This is an attempt to create different gun and missile trails for the game, to better show off which weapon is being used at any particular time. These specific styles may not have made it to the finished game, but the spirit certainly did!
This is part of a series of beautiful Wing Commander Arena concept images graciously provided by Gaia Industries. You can find the original article here. You can thank the guys at Gaia by picking up Street Trace NYC on Xbox Live Arcade!