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A trope seen in video games. Basically, a larger thing, be it a larger enemy, boss, an entire structure and sometimes even a planet, makes numerous smaller explosions scattered across its surface (often with regular time intervals) before finally making a big bang or just simply being destroyed.
Usually, mechanical constructions in Real Life don't have tens of parts that explode, especially at regular intervals. However, you might notice that many examples below are made from even less volatile material like concrete which isn't known to explode in real life at all. Some examples take it step further so now even characters made of meat and flesh can cause explosions in a similar manner, be it an alien or a pirate captain. Strangely, they often aren't carrying explosives or firecrackers with them either to justify these explosions.
It's also often observed that while explosions often appear in random places on the surface of the destroyed thing or character, they can also appear in the vicinity of the destroyed thing and not on the surface of this thing at all. Moreover, some of the exploding things themselves disappear right before the series of explosions occur, making you wonder how can explosion chain reaction occur out of thin air. That might forever be a mystery. Maybe the explosions happen because of Rule of Cool.
The origins of this trope are currently unknown but may have been initially used because of technical limitation of consoles. Making a big explosion with sprites only will bring a third generation console down to a crawl so several small explosions which appear at different time intervals, were used instead since it's much more resource-friendly to the console. Then it was noticed that it looked cool anyway and that's why we have it in games on much more powerful consoles.
The regularity of this trope is the most clearly seen in third generation and fourth generation video games with about every 16th NES game having explosions like these. After that period, the usage of this has been reduced slightly, but it's still almost always played straight since it is not very recognized trope. Usually, 2D games use chain explosions more often.
More than 3 explosions counts as this trope.
Simple destruction after or with the series of explosions
- The bosses in Act Raiser
- The bosses in Moon Crystal. It's strange because large part of the bosses are living creatures.
- Bosses in NES version of Joe & Mac. Notable that the bosses are dinosaurs.
- Bosses in 2D Sonic the Hedgehog games.
- Many, many bosses in Contra series. Sometimes applies to some of the other objects too.
- The final boss in TankForce.
- Bosses in Journey to Silius.
- One of the castles in Super Mario World.
- Several unit and building death animations in Starcraft II
- Half of the bosses in The Flintstones - The Rescue of Dino and Hoppy. Besides the final boss, other bosses are not mechanical at all. In the sequel, that won't happen since bosses seem to fall through the floor.
- Many minibosses in the original Mega Man series.
- Bosses in Mitsume ga Tooru.
- A few bosses of Conquest of the Crystal Palace.
- The final boss of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde NES game.
- Bosses in Faxanadu.
- Final boss in Galaga '88.
- Bosses and some of the larger structures in Godzilla Monster of Monsters.
- Bosses and walls in Heavy Barrel.
- Both phases of final boss in Jackal
- Bosses in Iron Tank.
- Bosses in Little Nemo the Dream Master.
- Bosses in Little Samson carry explosives around too in case they get killed.
- Bosses in Silent Assault.
- Bosses in Jazz Jackrabbit have red chain of explosions accompanied by sparks.
- A few bosses and minibosses in Legendary Wings.
- Minibosses and bosses in Low G Man.
- Third and both phases of the fifth boss in Mr. Gimmick.
- An octopus boss in Shantae: Risky's Revenge explodes that manner.
- Bosses in Ninja Gaiden NES games.
- Bosses in Ninja Crusaders.
- The final missile in Rush N Attack.
- A large robot dog and Shredder in the first Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles NES game.
- Every mechanical boss in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Turtles in Time.
- Bosses in S.C.A.T.. Rather long variation.
- Bosses in Section Z.
- Some of the smaller bosses in Shadow of the Ninja.
- Defensive walls in Shatterhand.
- Bosses in Silkworm.
- Bosses in Super Spy Hunter.
- Bosses in Star Soldier.
- Bosses in The Trolls In Crazyland
- Bosses in Ufouria. The Final Boss takes it Up to Sixteen.
- Secret of Evermore bosses get the "simple destruction" variation.
- Ellmac from La-Mulana, awkwardly, since he is a giant frill-necked lizard.
- 2/5 of the bosses in Vice - Project Doom.
- Sometimes happens in Castlevania series. For an example, in Castlevania: Symphony of the Night both at the end of the intro with Dracula and after beating the Bonus Boss Granfalodon.
- Numerous bosses in Gunstar Heroes series. Considering that even the regular enemies explode even in a more spectacular fashion than the enemies in Contra series, it's hardly surprising.
- Most of the bosses in Vectorman series.
- Many bosses in Metal Slug series.
- Bosses in Air Buster. Rather humble variety.
- Bosses in Arrow Flash.
- A lot of the bosses in Gargoyle's Quest series. One of its sequels, Demon's Crest, takes it further when even the regular enemies qualify.
- The floating island in the end of chapter 6 of Super Meat Boy with the help of Self-Destruct Mechanism.
- Cyborg Justice has every inch of the Final Boss explode 4 times.
- Bosses in De Cap Attack
- Bosses and minibosses in Dynamite Duke
- Many bosses, minibosses and pieces of scenery in Dynamite Headdy.
- Bosses in Earthworm Jim.
- Stronger enemies, minibosses and bosses in Alien Hominid.
- Most bosses in Earnest Evans.
- Bosses in Elemental Master.
- Bosses and barricades in Ex-Mutants.
- Bosses in Ghouls 'n Ghosts.
- Bosses in Granada.
- Larger enemies, barricades and bosses in Mercs.
- Final boss in Michael Jackson's Moonwalker.
- Bosses and in lesser extent, regular enemies in Madoo Granzort.
- Bosses in The Legend of Zelda a Link To T He Past.
- Twinmold in The Legend of Zelda Majoras Mask.
- Bosses in Super Bomberman.
- Bosses in Spin Master, organic ones included.
- Bosses in Blaster Master series.
- Minibosses, some bosses and some miscellaneous objects in X-Men Mutant Apocalypse.
- Numerous bosses in Metroid series.
- Bosses in Rocket Knight Adventures series.
- Bosses in Twinkle Tale.
- Some bosses in Kirby series are borderline that but a few of them (like Wham Bam bosses) are true examples. Explosions are replaced with pentagrams though.
- Bosses and minibosses in Axelay.
- First boss in Battletoads in Battlemaniacs
- Bosses in Imperium.
- Larger enemies in BIOMETAL.
- The first and third bosses of Bug!!.
- Except for the Teki trio, most bosses and stuff blows this way in Cannon Dancer.
- All bosses in two out of the three games which form part of Three Wonders: Midnight Wanderers and Chariot.
- Bosses in Forgotten Worlds.
- Most mini bosses and bosses in Run Saber.
- Bosses in Adventure Kingdom though, with one last large explosion in the end before destruction.
- Bosses and structures in Raptor: Call of the Shadows will suffer from multiple explosions once they have taken enough damage. The buildings themselves have sequential explosions that move from one end to the other, interestingly.
- Each time a Gargantua is killed in Half Life, its death is marked by a series of explosions.
- The Burrowing Snargets in Pikmin
- Bosses in Hydra Castle Labyrinth.
Series of explosions after destruction
- Minibosses and some of the stone walls in Iron Tank.
- Regular enemies in Gremlins 2, although the series of explosions is rather silent.
- Bosses in Kabuki Quantum Fighter.
- The final boss in Karnov
- Bosses and minibosses in Adventure Island II, III and IV.
- Bosses in Mechanized Attack.
- Bosses in Totally Rad.
- 3/5 of the bosses in Vice - Project Doom.
- A few of the bosses in Vectorman series.
- Regular enemies in Gaiares.
- Bosses in Hellfire.
- Some of the bosses in Lightening Force.
- Bosses in Syvalion.
- "Bosses" in Bit.Trip Beat.
- Larger enemies in Axelay.
- Bosses in Batman and Batman: Return of the Joker.
- In Tank Wars, one of the most satisfying things that could happen was seeing your post death explosion take out the tanks that killed you.
Big boom at the end
- Bosses in Donpachi.
- The main enemy base in the ending of Bionic Commando.
- The AK supertank boss in TankForce.
- Minibosses and bosses in Gun Nac.
- Bosses in Radiant Silvergun and Ikaruga.
- Bigger bosses in Shadow Of The Ninja.
- Bosses and a few minibosses in Shatterhand.
- Capital chips in Zanac.
- In Super Robot Wars, almost everyone explodes with several small explosions followed by a big one. Even living beings like the Radam beasts.
- A few bosses in Demon's Crest.
- Bosses in Mushihime-sama series.
- Bosses in Gaiares.
- Bosses in M.U.S.H.A..
- Bosses and minibosses in Purple do this with stars instead of flames.
- The first planet in Super Metroid.
- Many bosses from Fraxy.
- A planet at the beginning of S.C.A.T..
- Bosses in BIOMETAL.
- Bosses in Raiden games.
- Major Cave Story and Guxt bosses.
- Star Fox 64 has the train boss crashing into a weapons depot in The Scottish Planet, demonstrating the (at the time) newfangled rumble feature like few games have since. Made all the more satisfying in that going to the planet and the train's demise are both optional.
- Everything bigger than a fighter in Free Space. The bigger the ship, the more little explosions go off before the big boom that typically splits the whole ship in half.
- Bosses in The Legend of Zelda the Minish Cap and The Legend of Zelda Four Swords Adventures.
- Bosses in Seiken Densetsu 3.
- Bosses in Hero Core.
Series of explosions followed by big white flash
- Bosses in Secret of Mana.
- Bosses in the Mega Man X series.
- Some bosses in Cave Story.
- Some bosses in Hydorah.
- The Magician in House of the Dead.
Series of explosions followed by something other
- Final boss transforms back in to normal Dr. Chaos after series of explosions.
- Without actually exploding himself, Balrog from Cave Story does this.
- Tor's Humongous Mecha in Iji first has various parts exploding, then what's left disappears with the same special effect it appeared with.
Examples from Other Media
Anime & Manga
- In Gundam Wing, Space Fortress Barge does this after having its main cannon cleaved open by Zechs Merquise and Epyon's beam saber.
- Sesshoumaru's true sword, Bakusaiga, utterly destroys everything it cuts, and everything that touches what it cuts.
- Two examples from Star Wars:
Live Action TV
- In the Stargate Verse it is a preferable destruction animation of ships destruction but these explosions hardly count as small.
- Power Rangers Monster of the Week types tend to spark a lot before dramatically falling and then going up in a huge ball of explodium.
- Fireworks factory and fireworks storage explosions are some of the closest it's possible to get to this trope without deliberately setting it up.