I really like neon effects, and after watching your pixel perfect one, I think I have some feedback for you :
Your effect is made of 2 distinct parts; the red anticipation and the blue burst (with also some dissipation with these small particles)
For me, it seems like these two main parts are not bound and the only thing they have in common are their cube shapes.
What can you do to link them better ?
I would say, try to play with colors for example. Your parts are both monochromatic and maybe they lacks from some secondary elements with complementary colors (square particles?), or some shades, darker versions, etc… It’s up to you to play with the things that you prefer, there is no an unique “perfect” result
The square shapes are nice and fits well with the theme, however your fading particles at the end are a bit too small and their motion with some random direction brings some chaos to your effect (that could be a nice thing to have in some classic explosion, fire, etc… but in your effect everything is made of squares and nothing is going in that chaotic way); this kind of secondary element is nice to have, but they should amplify the global motion & feeling of your main parts : 4 clusters of cubes going in 4 directions, scaling up then down with some randomness like beat equalizer bars (sounds nice ).
Your burst happening at the center is one big block of squares, and it should have more attention : the fact that it blends with the 4 clusters of squares is really nice, but maybe you need to add another element to it to make it more like the powerful “center” of your effect; this could be achieved with secondary elements and/or changing something with the colors, because actually all the squares of the central block are expanding the same way with the same timing.
Another thing you can think about is the transition beteen the two phases : you can choose to make it quite seamless, or wait like 1 second before the burst to explode. Right now, your red anticipation is scaling down but you can exaggerate it. Don’t be afraid of making amplified anticipations
About motion & timing of your effect : on the first part, you decided to make a rotation on this little square, but this is the only thing having a rotation in your effect, maybe there’s a cool link to create between the anticipation rotation and the burst ? Imagine if the 4 square bursts were rotating too, that could be nice ! Or think about something completely different, instead of the rotation.
Also, I feel like your anticipation could be less linear and faster, this cube scaling up to the top is too slow (except if it symbolizes some gameplay feature), and could have a better motion to make it feel more “dangerous”, or more “satisfying”, or even something else, it depends on what feeling you want to send to the potential players of your potential game q:
Advice : play with curves a lot !
Timing is a cool science, and by far my favorite of all the domains that vfx can cover. Keep in mind that with this kind of effect (no textures, no complex shaders, no game background to integrate your effect, etc…) timing is one of your best friends to make a great effect that appeals the players and give to them the feelings you want to share.
One of my favorites videos is this awesome series about the 12 principles of Animation by Alan Becker. It should brings you a lot of really cool knowledge, and these principles will always be useful for every vfx artist ever, and even more if you create some animated sprite sheets by hand.
Well, I hope I don’t forget anything important !
Also, if you plan to participate to future vfx sketchs, you should create a new topic and post your work in progress ! People here really like to see how you can bring an idea and build around it until you have a final result.
Don’t hesitate if you have any questions