Multiform Balance

Multiform Balance occurs when creators take care to make each multiple form of a Shapeshifter, such as a Henshin Hero, a Swiss Army Hero or a Morph Weapon-type Swiss Army Weapon, useful in its own way. The easiest way to do this is to make each one suited for a certain tactical situation or to use certain tactics. For example a werewolf doing a Partial Transformation to Wolf Man may not be able to talk, but can still use weapons and has greater strength than a man, but isn't as fast as a wolf.

In essence, it's applying Competitive Balance between each of the character (or weapon)'s forms. In fact, the character types laid out in Competitive Balance or other power balancing tropes can be quite useful in describing the character's forms. To be precise, the "balance" usually only apply to "basic" forms, with Joke Character form is only used when the character doesn't have access to the basic forms. Lightning Bruiser and Super Mode are mostly a Mid-Season Upgrade and superior to basic forms in every aspect, if the balance also apply to these forms, it's usually by making them Deadly Upgrade, Limit Break, Hour of Power or Awesome, but Impractical.

Related to Stance System, which each forms being considered as different "stances". May overlap with Evolution Powerup, especially if new forms are gained/discovered as the plot demands, although Multiform Balance can switch back and forth. When Humongous Mecha use this trope, it's usually done with Mecha Expansion Pack or Transforming Mecha. May also be done with Shed Armor, Gain Speed.


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    Anime and Manga 

  • Hyodou Issei in High School D×D gets one later in Volume 9 when he gets access to his new powers named Illegal Trianna, aside from his default Balance Breaker state. His Welsh Sonic Boost Knight is the typical Fragile Speedster, his Welsh Blaster Bishop is the Glass Cannon, Welsh Draconic Rook being the Mighty Glacier, and finally his (incomplete) Cardinal Crimson Queen being the Lightning Bruiser.
  • Animorphs: While each of the kids have their own unique morphs, there are several occasions when they've morphed the same animal (sometimes to exploit the fact that the animal goes into a stupor when being acquired, long enough for them to escape, like the hammerhead shark or the T. rex). The inverse of the trope bites them in the ass when they attack the Yeerk pool all in polar bear morph and nearly die.

    Live Action TV 

    Kamen Rider 
This trope is a tradition for modern Kamen Rider series.


    Tabletop Game 
  • Werewolf: The Forsaken. Each of a Uratha's five forms has its uses and weaknesses.
    • The Hishu (human) form is most likely to pass among mortals and best suited for social dealings.
    • The Dalu (wolf-man) form allows added strength while retaining human form, but still pings Lunacy a little.
    • The Gauru (monster two-legged wolf) form is the strongest, most damaging form, but can only be used for a limited time and is locked in a state of rage that makes any action but attacking something a failure.
    • The Urshul (dire wolf) form is fastest of all and quite strong, but will still ping Lunacy heavily.
    • The Urhan (wolf) form will blend in most easily in nature and could maybe pass for a wolfdog in urban environments.
      • The four bestial forms can also be seen as references to different archetypes of werewolf transformation. Urhan clearly owes its lineage to most forms of actual mythological depictions of the werewolf. Dalu is based on the iconic "wolfman" form of film, first seen in Universal Horror's The Wolf Man (1941). Urshul arguably has some mythological basis, but can most easily be connected to the werewolf as depicted in An American Werewolf in London. Finally, Gauru resembles the now-iconic "manwolf" that has become heavily associated with werewolves in modern culture and which can be arguably traced back to film via The Howling.

    Video Games 
  • Wonder Boy III: The Dragon's Trap features this as its central hook, with the hero spent virtually the entire game involuntarily transformed into various animal-like creatures, each featuring unique abilities.
  • The old Electronic Arts game Shadowcaster features a lead that could form pacts with various creatures to "accept the form of X", each form having its own uses.
  • A Boy and His Blob allows the boy control over his Mons forms with jellybeans.
  • Pokémon
    • The Legendary Deoxys has various forms with differing distributions of stats. Normal Forme is the Jack-of-All-Stats form, Attack Forme is the Glass Cannon form, Defense Forme is the Stone Wall form, and Speed Forme is the Fragile Speedster form.
    • Generation V's Darmanitan has a normal form that is a Glass Cannon, but when certain Darmanitans' Hit Points go below half they automatically switch to Zen Mode, which is a Mighty Glacier. This was a poorly-done attempt, though - all the damage is received before the switch, and getting knocked out in one hit is not too unlikely in the glass cannon form. Even if they do survive, the higher defensive stats are not very useful with less than half Hit Points left.
    • Generation VI introduces the Steel/Ghost sword Aegislash. Its Shield Forme is a Stone Wall. As soon as it uses an attack, it turns into the Glass Cannon Sword Forme. Using its Signature Move King's Shield turns it back into Shield Forme.
    • A Zygarde with all 100 of its Cells and Cores is capable of switching between 10% Forme, a fast but frail canine, or the bulkier and slower serpentine 50% Forme. Either forme will have the Power Construct ability, which tranforms Zygarde into the even bulkier Complete Forme once it Turns Red.
    • Rotom has 5 alternate forms, each with a different typing based on appliances: Normal Rotom (Electric/Ghost), Heat Rotom (Electric/Fire), Wash Rotom (Electric/Water), Fridge Rotom (Electric/Ice), Fan Rotom (Electric/Flying) and Mow Rotom (Electric/Grass).
    • Both Arceus and Silvally can have different forms for ALL typings in the game.
  • Kingdom Hearts II has its Valor and Wisdom Forms spiking the player's physical and magical stats (respectively) at the cost of the other. Then comes Master Form and Final Form, which balance melee attacks and magic by making both of them highly effective.
  • Mega Man (Classic): Mega Man's ability to fuse with Rush in Mega Man 6, creating the Power and Jet Adapters. In Mega Man 7, the abilities of both adapters are compressed into a single, Super adapter.
  • Mega Man X's ability to switch between different armors in some of his games. The armors vary between each game, but Ultimate Armor would be consistent.
  • Mega Man Zero 2, Zero starts out as a Master of None (Normal), but fulfilling certain conditions in a mission unlocks specialized upgrades: Fragile Speedster (Active), Mighty Glacier (Energy and Power), Stone Wall (Defense and Erase), Lightning Bruiser (Rise and X), Glass Cannon (Proto) and finally, Super Mode (Ultimate).
  • Mega Man ZX Advent: This game allows you to take on the boss' forms after you defeat them. Your normal untransformed form and the bonus form "Model a" are Joke Characters (armed only with a non-chargeable buster and cannot dash), Mega Man forms are Jack-of-All-Stats, Bifrost form is a Mighty Glacier, Argoyle and Hedgeshock forms are Fragile Speedsters, Buckfire form is a Lightning Bruiser, Queenbee and Vulturon forms are Stone Walls (with their weak attacks and ability to fly, Queenbee is longer-ranged while Vulturon is shorter-ranged), and Chronoforce and Rospark are gimmickynote .
  • Druid shapeshifting in World of Warcraft could be considered this, with forms tailored to each of their four talent specialisations plus a couple of utility forms. The default form (AKA "caster" form) is for the Combat Medic and specialization adds a temporary Tree Form with even more enhanced healing. Cat form is a Fragile Speedster that deals damage. Bear form is a Stone Wall specialising in getting attention of enemies from more squishy members of the group. Moonkin form (available via talent specialization; caster form suffices before that) is a Glass Cannon Squishy Wizard. While all Druids have access to Bear Form and Cat Form, they don't work very well for non-Feral or Guardian Druids.
  • Kheldians in City of Heroes are another example, though they don't start out with all the forms. Nova form is a Glass Cannon, Dwarf form is a Stone Wall, and with the basic human form being somewhere in between, and having a much greater choice of attacks, including the ability to deal decent damage at close range. Some players try to specialise in only one form, but by most accounts the best choice is to make use of all three forms, swapping as necessary.
    • Unfortunately due to the way powers and slots worked actually using all three forms for combat wasn't practical. Instead most Kheldians were built to fight using only the Nova and Dwarf forms while occasionally dropping into Human form to apply buffs. The exceptions to this tends to eschew forms entirely, simply sticking with the basic human form.
  • The various offensive shapeshifting powers in [PROTOTYPE] are balanced like this. Claws are quite fast and have a slow ranged attack composed of spikes erupting from the ground and impaling the target from below, Musclemass is only useful for making long ranged attacks so it is almost wothless in close-combat, Hammerfist gives massively devastating splash damage attacks with really slow speed, the Whipfist has awesome range, anti-air attacks and crowd control capabilities in exchange for power and the Blade is similar to the Claws but replaces the latter's impalement attack with a brutally powerful aerial attack that can One-Hit Kill tanks.
  • Breath of Fire IV: When Ryu transforms, whichever form he chooses provides a percentage boost to his stats, resulting in the following arrangements: Master of None (Aura), Jack-of-All-Stats (Wyvern/Weyr), Mighty Glacier (Behemoth/Mammoth), Lightning Bruiser (Myrmidon/Knight), Glass Cannon (Mutant/Punk) and Super Mode (Kaiser). Fou-lu's dragons roughly follow the same percentage boosts as Ryu's; just replace Aura, Wyvern and Kaiser with Astral, Serpent and Tyrant (Fou-lu doesn't have Myrmidon or Mutant, and he has a Behemoth like Ryu), respectively.
  • Marvel: Avengers Alliance
    • The player character Agent starts as a Master of None (Generalist) and can switch to any of five other classes — Glass Cannon (Blaster), Lightning Bruiser (Scrapper), Mighty Glacier (Bruiser), Jack-of-All-Stats (Tactician), Fragile Speedster (Infiltrator) — by buying and equipping the appropriate uniform. Tactical Rock-Paper-Scissors is in play, so each of those classes has an advantage over one class and a disadvantage against a second. The Agent can also remain as a Generalist, neither weak nor strong against any class.
    • Several heroes have alternate costumes, and a change in costume also means a change in class. (ex.: Spider-Man, an Infiltrator by default, can also become either a Scrapper with his Future Foundation outfit, or don the Black Suit, turning into a Bruiser.)
    • Punisher has the ability to switch classes at will, each class has its own attack unique from the other and can be either target single or group enemies.
  • Super Smash Bros. Wii U/3DS has Shulk. He's a Mechanically Unusual Fighter whose playstyle centers around a Stance System composed of 5 Monado Arts. Each of those arts boost one of his stats for a few seconds at the cost of reducing others. For example, "Jump" increases his jump distance while lowering his defense, and "Smash" increases his launch ability at the cost of weaker attacks and lower defense against launching.
  • Robotech: Battlecry features Transforming Mecha like the rest of the franchise, though it boils down the transformations to a few basic points.
    • The offensively-minded Fighter is the fastest of the three forms and packs the most raw firepower since it uses the largest missiles, but is the least agile due to requiring a large turning circle and has a very limited ability to use cover, relying on pure speed instead.
    • The defensive Battloid form is the slowest in terms of movement and is unable to use missiles, but is the most agile form due to its ability to put cover between itself and enemies and possesses both the best anti-missile defense and the most accurate ranged attack.
    • The middle of the road Gerwalker mode can both use cover and fire missiles while being faster than the Battloid and more nimble than the Fighter, but it lacks the defenses of the former and the speed of the latter, making it the form most vulnerable to enemy attacks.
  • Plants vs. Zombies 2: It's About Time has two examples:
    • The Red Stinger changes its form depending on its position on the lawn. When it's near the house, it will be a Glass Cannon. Near the middle, it gains extra defense but fires half as fast as a Jack-of-All-Stats. When it's far from the house, it will become a Stone Wall unable to attack. However, it's quite bad at defending, as it's unable to take as much damage as a proper wall.
    • The Nightshade has two modes of attack depending on whether there's a Moonflower nearby to power it up. When uncharged, it's a Close-Range Combatant that slaps zombies for heavy damage, using up one of its three petals in the process. When it's charged, it becomes a Long-Range Fighter that will fire out and regenerate these petals, at the cost of dealing halved damage.
  • Heroes of the Storm: This is Varian's entire gimmick. He starts out as a Master of None for the first 9 levels, but once he hits 10, he can choose between one of three Heroics to specialize. Taunt increases his health but lowers his attack speed and gives him a brief stun ability, Colossus Smash increases his attack damage but lowers his health and gives him an armour-weakening leap, and Twin Blades of Fury increases his attack speed but lowers attack damage and gives him extra movement speed after he hits a basic attack. Each of them are watered-down versions of the archetypal character of that role, and Varian's strength comes from his ability to fill any slot his team needs.
  • Final Fantasy X-2's version of the series' Job System allows the three playable characters to switch jobs (in this game, called dresspheres) even in the midst of battle as the situation calls for it, courtesy of the Garment Grid system.

  • The Were race in Dan and Mab's Furry Adventures . They have three forms, human, normal and 'primal' (animal), which basically form a Sliding Scale of Magicalness. As humans, they're immune to magic; in their normal form, they're Muggles with some minor bonuses; and as animals, their magical power is increased.
  • In El Goonish Shive, some of Grace's pure forms have positive and negative attributes the other pure forms or combination forms don't. Her full squirrel form is small but doesn't allow her to speak and her omega form is powerful and allows her to fly but it's 3 tails can complicate things.

    Western Animation 
  • Ben 10 has this as its core concept. The protagonist, Ben Tennyson, wears an alien watch-like device which he can use to shapeshift into a large variety of aliens beings, each with its own super-power (one has Super Speed, another is Playing with Fire, and so on). He started out with only ten, but got new forms as the series progressed, and it was explicitly stated he could potentially have more than one million.
    • The Nemetrix from Omniverse is an even more specialized variation. It's designed to specifically counteract the Omnitrix's aliens with their natural predators. Whatever power or weakness an alien has, the Nemetrix's aliens are either counters or exploiters to/of those powers/weaknesses.
  • In Generator Rex, Rex can create a variety of mechanical constructs that include the Smack Hands, the Boogie Pack, the Slam Cannon, the Block Party and the Blast Caster. Balance is mostly kept by making Rex only able to build one type of machine at a time (And even with a few season upgrades he can only create two by the end of the series) and making every machine have a secondary mode (The Smack hands can spin to create a sronger attack, the Blast Caster can generate electricity, the Boogie Pack can launch a few projectiles to grab enemies, and so on).