The April 8th, 1996 prototype of Crash Bandicoot is a preview version dated over three months before the final NTSC-U release version. It was released in October 12th, 2011.
Although not accessible through attempting to use the level modifier 02 on the internal level list, the code refers to a "level2", which Andy Gavin claims was a level known as Lava Cave, which was one of the first levels produced for the game. Allegedly, the level was cut for multiple reasons, including that it used up too much memory due to the immense amount of polygons, that it didn't synergize well with the game's linear style of platforming and that the color of the lava severely distracted from Crash's vibrant orange color.
"Our first two test levels "the jungle, level1" and "lava cave, level2" were abysmal, and neither shipped in the final game. First of all, they were too open with way too many polygons. Level1 had over 10 million, whereas a shipping level tended to have around a million (a lot back then). Level2 was better, but not much."
"There are no lava levels, a staple in character action games, because Crash is orange. We made one in Demo, and that ended the lava debate. It was not terribly dissimilar to trying to watch a black dog run in the yard on a moonless night."
But we can still see the level itself, using a customized tool. The interesting fact is that this level is 100% textured (but with only 10% of the polygons), unlike other cut levels. In fact, one can even get a close approximation of when they were last modified: sometime before December 1995, as the level lacks any vertex shading (used to add color to the scenery).
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