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Gems are one of the main collectible items in the Crash Bandicoot series. They first appear in the first game, Crash Bandicoot. In most of their appearances, gems have a role in the game's story, so their purpose is different for each game. In nearly every platform game, Crash can obtain a level's gem by breaking every Crate in that level. The gems are required for completing the game, and collecting all of them often unlocks a better ending.
The Gems are always used for good, unlike the crystals, which are often attempted to be used for evil. Most gems are clear gray, but there are also Colored Gems, often found in sets of five, which usually includes a red, yellow, green, blue, and purple gem each. These serve as platforms or lifts to secret areas.
In Crash Bandicoot, the Gems are achieved by both breaking all of the crates in a level and getting through it without losing a single life. Crash uses the gems as a passageway to rescue Tawna Bandicoot.
In Crash Bandicoot 2: Cortex Strikes Back, the gems are used as a power source for Dr. Nitrus Brio's laser to prevent Dr. Neo Cortex from obtaining them. Starting with this game, the Colored Gems are hidden, and getting through a level without losing a life is not required to achieve them. However, it has been replaced by "death platforms" (platforms with a skull) that are only accessible by not losing a life. They also unlock "gem platforms" that also have a clear gem a the end.
In Crash Team Racing and Crash Nitro Kart, there is no Clear Gems, only the five Colored Gems, which are achieved by winning their respective Cups, which are unlocked by collecting all their respective Tokens. The Yellow Gem is absent from Crash Nitro Kart.
In Crash Bash, all the Gems are green in color, and are achieved by winning a mini-game in the allotted time, usually with the odds against you.
In Crash Bandicoot Purple: Ripto's Rampage, the Gems are achieved by winning Bonus Rounds and breaking all of the Crates in a mini-game.
In Crash Twinsanity, the Colored Gems (plus a Clear Gem) are hidden in each level. Unlike its predecessors, the gems are not obtained by breaking every crate. After obtaining every gem, an FMV is unlocked.