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 Spark.
In Real Life, of course, it's possible to achieve an explosion which simulates this effect. Only, usually, not as colorful as in the cartoons.
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.
Not to be confused with Happy Fun Ball.
- 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.
- Star Wars: Used in The Empire Strikes Back, only a couple of frames each time, with some notable examples being the TIE fighters that run into the asteroids or the bridge of the Star Destroyer that gets demolished.
- Doctor Who: The war between the Daleks and the Mechanoids in "The Chase" is full of these.
- The Kirby series almost always draws explosions like this.
- Shows up in MechCommander, surprisingly enough.
- 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.
- The original Star Wars Battlefront 2 had these as a cheat code, where any time a melee attack (such as a lightsaber or Wampa paw) connected, it would flash up one of these at the point of impact with a Written Sound Effect inside.
- Super Smash Bros. uses this on attack impacts, but it's usually so quick a player would either not notice or ignore it entirely in favor of continuing to play.
- Super Mario Bros. 2 has this for its explosions, with BOMB written in the center of it. The game Super Mario Bros. 2 is based on, Doki Doki Panic, has this too, but with BOM written in the center. The BOMB animation is also present in Super Mario World, when Mario is blowing up two of the Koopalings' castles.
- Kickle Cubicle did this too when the bomb enemy "Sparky" explodes.
- Many early fighting games including Street Fighter used these kinds of flashes for the impacts of attacks. Even though newer ones may have effects that don't even look like sparks, the term "hitspark" gradually became a nickname for them.
- All of the explosions caused by Roy and Simon during their cartoon battles in The Cartoon Man saga look like this.
- Made famous by Looney Tunes, especially the Road Runner shorts.
- Used all over the place on Rocky and Bullwinkle, usually whenever someone is getting blown up by a Cartoon Bomb (which is quite often.)
- The original Transformers cartoon has a couple of notable ones, specifically the episodes "Fire on the Mountain", and "Heavy Metal War".