bandicoot: The Wrath of Cortex (Multiplatform). Sony Computer Entertainment. Level/area: Opening sequence. Doctor Neo Cortex: Well, in my scientific endeavors, I've been able to create a superweapon of unbelievable strength. But the power source... is the final missing crucial element.
  27. ^ Radical Entertainment (October 4, 2007). Crash of the Titans (Multiplatform). Sierra Entertainment. Level/area: Episode 4: The Temple of Zoom. Doctor Neo Cortex: I will use the stolen Mojo to create a huge army of loyal mutants, not rejects like you guys. / Coco Bandicoot: You jerk. / Doctor Neo Cortex: But best of all, I will use this army to construct a mighty robot. The largest doomsday device I've ever built. I will smash Wumpa Island, then take over the world! And I shall call this robot... the Doominator!!
  28. ^ Radical Entertainment (2007-10-04). Crash of the Titans (Wii). Sierra Entertainment. Level/area: Episode 20: Revengeance 2 — The Revengicide. Why did you rescue me? I betrayed you, took over your evil plan... then failed. / Doctor Neo Cortex: Oh, Nina. Betraying me is the most vile, evil thing you could've ever done! You're a skank. I'm... just so proud of you right now. / Nina Cortex: Hooray! / Doctor Neo Cortex: I promise. From now on, I'll be more evil, more villainous, more horrible! Horrible! Oh, and go kill bandicoots too. I'm still going to spank you stupid for this. / Nina Cortex: Ohhh...
  29. ^ Radical Entertainment (October 7, 2008). Crash: Mind over Mutant (Multiplatform). Activision. Level/area: Fists of Orange Fury. Doctor Neo Cortex: Oh. Did I forget to mention I was going to cheat? I've got some of N. Brio's mutation formula here to even the odds.
  30. ^ Naughty Dog. Crash Team Racing (PlayStation). Sony Computer Entertainment. Level/area: Epilogue. Text: Cortex went back to scientific research and discovered a new element in the periodic table. Numerous lawsuits failed to change the name he boldly chose for Element 117/119.... CORTEXRULESTHEWORLDIUM
  31. ^ Dimps. Crash Boom Bang! (Nintendo DS). Sierra Entertainment. Level/area: The City. Doctor Neo Cortex: My loyal slaves... you will find those pieces and bring me the map. You'd better go find me those map fragments...
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  35. ^ Fallon, Sean (August 15, 2019). "Cosplaying Duck Figures Feature Skyrim, Batman, LOTR, Spryo, and More". Retrieved October 6, 2020.
  36. ^ Galvez, Miguel (July 28, 2020). "Crash Bandicoot™ – Dr. Neo Cortex Statue Launch". First 4 Figures. Retrieved October 6, 2020.
  37. ^ Leung, Ambrose (August 24, 2020). "F4F Releases 21-Inch Crash Bandicoot Dr. Neo Cortex Figure". Hypebeast. Retrieved October 6, 2020.
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  48. ^ GamesRadar Staff (May 17, 2013). "100 best villains in video games". GamesRadar. Retrieved June 21, 2013.

External linksEdit