- This article is about the machine. For the level of the same name, see Cortex Vortex (level).
“We are closer than ever before! Quickly, into the vortex!"
"But Doctor Cortex, the vortex is not ready. We have no idea what it could do!”
—Cortex and Brio arguing about using the unfinished Cortex Vortex, Crash Bandicoot
The Cortex Vortex's first appearance was in the game Crash Bandicoot. It was designed to make any creature exposed to it obey Cortex completely, and when combined with the Evolvo-Ray, it could also create an army of mutant soldiers for world conquest. The interior of the Cortex Vortex is lined with television screens that spin around the subject like a vortex. The screens then broadcast and feed signals directly into the subject’s brain, theoretically turning them into Cortex’s mindless slave. However, the Vortex was still at the prototype stage, and while it did imprint some loyalty to Cortex on its mutant subjects (at least until later games), it also gave them distinct personalities due to the signals the machine broadcasts (Ripper Roo became a giggling maniac, Koala Kong a flexing narcissist, and Pinstripe Potoroo a trigger-happy paranoid).
Despite all this, Cortex insisted on using it on his newest mutant, Crash Bandicoot who was to lead his "Cortex Commandos" into world domination. However, the machine rejected Crash, who used the opportunity to escape the castle. Cortex deemed his experiment with Crash a failure and was going to subject Tawna Bandicoot to the Vortex instead. Crash arrived in time to stop Cortex by somehow burning down his castle, which presumably destroyed the Cortex Vortex, and saved Tawna.
Immediately after the events of the first game, Cortex discovered a new power source he could use to succeed in his plans: Crystals. After spending a year building a new and improved Cortex Vortex (one which would be big enough to enslave the planet), his new right hand man, Dr. N. Gin informs him that he has only found the "Master Crystal" and 25 more "Slave Crystals" are needed to power the machine. With no other operatives to assist him, Cortex tricks Crash into gathering the crystals, claiming that it will help the world survive a solar flux that has enough power to tear the Earth apart. However when Crash gathers all 25 crystals, Coco managed to revealed Cortex's true intentions: to harness the solar flux's energy with the crystals then use it to power his new Cortex Vortex and brainwash the entire world. His lies exposed, Cortex tries to escape with the crystals to the Cortex Vortex, but Crash defeats him and leaves him stranded in deep space. Afterwards Crash gave the 42 Gems he gathered to Dr. Nitrus Brio who then used them to destroy the Cortex Vortex.
The Cortex Vortex had a very minor, but important role in Crash Bandicoot: Warped. A piece of the Vortex (the space station that was attached to it) plummeted down to Earth, colliding with an ancient temple and freeing the evil Uka Uka from his imprisonment.
In addition to a level in the last warp room being named Cortex Vortex, the spaceship in which Cortex's meeting is held in at the beginning of the game is likely to be a newly-built Cortex Vortex. Upon creating, and then empowering, his super weapon (which later is revealed to be Crunch Bandicoot), it is likely that Dr. Neo Cortex used this newly-built Cortex Vortex to brainwash his super weapon into a slave. In which he had brainwashed previous animals as well.
Though it didn't appear, more on its construction was revealed. According to one Ratnician, after Uka Uka met Cortex, he gave Cortex some of his Mojo to aid in his plans for world conquest. Later on Cortex and N. Brio used the Mojo to build the original Cortex Vortex.
The original Cortex Vortex is seen in the remastered version of the game Crash Bandicoot and the second Vortex is seen in its sequels. They both served the same purposes as the original games.
The Cortex Vortex appears in Dansu! De Jump! Na Daibouken known as the Base Station. It's designed to look like the Cortex Vortex Space Station from Crash Bandicoot 2, but it's much smaller. It has the Vortex Dome on a flat surface with a ray gun that looks like the Evolvo Ray. N. Gin controls the ship while Cortex is out helping Crash get the Power Stones to power the laser cannon.
- The Cortex Vortex can be seen in a portrait in the level War of the Whirls in Crash of the Titans.
- A level in Crash Bandicoot: The Wrath of Cortex is also called Cortex Vortex.
- After defeating Cortex in Crash Bandicoot 2, the Naughty Dog logo can be seen on one of its wings.
- The device has a very poor success rate as nearly all of its subjects have abandoned Cortex's plans or even outright betrayed him at some point.
- In a prototype of the first game, the Main Menu shows Tawna being sent to the Cortex Vortex.
- Curiously, Tiny Tiger, despite supposedly working for N. Brio at the time, has a personalised boss lair inside the Cortex Vortex Space Station in the second game. In a twist of irony, Tiny would later prove more loyal to Cortex than any actual subject of the Vortex itself.