Just what I was thinking.
Each glitch deserves its own
I found this some years ago, too... but had completely forgotten! Thanks for the reminder, Ttj.
I guess they used an advanced graphical technique to do the alpha/motion effects for the electricity, and the SNES wasn't capable of suspending the state of it while the game was paused. Very interesting.
Edit: I just found that if you pause the game before the elecrtical arc has fully left the conductor/orb, the screen gets filled with electricity, but if it has already fully formed, you can pause the game, let it pass right through you, then unpause it and you'll be unharmed. That could actually be quite handy as a way to glitch your way to an easier victory.