Flipbooks are just frames of an animation packed into one image, right?
I’m not aware of any other software having native support for this, but i know its quite easy to convert separate images to a flipbook in Unreal engine.
Pretty much all major 3d animation apps (max, maya, c4d, blender, …) have particles and you can buy plugins for them that have even more powerful particle systems or volumetrics and fluids.
For example: Max comes with particle flow which is nice, you can buy thinking particles for max too which is also very powerful… and if you need fluids you can get PhoenixFD (or FumeFX but FumeFX doesn’t do liquids currently, only smoke and fire)…
Not sure what the current state is of maya or cinema4d their particle system, but last time i checked max’s particle flow was superior.
Not sure about blender either… I know it has fluids but I have no clue how good they are… But its free so nothing stops you from checking it out.
BUT: if you’re going to focus on particles or any other FX related direction, Houdini is indeed your best bet. I don’t think there’s currently anything else out there that can beat it at that.
It has a steep learning curve though, that’s a direct consequence of it being so powerful (lots of control).