First appearance: Gradius (Konami, ARC, 1985)
Distinguinshing characteristics: It has a really... big... core
Standard equipment: Galactispeed™ quantum reactor core; Paralleloslam forward energy cannons and point defense system; paired hyperspace engines
Weaknesses: Highly fragile forward reactor shaft; o’erweening sense of fairness

Profile by Jeremy Parish? | January 31, 2011

You have to hand it to the Bacterions: For genocidal megalomaniacs, they’re quite chivalrous.

Sure, the Empire spreads across known space like murderous locusts, slaughtering sentient life by the trillions. Sure, they dabble in temporal paradoxes that could potentially undermine the very fabric of space and time. And yes, the peoples they enslave rather than murder outright are subjected to centuries of brutality that erase their history and personality. But the Bacterions fight fair, and that’s something.

The Big Core is the frigate of the Bacterion fleet, the hard-working heavy cruiser of any squadron. Its armor is impregnable, it bristles with high-volume armament, and it makes the perfect forward command vessel for the Bacterion leadership. But the Empire, bent on conquest as it is, relishes a good fight. And so the Big Core has a blatant, naked vulnerability: its eponymous core.

The blue, jewel-like nucleus of the Big Core is a fragile reactor that powers the ship, easily overloaded. Bacterion’s engineers were eager to shield it properly, but high command found a certain amusement in leaving it semi-vulnerable, obviously located and lightly shielded with a direct access conduit. A determined enemy pilot can theoretically evade the Big Core’s hail of gunfire and chip away at the reactor—meaning that surviving multiple sorties at the helm of a Big Core is a true testament to the skills of its crew; a Big Core captain can expect a promotion within months, should they live.

Villains everywhere have followed the Bacterions’ example, building their otherwise indestructible juggernauts of death with carbuncle-like weak points. After all, anything less would simply be unsporting.

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