Destroy the core!
~ Gradius's announcer.

The Core Warships are a series of recurring bosses from the Gradius series. These warships were created by the Bacterians to serve as their first line of defense. They are all identified by the initals "B.E.S.", meaning "Bacterion Empire Ship'.

These warships are all comprised of one or more cores, which posesses some level of AI, protected by a series of barriers. The only way of destroying them is by crushing the barriers, thus exposing the core which becomes vulnerable.

Big Core

The Big Core is the most basic core warship, and also the one over which all others are modeled after. It has four side guns which it uses for shooting lasers and a single core in the middle.
The Big Core MK-II is the first revision of the original Big Core. He has two cores instead of one and a external shielding. By opening his two shields, he can cover a much wider area, though his cores becomes exposed as well.

(This is the 7th boss of Gradius II)

The second revison of Big Core, Big Core MK-III has three cores, with one of them protected by the other two. Its shield can fire two large beams to trap the player, then fire two small lasers that ricochet on the beams.

(This is the 3rd boss of Gradius III)

The last revision of the Big Core, Big Core MK-IV has four cores. It can detach the two side cores to attack on angles, by launching the tips which create a magnetic beam of electricity.

Big Core variants

The Big Core Rev. 1.2 is a small variant of the Big Core, which adds a large ring to its sides. The ring have six small turrets which shoots ripples, and it can also shoot a twin beam to trap enemies inside.

(This is the 1st boss of Gradius V)

Another small variant, the Big Core Duo works just like a regular Big Core, but it can detach its sides to cover a wider area, as well as shooting a huge beam.

(This is the 4th boss of Gradius ReBirth)

The Big Core Kai is a smaller version of the Big Core MK-II. It can shoot ripple lasers, and is better armoured. When you take out a core, his pincer will be destroyed.
The Neo Big Core can fire a wide laser on its front, as well as shooting mini-nukes. Upon destruction it is blow up by its own nukes.
The last variant of the Big Core, the Genocide Core has two cores, attacking with a powerful laser and various missiles, either straight forward, spread or homing.

Venom Warships

The Venom Warships are small variants of the Big Core, created by Dr. Venom to be piloted by his Wreekian fellows. Each one uses a different weaponry, but they all work like the regular Big Core. The Metalion ship is able to infiltrate them and steal their weapon from the inside.


The Tetran is a Core Warship equipped with four mechanical tentacles which rotate around the ship, serving both for offense and defense. The tentacles can shoot, as well as squeeze to make a whipping attack. Like the Big Core, it also has some variants.

(This is the 2nd boss of Salamander)

The Zylom is a unique organic variant of Tetran. It is a brain-like creature with plant-like arms. It behaves just like the regular Tetran.
The Laser Tetran changes the tentacles for fixed arms that spin around. They can shoot huge lasers, which move in a swastika-like pattern.
The Tenny Rop is much like the regular Tetran, except it has a circular armor protecting the core, which makes hitting it very difficult.

(This is the 4th boss of Salamander 2)

The last Tetran variant, the Covered Tetran is better armoured, but behaves like the original. Its tentacles can be destroyed, but the remaining tentacles will start spinning faster, making it more difficult to destroy it.

Other Core Warships

The Crystal Core, as his name implies, is a Core Warship made of crystal. He has two frontal tentacles used for both offense and defense. He shoots lasers from the guns in the front and from the tentacles.

(This is the 3rd boss of Gradius II)

The Desert Core has three cores, one of which only opens after the other two are destroyed. He uses two tentacles which he buries in the sand to attack from different directions. He can also launch homing missiles and shoot lasers.

(This is the 6th boss of Gradius II)

The Covered Core has an external shell which rotates around it, protecting the core from damage. It attacks by shooting a volley of rockets.
The Lizard Core has two frontal arms which cover a wide frontal area. They can be extended and swung, as well as shoot the regular lasers.

(This is the 8th boss from Gradius III)

The Dellinger Core has a segmented shielding that cover the entire ship. Each segment of the shield has a turret attached to it, allowing to cover the entire screen with lasers. He can also shoot in angles by positioning the shield accordingly.
The Shining Core bursts out of a huge crystal. He has four arms that generate a huge aurora beam. It also attacks by scattering small sparks all over.

(This is the 3rd boss of Gradius Gaiden)

The Kraken comes out of a huge black-hole, and is unnafected by its gravitational pull, in spite the fact he comes out of it. He uses his two tentacles to grab meteors which protect him, as well as shoot lasers.

This is the 7th boss of Gradius Gaiden

The Parasite Core has a series of mechanical tentacles on his back, which he utilizes to attach two Death units to himself. In case the Deaths are destroyed, the tentacles can shoot small lasers to help on the offense.
The Deltatry is a fast Core Warship, which shoots thin lasers as well as summon huge fire dragons that pursue the enemy. When defeated, the dragons turn on against him and destroy him. He is based on the player ship from the game Trigon/Lightning Fighters.
The Juggler Core has two arms which he utilizes to carry two circular units. He can juggle the units, which can shoot lasers diagonally, and can also shoot homing missiles.
The Heaven's Gate is very similar to the Big Core MK-II, except it has only one core. Aside from the regular lasers, it can also shoot thin lasers which are very difficult to dodge, as they come with a delay.
The Boost Core has propulsors which allow him to fly at high speeds. He is heavily armoured, though his armour can be removed little by little. His back armor allows him to smash through walls.
The Terra Core hides himself inside a large meteor. He behaves just like the regular Big Core, but he can also summon smaller meteors.

(This is the 1st boss of Gradius Galaxies)

The Bolboros is comprised of two separated Core Warships which act in tandem. Once one is destroyed, the remaining one will attack more recklessly.

(This is the 4th boss of Gradius Galaxies.)

The Perla Meralda is the Core Warship with the most barriers protecting her core. She can fire the regular lasers, as well as two beams to trap the enemy while she shoots rockets.

(This is the 7th boss of Gradius Galaxies)

The Rexion Core has multiple side units which he uses for offense, all equipped with different weapons. He can be repaired by a huge ship that attaches itself to the Rexion Core.
The Bubble Core has the regular lasers, but he is equipped with two side cannons which he uses to throw water bubbles.

(This is the 3rd boss of Gradius IV)

The Rolling Core is a versatile Core Warship composed of two parts that act semi-inedependently. The outer part automatically aims at the enemy, while the inner part can turn on his side and fire a huge beam or launch homing missiles. His guns can be destroyed, but they regenerate shortly after.

This is the 7th boss of Gradius IV

The Vanishing Core utilizes his four searchlights to spot the enemy. Once they are locked on into the enemy, the core launches a volley of homing missiles. He can also shoot a four way laser.
The Berserker Core has two supporting units that aid him in battle. All of them attack by using auto-aimable lasers. If the side units are destroyed, the Berserker Core will become more relentless, moving and firing much faster.
The Planet Core can fire beams in all directions, as well as spin around and fire lasers and mines, which spin along with the ship.
The Blaster Cannon Core have six side cannons, which it uses to shoot a volley of bullets that are very hard to dodge. Not only that, it can also change the gravitational pull on the area, attracting meteorites to itself.

(This is the 5th boss of Gradius V)

The Circle Core utilizes a large metal cage to trap the enemies. Once inside, he rolls around while releasing turrets. He can also rotate the cage and bounce around.


The Death is a series of Warships, contaning a single core protected only by a frontal shield. It opens the shield to release missiles, and when it is destroyed it shoots large beams. Death received small upgrades, which gave it homing missiles and lasers and the ability to spin.
The Beta Core is a very simple Warship, having a single core. He is surrounded by a water bubble, which he uses to protect himself as well as attack by shooting small bubbles.
The Killer Dwarf is unique organic Warship, made of a vegetal creature. He shoots cluster bullets and can grow a arm that releases amoebas.
The Beacon is a Warship containing five cores. He moves in high speeds, shooting laser beams from the cores and dropping napalm bombs.

(This is the 9th boss of Gradius III.)

The Nobil is a small Warship with a single core, protected by a small shield. He has four tentacles, which he uses to grab junk to shield himself as well as extend to attack the enemy. He can also shoot a four-way laser. This ship is piloted by a Zelos Force.

(This is one of the 2nd bosses of Gradius Gaiden)

The Triple Core is a trio of ship brothers who act together. They can shoot a electric beam to form a cage and trap the enemy while shooting various bullets. When only one is left, he will attack by shooting a huge laser beam.
Despite its name, the Covered Core MK-II is very different from the original Covered Core. It has from 5 up to 14 cores total, all of which rotate inside the ship, while the shield itself remains still, though it can also rotate. Not only it shoots a volley of rockets, it can also fire lasers while spinning.
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