This is a guide on how to get all the gems, crystals and secret levels in Crash Bandicoot 2: Cortex Strikes Back. There are no pictures, but I think the descriptions should be detailed enough.
Crash Bandicoot 2 Gem Guide
World / Warp Zone 1 Gem Guide
For the clear gem, you need to destroy all boxes. In the extra underground area, slide-jump from the big birds before they drop down. In the second half of the level, there’s a box you can only reach by bouncing from a turtle. For the blue gem, you need to finish the level without destroying a single box. The only issue here is the checkpoint where your way is blocked by a stack of 8 boxes. To go past that one, jump on the “10 fruits” box and bounce over it.
To get the clear gem, destroy all the boxes. There’s a bunch that you might miss. The first is problem are the nitro boxes. The switch that destroys them is right after the side-scrolling area. Once you drop down, walk a few feet back to find it. Soon after, you’ll see a couple of outlined boxes. To activate those, find a switch high above one of the two steel bouncy boxes very short distance later in the level. To get the red gem, you have to wait until later in the game. You can reach it from the Snow Go bonus entrance, which you unlock from the Air Crash level.
To get the clear gem here, you need the blue gem from Turtle Woods. Other than that, don’t forget to go back for the outlined boxes once you hit the “!” switch on one of the water areas. For the other clear gem (the first one on the indicator between levels), this level has a time attack mode. Once you reach the first checkpoint, a timer will start. You need to reach the end of the level before the time runs out. On the area where there’s two hippo’s you need to jump over, use slide-jump to reach one of them. This will shave off a second or two.
This level has forking pats. On the fork, first go up to the checkpoint, then return to the fork and go left. Follow the left path all the way through. Once the forks meet again, follow the right fork backwards until you break the four boxes inside the stone structure. After that, you can move on to the end of the level and get the clear gem.
Just destroy all the boxes to get the clear gem. It’s easy until the third checkpoint. After that, there’s still no trick to it. Just keep trying and you should be able to get the boxes behind the electric fences without getting crushed.
World / Warp Zone 2 Gem Guide
To get the clear gem, you need to break all the boxes, which is only possible if you already have the red gem, which can be collected on the Snow Go level.
This level has a death route, which is a special area you can only reach if you manage to get to the skull platform without dying. Once you reach it once, you can die and still get to it later, if you don’t leave the level. For the first clear gem, you need to complete the death route. For the second clear gem, destroy all the boxes. This is only possible if you enter the level from the secret Air Crash entrance in the bonus warp zone. For the secret level, at the first checkpoint, avoid the jet-ski and instead bounce along the boxes to reach the nearby platform.
Get all the boxes for the clear gem. There’s no trick to it, just some skill and practice.
There’s a fork on this level, but it goes backwards, since it’s a chase level. Clear the extra path and then jump on the platform to go back to the fork. The clear gem is yours if you get all the boxes.
The Eel Deal
Just break all the boxes for the clear gem. On the fork, go right. There’s a regular box between a bunch of nitro boxes. Make sure to destroy it before going back to the left path. For the green gem, again, go right on the fork. This time, navigate past the nitro boxes and jump through the wall in the back. The gem will be at the end of the path.
World / Warp Zone 3 Gem Guide
For the clear gem, just destroy all the boxes. It’s difficult, but there are no tricks involved. For the yellow gem, get to the level before the timer, which starts at the first checkpoint, ends. To get past the last area with the plants, make sure to have two Aku Aku masks to make it way easier. Also, to quote a friendly person from the comments named Tonlee:
I have found out on Level 11 Plant Food if you get the timer to start, go to the ? part and get on the platform. After the section where there are two TNT boxes and the life if you fall off it will boost your time to roughly a minute and a half. I figure that will be useful information.
So there you go! I haven’t tried it myself yet, but you could and if it works, it’s sure to help.
Sewer or Later
For the clear gem, go right at the fork the hit the “!” switch, then go back and left to find a couple of outlined boxes. The rest of the boxes is easy to find. For the other clear gem, you need the yellow gem to enable the extra platform.
Just break all the boxes for the clear gem. Again, there’s no trick, just some skill. For the secret level, when the bear throws you off over the lake at the end, jump along the smaller ice platforms in the lake to reach the large central platform.
Road to Ruin
To get all the boxes and the first clear gem, you need to enter the level from the secret entrance in the bonus world, which is unlocked from the Diggin’ It level. For the other clear gem, there’s a death path. Again, you need to reach the platform without dying to unlock it.
This one gave me the most trouble. For the clear gem, you need to jump into the huge plank covered gap after the bear falls in. There’s an extra bunch of boxes in there. At the checkpoint in this area, there are two hidden extra life boxes on high above the top platform. Other than that, it’s straightforward.
For the secret level, when the bear cub throws you off at end, walk back to it, instead of completing the level.
World / Warp Zone 4 Gem Guide
There’s no trick for the clear gem here. Just break all the boxes. It’s doable with practice. For the secret level, when you drop down the hole, walk a bit backwards and jump down another hole.
There’s a death path about half way through. Get to it and complete it to get the clear gem. For the other clear gem, destroy all the boxes. The way I did it was to take the right path first up to and including the stone structure well after the checkpoint. After that, backtrack to the fork, take the death path and clear it and the rest of the level. It’s hard, but doable. The bees can be destroyed with the spin attack.
Cold Hard Crash
For the first clear gem, get to the death path and complete it, as usual. The other clear gem is probably the hardest in the game, skillwise. First, make it to the bonus area and clear it without dying. When you get to the part with the two bouncy boxes, jump-slide or crouch-jump on the top one to reach a hidden box way above. After the bonus area, go to the death path. Get to the end of it, but DO NOT fall down the hole. Instead, go back to the death platform, clearing the now active outlined box along the way. Once you’re out of the death path, clear the rest of the level.
For the first clear gem, just clear the green gem path. Of course, to make the green platform appear, you need the green gem from The Eel Deal. For the other clear gem, just break all the boxes. If you’re missing any, it’s probably from the bonus (?) stage. There are 49 boxes in there.
For the clear gem, just break all the boxes. There’s nothing hidden, you just need to get them all, no matter the difficulty. For the purple gem, jump on the nitro stairs about half way through. You won’t die, instead getting teleported to the purple gem area.
World / Warp Zone 5 Gem Guide
Piston It Away
For the first clear gem, there’s a death route with its own final room. Just get to it and get through it. For the other clear gem, go all the way to the end of the level, clearing the boxes along the way, then go back and take the death route, completing the level via the death route final room. It’s hard, but most of the boxes are clearly visible.
For the clear gem, break all the boxes. It’s annoying because you’re flying with a jet pack, but none of them are horribly hidden. Just pay attention and take your time.
The difficulty here are the fireflies. For the first clear gem, just take the death path and clear it. For the other clear gem, some trickery is needed. Take the right path on the work and clear it, then go back along the left path to get the two boxes there. You’ll have a firefly nearby so take it and complete the level.
For the clear gem, it’s the same as with the Rock It level. Take your time, use your eyes and break all the gems.
The first clear gem is a challenge of pure skill. You need to have all the colored gems. Navigate from one colored platform to the other, until you clear all of them. At that point, you can complete the level, or go back and clear it the regular way to get the other clear gem to. For the other clear gem, destroy all the boxes. There’s no trick that I can think of. I don’t think there are any crates in the gem platform areas.
Crash Bandicoot 2 Secret Level Guide
To unlock the secret entrance to Snow Go, go to the regular Air Crash level. At the first checkpoint, don’t go for the jet-ski. Instead, bounce of the boxes in the water to reach the nearby platform.
To unlock the secret entrance to Air Crash, got to the Bear Down level. At the end, when the bear throws you off, instead of completing the level, go back and jump along the smaller ice platforms to get to the large one in the center.
Road To Ruin
Near the end of the Diggin’ It level, there’s a large bomb throwing plant on the platform to the left. Jump on the platform and kill it.
To unlock Totally Bear, go to Un-Bearable and get to the end of it. Once the bear cub throws you off, go all the way back to it and you’ll get teleported to the secret warp zone. Totally Bear has a clear gem of its own. To get it, destroy all the boxes. Don’t forget you can speed up with the crouch button, which makes bigger jumps possible.
This is a secret night level with fireflies. You get to it from the Hangin’ Out level. When you drop down a hole in Hangin’Out, run back and drop down another hole. Follow the path to get teleported to the secret warp zone. This is another level with a clear gem. The main problem are the iron boxes you need to belly flop to destroy. To get those, walk AROUND the firefly, destroy all the boxes you can see (or guess where they are) and only then go get the firefly and complete the level. It’s possible to find all the boxes hidden in the dark without falling in any of the pits.