low-res mid-90s game explosions

I’m making a spiritual successor to the games Descent and Descent II. I’m trying to make explosion sprites (rather oldschool, low-res ones; Blender’s smoke/fire sim won’t work here). I’m trying to at first emulate the ones in Descent/II to the best of my ability, then add my own touches. There are two kinds I need, and this video is a good reference for what they should look like. The first needs to look like the ones when a robot explodes. The second needs to look like the ones when a missile, proximity bomb, plasma ball, etc explodes (a good example of this is ~15:25). I’m having trouble approaching this. I’m willing to bet procedural textures set to displacement maps will be involved, but from there I’m pretty clueless. I don’t think I will need help with the materials. Can someone lead me in the right direction? Thanks.

What you are looking for is Blender billboard. It is a function under particle system. The effect is produced using short lived particle with animated texture. Here is tutorial on it with earlier version of Blender:

Here is other one: http://vimeo.com/1412840