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This is your standard Limited Animation method of drawing an explosion: as a spikey ball. Usually several such, concentric and multi-colored. Expect some smoke too.
This effect can also be used to accentuate any heavy or significant impact, such as a blow to the head. See also Hit Flash.
If you don't know what a Koosh Ball is, basically it's a ball of rubber spaghetti used as a safer alternative to rubber balls when soft impacts are desired and bouncing is not. "Koosh" represents the sound effect the thing makes when it hits a surface.
- Used in The Empire Strikes Back (only a couple of frames each time).
- Such an effect is animated on top of live action footage, in order to show the Penguin's submarine is hit in Batman: The Movie.
- The Kirby series almost always draws explosions like this.
- Shows up in Mech Commander, surprisingly enough.
- Super Smash Brothers does this.
- The cel-shaded The Legend of Zelda the Wind Waker draws its explosions something like this, although the aftereffect of stylized curly smoke is more prominent.
- Used as an impact effect in the Donkey Kong Country series whenever any character gets hit.
- Super Mario Bros 2 has this for its explosions, with BOMB written in the center of it.
- The game it's based on, Doki Doki Panic, has this too, but with BOM written in the center.
- The NES puzzle game Kickle Cubicle did this too when the bomb enemy "Sparky" explodes.
- Made famous by Looney Tunes, especially Road Runner shorts.
- Fireworks displays may be viewed as an attempt to invoke this look.