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The player controls Crash Bandicoot, who must traverse several levels in sequence in order to progress. The player is given a certain amount of lives, which are lost when Crash is attacked by an enemy, or falls into water or a pit. If all lives are lost at any point in the game, the "Game Over" screen will appear, at which point the player may continue from the last time they saved their progress. Crash's primary abilities are jumping and spinning. Most enemies may be defeated by jumping on them or spinning into them. An enemy that is attacked by Crash's spin attack can be launched into another enemy that is on-screen at the same time. These same techniques can be used to open the numerous boxes found in each stage. Most boxes in the game contain Wumpa Fruit, which give the player an extra life if 100 of them are collected. Another item found inside crates is the Witch Doctor's Mask, which shields Crash from one enemy attack. Collecting three of these masks in a row grants Crash temporary invulnerability from all minor dangers. Arrow boxes (marked with arrows pointing up) propel Crash further than his ordinary jump can, while TNT boxes explode after a three-second fuse when jumped on. Boxes with an exclamation mark (!) on them cause previously intangible objects in the area to solidify. Check Point boxes allow Crash to return to the point where the first Check Point box has been opened upon losing a life. If more than one Check Point box has been opened in a stage, Crash returns to the last Check Point box that has been opened. Special tokens can also be found inside boxes. These tokens may feature the likenesses of Tawna, Doctor Neo Cortex or Doctor Nitrus Brio. When three tokens have been collected in one stage, the on-screen action freezes and Crash is immediately teleported to a "Bonus Round". In the Bonus Round, the player must break open a large number of boxes to earn Wumpa Fruit and special items such as keys to hidden areas. If Crash falls off the screen in the Bonus Round, he is transported back to the level he came from rather than losing a life. He is also transported back to the level if the Bonus Round has been successfully traversed. If the player can complete an entire level without losing a life after breaking open a Check Point box, a special "Stage Clear" screen appears in which the player is informed of how well they've done and if any special items have been earned. They are also shown how many boxes (if any) have been missed in the level. If a life has been lost during the stage, the player is simply returned to the world map. If the player manages to both complete a level without losing a life after breaking open a Check Point box and break open all of the boxes in that level, they are awarded a gem. Gems allow the player to enter new areas in previously completed levels that were not accessible before.
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