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Barrier Change Boss

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Fuuka: The enemy's aura has shifted...!
Mitsuru: So, they were changing their affinity! No wonder...
Persona 3 Reload, after the Arcana Emperor and Empress use Paradigm Shift

A type of boss, typically in an RPG, who doesn't have a fixed place in the game's Elemental Rock-Paper-Scissors lineup. Instead, they're capable of using a special technique or ability to periodically shuffle their elemental weaknesses in order to keep the player guessing. This is where the difficulty of the battle lies; the player can't afford to just employ their favorite items and spells to win. They will have to fight at the boss's pace and react accordingly, with the right elements.

This boss is usually a powerful spellcaster (implying that their special barrier-change technique is a high-level boss ability), and often has a significant role in the surrounding story. Alternatively, they're some sort of Elemental Shapeshifter.

It may or may not be possible to use an Enemy Scan on this type of boss — even if the scan does tell you their weakness, that information might quickly become dated in a few turns, when they decide to change weaknesses once more (assuming the boss doesn't react to your scan by changing his weakness immediately). On the other hand, sometimes you can quickly identify the boss's current weakness — the invocation may explicitly tell you which element to use, or the current weakness may be Color-Coded for Your Convenience (e.g. if the boss has Deflector Shields).

In rare cases, smart players can just utilize an Infinity +1 Element attack that spares them from having to keep up with the boss's rotating weaknesses, although it's likely they will need to work really hard (or exploit the game) to obtain access to said attack before the battle.

A Sub-Trope of Puzzle Boss and Toggling Setpiece Puzzle.


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    Action Adventure 
  • Buzz Lightyear of Star Command: Every boss has layers of force fields, each one that can only be destroyed by a specific weapon. (For instance, a blue shield will only be vulnerable to the Arc Laser.)
  • Distorted Travesty likes this kind of boss. We have the Quick Time Distorter, the Data Collector, the Garbage Tracker, the Virus Core... in a twist, you usually have to hit it with whatever element it is currently using, rather than which one you think it'd be weak to (although there are exceptions).
  • Ghost of Tsushima: Khunbish, The Dragon of the Big Bad in the DLC expansion, switches weapon styles frequently, forcing Jin to use almost all of his stances in order to keep up in their duel. There are also normal Mongols throughout the expansion dressed in purple who can do this, but luckily you don't need to be in the appropriate stance to block or, more importantly, Perfect Parry them for a counterattack.
  • God of War (PS4): The Final Boss switches his vulnerabilities during his third phase. When he turns red, you can only damage him with the Leviathan Axe, but when he turns blue, he becomes immune to the axe and you have to rely on your other attacks.
  • In Konjiki no Gash Bell!! Makai no Bookmark, Souma will cycle between the spells of Gash, Tio and Kiyomaro while in Giga Doruku form, changing his immunity in the process. In the first phase you are required to beat him into the next attack pattern, forcing you to keep at least two characters leveled up enough to damage him.
  • The Legend of Spyro: The Eternal Night: The Elemental Dragon, the boss of the Celestial Caves, cycles through the game's four elements — fire, ice, electricity and earth — over the course of its battle, and can only be harmed using the element that it's embodying at the moment.
  • The Legend of Zelda: Spirit Tracks: Fraaz, the boss of the Snow Temple, performs attacks based on fire and ice to confront Link, but its weakness is also related to those same elements. When it's preparing an attack from either element, Link has to inflict damage on it by imbuing his Boomerang with the opposite one. The boss is smart enough to subvert Boss-Arena Idiocy when it destroys the torches Link has been making his Boomerang pass by to imbue the corresponding element to it, but since the boss still attacks back and forth with both elements instead of sticking with one (and, therefore, also switches its own elemental weaknesses) it ends up being a Tactical Suicide Boss, prompting its defeat anyway.
  • Metroid:
    • Metroid Prime:
      • The first form of the eponymous final boss is only weak to the sort of attacks it's using at the time, though a simpler way to see its weakness is by the color of the markings on its body; yellow for the Power Beam, purple for the Wave Beam, white for the Ice Beam, and red for the Plasma Beam. In later stages of the battle with this form, it'll occasionally switch, and then immediately switch again, sometimes back to the weakness/attack setup it had before, trying to trick you into having the wrong beam ready.
      • The second phase of the final boss is able to become imperceptible to all but one of your three visors. Unlike most of these examples, however, there is a set cycle as to which visor can see it.
    • Metroid Prime 2: Echoes:
      • There are several enemies, including some bosses, that exhibit a downplayed example, changing once from a dark-vulnerable to light-vulnerable form after taking a certain amount of damage, and some straight examples too in which the enemy randomly changes between being vulnerable to dark and to light (such as the Ingsmashers).
      • The final form of the Emperor Ing alternates between becoming invulnerable to dark energy, light energy, and "neutral" energy (the Power Beam). The former two can be thwarted with the Annihilator Beam, which covers both elements, but burns both kinds of ammo (which you're probably quite low on at this point).
    • Gorea's initial form in Metroid Prime: Hunters changes colors throughout the battle, with the color matching that of the Affinity Weapon you should be using to damage its shoulders and make it reveal its true weak point. Just like with Metroid Prime's core essence, there's a set pattern to what you should shoot it with. However, no matter the color of its armor, it's always weak to the Power Beam and missiles. The secret final phase of the fight drops this and is immune to everything save the Omega Cannon.
  • The Final Boss of the first Overlord game does this every so often. The color of his shield matches that of the Minion type needed to break through it.

    Beat 'Em Up 
  • The final boss of Castle Crashers uses this tactic in one of several forms. However, he also not only transfers the damage the wrong attack did to you, he also makes it harder for the attack that would do the proper damage hard to do.

    First Person Shooter 
  • In BioShock, the final boss Frank Fontaine supercharges himself with "ADAM" (the game's genetic version of 'magic'), giving him various powers over fire, ice, and electricity, teleportation, etc. His body glows with a different colour depending on the power he's using: red for fire, blue for ice, white for electricity. Since you also get fire/ice/electricity powers through using ADAM, plus an artificial version of these elemental weapons with your chemical-thrower, guess which powers he is resistant to depending on the colour he gives off and which he is weak against?
  • Borderlands 2:
    • Bloodwing switches elemental powers after taking certain amounts of damage, and is immune to whatever elemental power she is currently using. Throughout the battle, Handsome Jack says she can use all the elements, but he keeps forgetting what one of them is. He then "remembers" once the battle is over: explosive.
    • The player themself can become one with an Adaptive shield, which makes the player resistant to the last damage type they took.
  • Destiny: The Court of Oryx Boss Vorlog will change his shields element type as they are depleted.
  • The Star Trek: Elite Force game introduces a weapon that gets around this with the Borg: the Infinity Modulator, which can randomly switch to an infinite number of frequencies and infinite number of times. It's the only weapon that consistently works against the Borg; they adapt to all others with enough shots.
  • Team Fortress 2: The Vaccinator reduces 10% of damage from a single damage type (fire, explosive, or bullets), both for the medic and his patient. His Übercharge increases the resistance up to 75% for the patient in addition to negating extra damage done by Critical Hits.

    Massively Multiplayer Online Role Playing Game 
  • Dragon Project has Vemerphose and Zaark. The former is a crystalline butterfly that starts off as Water-elemented, while the latter is a serpentine dragon that starts off as Fire-elemented, but both of them can change to three other elements, and their ultimate attacks can either be interrupted with either their respective weapon weaknesses or the corresponding elemental weakness.
  • Guardian Aegis from the King's Relic dungeon in Dungeon Fighter Online is a Barrier Changing Miniboss, that has a barrier that switches between blocking physical and magical attacks.
  • The Shadowlord, the final boss of the vanilla mission storyline, in Final Fantasy XI spends his first phase by occasionally switching between total physical immunity and total magical immunity, forcing players to alternate their attacks to bring him down - he ditches this gimmick in the second phase, where he focuses on constantly dealing party-wide damage, but is squishier as a result.
  • Number 024 returns as Number XXIV (see the Final Fantasy VI example below) in Final Fantasy XIV, as a miniboss in one of the later dungeons. He switches to control of two elements at once, and the players must switch to the third in order to deal him any reasonable damage.
  • In Granblue Fantasy, some raid bosses incorporate this tactic in their skills:
    • The Twin Elements can switch their element between Water and Fire.
    • The boss of the Wyvern Reverie quest of What Makes The Sky Blue cycles through all of the six elements, depending on its remaining HP.
  • Kingdom of Loathing:
    • Mother Slime at the bottom of the Slime Tube doesn't technically change her resistance, but every 500 points of damage from a certain element (or lack thereof), she mutates a defense against that type of attack for the remainder of the fight. She has just shy of 3000 hit points. There are five elements in the game, plus one for non-elemental physical damage. There is a reward for defeating her without triggering any of her defense mutations.
    • There's also Dad Sea Monkee, the final boss of The Sea. He becomes immune to all but one type of damage each round, the cycle of which is vaguely hinted at in his description.
  • Phantasy Star Universe has the Kagajibari. Boss of the mission "Rainbow Beast", he switches element to whatever element just hit him. He casts spells accordingly. His default type is Light, so one would cast dark spells at him... right? If you cast dark spells at him, he casts Megid at you.
  • RuneScape:
    • Dagannoth and Gelatinnoth Mothers change color depending if they're weak to air, earth, water, or fire spells, ranged attacks, or special and melee damage.
    • There are Tormented Demons and the Dungeoneering bosses Astea Frostweb and the Skelletal Trio, who switch protection prayers periodically. Also, the Kalphite Queen has two forms, each of which have certain resistances (even though they appear as protection prayers, the Queen can still be hurt by those types of attacks, though it counts as if the Queen had insanely high defence in those attack types, so hits happen very seldom, even if for high damage). Akrisae the Doomed also can use protection prayers, but unlike other enemies does not have unlimited prayer, though takes a long time to run out. Sigmund also uses protection prayers, and is able to switch prayers too quickly for the player to get though them so the only way to take him down is either with the help of an NPC or with the help of a special mace that disables his prayers.
    • Players can (and will) invert this; with prayers, you can block the three attack types. However, to avoid completely breaking the game, you can only have one protection prayer (melee, magic, or ranged) active at a time. Much of the high level content requires players to swap protection prayers to block enemy attacks. Since the evolution of combat update, prayers used by players now only block up to 50% of damage against most enemies and are only 100% effective in special situations.
    • In the Barbarian Assault minigame, every enemy except ironically the bosses uses barrier change mechanics. In the game, there are five players who each take on one of four roles. Each role has to tell a different role which weakness to target, and the weaknesses changes every thirty seconds. Collectors have to tell fighters what combat style to use against the fighter and ranger enemies, while attackers have to tell collectors which eggs are currently safe to pick up. Defenders tell healers which type of poisoned food to use against the enemy healers, while healers tell defenders which type of bait to use to trap the enemy runners.
    • The Queen Black Dragon during her third and fourth phases can either harden or crystallize herself to make herself resistant to non-magic or magic attacks respectively, although not so much that you are actually forced to change styles.
  • Temtem:
    • Oree and Zaobian's Attack<T> trait gives them a secondary type corresponding to the technique they're about to use.
    • Arachnyte's Adaptive trait changes its secondary type (Digital) to the type of the attack it just received and boosts its special attack, but only once per battle.
  • World of Warcraft:
    • While not any bosses (unless they've been forgotten), there are several types of enemies which become more resistant to magic types they've been struck with. The death knight talent Acclimation also makes causes them to develop greater magical resistance for each time that kind of energy strikes them. There isn't a corresponding weakness however, so being struck by multiple types of magic just makes the effect stronger.
    • Chromaggus, the gigantic Draekadon (two-headed dragon-like Core Hound), second-to-last boss of Blackwing Lair, will change his resistances and weakness to elemental damage during the fight. When he shimmers, they change: he'll be weak to one type and nearly immune to the rest. It changes every so often, so players have to keep on their toes.

  • Guacamelee! has the first phase of the Carlos Calaca fight. During this phase, Calaca is surrounded by different colored barriers and can only be damaged by attacks corresponding to said colors. The fact that he also switches dimensions between attacks complicates things further.
  • In Kirby 64: The Crystal Shards, Miracle Matter has a form mimicking each of Kirby's copy abilities in that game, and each form is only vulnerable to its own type of damage, whether by spitting back its projectiles or using the ability copied from those projectiles. Its intermediary form is completely invulnerable but also doesn't move or attack.
  • Mega Man
    • In Mega Man Powered Up, both Copy Man and Wily are subjective to this. In both cases, they randomly switch between the powers of the game's Robot Masters, and, at that point, are weak to the same weapon the respective boss is.
    • The first form of Mega Man X8's True Final Boss switches between 8 different patterns (derived from the 8 main Maverick Bosses) with each form having the appropriate Maverick's weakness.
    • Copy-X in both Mega Man Zero and Zero 3 can change between Fire, Ice, Lightning and Non-Elemental in his first form. In the latter game, the Non-Elemental form gets a special attack to compensate.
  • The next-to-last boss of Scurge: Hive periodically switches between the three categories of enemy in that game (biological, mechanical, and energy-based), gaining the corresponding weakness and resistance. This fight is complicated by it also summoning other enemies that are empowered by the beam it is weak to, forcing you to stay on your toes and switch beams often.
  • Sonic the Hedgehog:
    • Metal Madness, the penultimate boss from Sonic Heroes, can become immune to attacks from each character type depending on the current color of the light on his lower body. In the first phase with Team Rose, he's immune to attacks from Speed characters (in this case, Amy) and then in Team Chaotix and Team Dark's phases, he alternates between immunity to Fly and Power.
    • The Final Boss of Sonic the Hedgehog (2006) forces you to switch hedgehogs when it stops taking damage from high speed rams/chaos spears/telekinetic rocks. There is always a set order of which hedgehog can damage him: Silver, then Shadow, then Sonic.

    Puzzle Games 
  • Crash Fever does this by changing the enemy’s element which reduces the damage it takes thanks to Elemental Rock-Paper-Scissors. This also has the side effect of increasing the damage dealt to the type its effective against as well thanks to the above reason.

    Role Playing Games 
  • Tarvos the Avenger in .hack//Quarantine. Fortunately, the game tells you what, if anything, every enemy you face is tolerant (immune) to by way of glowing orange text next to its lifebar.
    • On that note is the recurring boss within The World itself: The One Sin. Rumored to be very, very powerful, it can only be damaged by an element that is opposite itself when it fights. The last person who defeated it was Balmung; his unique angel-like look is the prize for defeating it. Apparently it was so powerful a semi-famous player poet composed a poem and gave Balmung (and Orca) nicknames "Descendants of Fianna" and it stuck.
    • The One Sin makes a gameplay appearance in .hack//G.U. Reminisce. True to its name, it can only be hurt by elements opposite of its color, and even then, you need to defeat its two shields before it momentarily opens up to reveal the core. An even nastier variant, The One Godeater, appears in .hack//G.U. Redemption. Now, it only responds to either Darkness or Light spells. This narrows down to two elements, but the boss itself is very, very hard even with that advantage.
  • The Optional Boss Nightmare in Alter A.I.L.A. Genesis, 150% damage for a specific element. 1% for everything else
  • Inverted in Arcana, where the elemental spirits on your side each possess a cheap spell for doing this to your party.
  • The Chromatic Fiend in Baldur's Gate II: Throne of Bhaal does this. The first form of the final boss does this as well. It will actually notify players, though; first by using a high level spell of that element to signify it's about to change, and then by changing colors to match its element.
  • Baten Kaitos' final boss followed this trope. Though, it showed you what element he was changing into with Seal of Entropy, and by displaying the game's icon for the element slide over his limbs, into his chest, you only have a "deck" of cards that explain your weapon usage. So you can't really specialize in all elements, or choose any particular attack that would defeat his element quickly, but instead have each of your team special in three or four elements (Chrono or Wind, Fire or Water, Light or Dark) or pack yourself full of non-element based cards and drag the fight out for a good hour or so. Fortunately, three specific characters actually specialize in those very combinations (Kalas has Chrono/Wind, Sayna has Fire/Water, and Lyude has Light/Dark).
  • The Tyrant Dragon from Breath of Fire IV switches between earth, wind, and water every turn.
  • In BoxxyQuest: The Gathering Storm, Periwinkle and Orangered are Dual Bosses with selective immunity to either physical attacks or magic. About halfway through the battle, they start flipping and swapping at random every turn, making damaging them something of a Luck-Based Mission.
  • Chrono Trigger
    • The Trope Namer is the move Barrier Change used by Magus. Magus was in fact healed by Elemental Powers which did not match the element of his barrier, and changing his barrier also inflicted high elemental damage to your entire party. Fortunately, if you didn't have magic that matched his barrier, you could force him to change it (at the cost of getting hit by the aforementioned damage) with physical attacks. He also had four barriers he could apply, and the most you can possibly counter are three with any given party; only two if you picked Marle as your optional teammate. The hard part of the fight actually came after he dropped his barriers entirely, because that was when he broke out his most devastating spell, Dark Matter.
    • There is also a lesser example in the Jesters in his castle. It starts with a magic-blocking barrier. Use physical attacks and it barrier swaps to a physical barrier. There's also the Golems, who attack-swap based on the attacks you use on them. Of course, by simply rotating elemental attacks, you can stick them in an endless loop where they have to charge each new element. You can also wear equipment that nullifies or absorbs a certain element, then just attack with that element.
  • Crescent Prism: Bouncer starts with no element, but as the battle rages on, they'll change to fire or ice form, making them weak to the opposite element.
  • The Treasure Tower's top level in Dubloon is guarded by a mermaid who can change her elemental weakness on a whim, indicated by the colour of her tail. She also gets two actions during her turn in case her shifting weaknesses weren't a challenge already.
  • The Elder Scrolls:
    • Gnarls in Oblivion's Shivering Isles expansion are a non-boss example; when hit with an elemental attack, they grow in size and strength and gain a resistance to the element of the spell, but grow weaker to other elements, requiring mages to constantly swap between spells to exploit their weakness.
    • In Skyrim, the boss of the College of Winterhold quest 'Under Saarthal', Jyrik Gauldurson, has an elemental shield that rotates periodically between resistance to fire, ice, and lightning. That being said, Jyrik's shield doesn’t do anything about melee weapons, so that’s your best bet.
  • Etrian Odyssey:
    • Etrian Odyssey IV: Legends of the Titan: The Cradle Guardian is capable of changing the hue of its protective plate over the course of the battle to shift its current elemental and melee strengths and weaknesses, cycling in the following sequence: Melee —-> Fire —-> Ice —-> Volt —-> Melee again. The hue indicates what it's currently most resistant against, and also hints at the current weakness. Fire plate is weak against ice, the Ice plate is weak against volt, the Volt plate is weak against fire, and the colorless plate makes it resistant against physical attacks and neutral against elements.
    • Etrian Odyssey V: Beyond the Myth: The Crystal Dragon can manifest in two forms, each giving it different strengths and weaknesses. When the spilkes of its wings are extended, it is weak against all melee attacks (stab, cut and bash) but resistant against all elements (Fire, Ice, Lightning). When the spikes are retracted to give prominence to the turbine-like features of the wings, the weaknesses and resistances are swapped. The player's character party has to keep an eye on the current appearance of the Dragon to know what type of attack to perform next.
  • Final Fantasy has a LOT of these:
    • Final Fantasy III has a boss named Hein that can change his elemental weakness during the battle. He's encountered just after you acquire the second set of jobs, which conveniently has a class that can scan for weakness.
    • Rubicante from Final Fantasy IV changes his weakness from ice to fire when he draws his cloak. Yes, this means you can kill the Fiend of Fire entirely with fire damage.
    • In the 3D remake of Final Fantasy IV, Golbez knows Barrier Shift, and recasts it every single time you successfully hit his current weakness.
    • Final Fantasy IV: The After Years has the Blade Dragon, the Optional Boss in Palom's Challenge Dungeon. It counters with a powerful attack and heals itself if you try to use anything on it that isn't an elemental attack (such as a physical attack, Bio, or even Libra). To win, you must use the one elemental spell type it isn't using.
    • Several bosses in Final Fantasy V change their elements, the most infamous being Archeoaevis and Optional Boss Omega MK II.
    • Final Fantasy VI has Number 024, Master Pug/Tonberry, and the Magi Master; the latter is especially frustrating for being fought in a dungeon where only magic can be used. The Updated Re-release includes Kaiser Dragon as well. Luckily for you, except for Magi Master, all the other ones will change their attack pattern depending on what their weakness is. Also, you can use the Debilitator to add another weakness to them... until they barrier change again, anyways.
    • Final Fantasy VII:
      • Jersey, found in Shinra Mansion in Nibelheim. It is an enemy which determines if it is immune to magic or physical damage by raising one arm and lowering the other arm.
      • A unique example in the form of Lost Number, a Optional Boss in the Shinra Mansion. It starts the battle using powerful but not devastating physical and magical attacks. After losing half its HP, it will change to reflect the source of the most damage it received: if most of the damage was done with magic, it will become immune to magic and use extremely powerful magic attacks exclusively. A similar effect occurs for physical attacks, which tend to be slightly less devastating as it can still only hit one character at a time.
      • In the remake, the Hell House will periodically change between fire, ice, lightning, and wind. Also, the various ghost-type enemies (including one boss) can alternate between immunity to physical attacks and immunity to magic.
      • Final Fantasy VII Rebirth has White Mousses. Hit one with an elemental attack and it gains resistance to that element. It can only resist one element at a time, so the player is encouraged to alternate between elements.
    • Spherimorph and Greater Sphere in Final Fantasy X. While the former's weakness can be revealed by attacking it, Greater Sphere loves to counter any action against it with Ultima. Seymour Omnis changes elements as well.
    • Some high-end bosses in Final Fantasy XI have the ability to either negate physical or magical damage, one of the more notable ones being the Final Boss of Chains of Promathia. There are also a few normal enemies that have such abilities, too.
    • Various bosses in Final Fantasy XII (Phoenix, Zodiark, Trickster, Shemhazai, Omega Mark XII, and Bull Chocobo) have Shift, which makes them weak to one element while absorbing all others. Hitting their elemental weakness causes it to change. Most bosses past about the halfway point, and virtually all Optional Bosses have alternating Palings, barriers which make them immune to either magic or physical damage.
    • Final Fantasy XIII:
      • Amphisbaena. Although the "Barrier Change" is easier to deal it because characters can use multiple spells at once, the "Boss" part is a little harder to manage. They come back as Demonic Spiders later in the story.
      • Cid Raines will adapt his fighting style and the abilities used based on your paradigms.
      • The Aster Protoflorian, whose first appearance (that's right, even stronger versions appear later as Demonic Spiders) is specifically meant to give you a wake up call if you've still not got the battle system sussed. It periodically switches its attacking element, making the opposing element its weakness. Hopefully, you've been grinding enough to have a spell of each element unlocked...
  • The Final Boss of Freedom Force vs. the 3rd Reich, which leads to the possibility of turning the most powerful being on Earth into a vase of flowers.
  • Golden Sun: The Lost Age: As part of its Move Roulette, the Dullahan Optional Boss will occasionally use something called Element Swap. This doesn't actually affect its weaknesses, but it does serve as a warning that he's going to use an earth element move next, which includes Charon (the single most powerful Venus element Summon Magic, which only the player has normally).
  • Kushidra, a minion used by the Final Boss of Jade Cocoon, changes elements every few turns in a predicable cycle. In Jade Cocoon 2, Lilith does the same.
  • In Jade Empire, Emperor Sun Hai doesn't care about elements per say, but he does switch between his Support, Magic, Unarmed, and Weapon Styles. Unlike most of the examples on this list, he's immune to the one he's using, not the ones he isn't, but he is very reliable about switching to whatever you just hit him with, then hitting you while you're busy changing to match.
  • Kingdom Hearts has two of these:
    • Ursula shuffles her weakness, but the mechanism is different. It's actually her cauldron that has the weaknesses. The color of its contents determines its element: attacking the cauldron with its opposing element will result in it stunning Ursula.
    • One of the secret bosses (Phantom) shuffles weak points as well, including physical hits. It's also annoying because Phantom is also a Time-Limit Boss because of a curse on the Big Ben.
    • The international and final mix versions add a third boss to the list: Kurt Zisa. Instead of changing elements, he alternates between sealing all magic attacks and creating an anti-physical barrier. The former is especially annoying since it also seals spells like Aero and Cure.
  • Lie of Caelum: Euphi Moji's Flow ability, Gear Shift, allows them to change their discipline, which changes their resistances and the type of damage they deal.
  • The final boss of Magical Starsign changes its own weakness.
  • Mega Man Battle Network 6: Cybeast Gregar and Cybeast Falzar has Elementman.EXE, who changes his element after every attack.
  • In Mega Man X: Command Mission, Incentas had the ability to rotate his element. And his head.
  • Several of the eponymous megafauna in Monster Hunter have a gimmick like this:
    • Monster Hunter 3 (Tri):
      • The Barroth is weak against water while covered in mud, and weak against fire when not. He flings his mud off by shaking in one of his attacks, and sometimes rolls in mud to cover himself back up. You generally just have to pick either a fire or a water element weapon and try to attack just parts that are covered/uncovered, but Bowgunners can bring both Water and Fire shots. Barroth also carries a secondary weakness to Ice that doesn't change with the mud armor's state, allowing players to ignore the whole thing.
      • The Stygian Zinogre, introduced in the Updated Re-release 3 Ultimate, is heavily weak to all elements and ailments when depowered, most notably Dragon, and while it's immune to most elements and ailments when supercharged, it gains a pronounced weakness to Water in this state.
    • Monster Hunter: World:
      • Kulve Taroth starts the battle immune to Ice damage, but weak to Thunder damage. Once her golden mantle comes off, these weaknesses swap, and she gains a greater weakness to Dragon as well. Like Barroth, however, Water retains the same effectiveness throughout the fight, so you can just focus on Water damage if you wish.
      • The Iceborne version of Alatreon changes weaknesses depending on its elemental state, Ice for Fire Active, Fire for Ice Active and Dragon for Dragon Active. This is important, as while it's not completely immune to all other types of damage, you have to deal enough elemental damage to topple it in under 3 minutes to weaken it, or else it'll perform its Escaton Judgement move and cart you instantaneously.
  • The Barrier Trio in Mother 3 are immune to all elemental PSI attacks except one while they're posing, and after taking three hits from the one they're weak against, they'll change their pose, and with it, their weakness. This is one of the few instances where Boney's Sniff command is very useful, though it's not actually necessary if you opt for non-elemental attacks or realize that their weakness is determined by which one of the trio is calling out the pose.
  • The Final Boss of the infamous Mother/Earthbound hack The Halloween Hack, Dr. Andonuts, becomes one in his second form. He starts out weak to Timestop, then, when he starts using Fire, he becomes weak to Freeze. The third phase inverts his strength and weakness, while his fourth phase can easily be taken out by reflecting his ultimate attack. His final phase is a straight out fight to see who kills who first.
  • Nocturne: Rebirth gives the Final Boss, Khaos, who has the skill Element Raid. The game lacks an Enemy Scan feature, making this skill quite annoying, though the upside is that it changes his weakness and resistance in a cycle and it doesn't protect him from pure physical damage.
  • Octopath Traveler:
    • Many later bosses will change their weaknesses every time they recover from Break. Some of them also keep their weaknesses protected, requiring you to either get rid of their flunkies first or Break them using the few weaknesses that are available to reveal more. Special mention goes to Redeye, the final boss of H'aanit's story, who does this every turn (although it always retains a weakness to light).
    • In one phase of the True Final Boss, the boss summons three damned souls to defend it, and each has five weaknesses — but only one is vulnerable at a time, and any hits each takes shuffles the weakness one space, forcing the player to hit them one at a time to make the weaknesses line up before hitting them all at once with the appropriate weakness.
  • Pokémon:
    • Kecleon's Color Change Ability allows it to change its type to that of the attack that was just used against it, shuffling its Elemental Rock-Paper-Scissors weakness as well. Extra fun if you have a 'mon in your party with Dragon-type or Ghost-type moves, as both types are weak to attacks of their own type. As of Gen VI it gained the Hidden Ability Protean, which changes its type to whatever move it's going to use, basically giving it STAB on everything. The Froakie line also has this Ability as its Hidden one, and the Scorbunny line gets a renamed variant in Libero.
    • Another Pokémon does this as well — the Porygon family's Conversion (changes type to that of one of its own attacks) and Conversion2 (changes type to what resists the last attack that hit) attacks. The latter is a bit more useful in Double Battles (Porygon2 are sturdy enough that it can Recover the damage dealt by its partner. PorygonZ, not so much.), though it's still not recommended.
    • The move Camouflage changes the Pokémon type depending on the environment.
    • There's also Castform, with its ability to change its type, as well as the effects of its signature move, Weather Ball, depending on the weather, becoming Fire-type in strong sunlight, Water-type in rain, and Ice-type in hail (though strangely, there's no alternate form for a sandstorm).
    • The final boss of Pokémon Super Mystery Dungeon does this. It starts off with no type, and changes to three other types as the fight progresses.
    • Pokémon Legends: Arceus turns the titular character into an extreme version of this with the Legend Plate, a hold item that turns Arceus and its Signature Move Judgement into a type that is both super effective against the opposing Pokemon's type(s) and resistant to it (prioritising the Pokemon's primary type over its secondary). Since there are over 300 type permutations, going over every single one would take ages, so here are the types the Legend Plate turns Arceus and Judgement into when Arceus is faced with a single-typed Pokemon:
      • Normal-type foe: Fighting-type Judgement/Arceus (Fighting is the only type that's super effective against Normal).
      • Grass-type foe: Judgment/Arceus becomes Fire, Bug, Flying, or Poison (Ice doesn't resist Grass, the other four types do).
      • Fire-type foe: Water or Rock type Judgement/Arceus (Ground, Fire's other weakness, doesn't resist Fire).
      • Water-type foe: Grass-type Judgement/Arceus (of the two types that are super effective against Water, only Grass resists Water, Electric doesn't).
      • Electric-type foe: Ground-type Judgement/Arceus (Ground is the only type that's super effective against Electric).
      • Bug-type foe: Fire or Flying type Judgement/Arceus (Rock, Bug's other weakness, doesn't resist Bug).
      • Poison-type foe: Ground-type Judgement/Arceus (of the two types that are super effective against Poison, only Ground resists Poison, Psychic doesn't).
      • Flying-type foe: Rock or Electric type Judgement/Arceus (Ice, Flying's other weakness, doesn't resist Flying).
      • Fighting-type foe: Judgement/Arceus becomes Flying, Psychic, or Fairy (all three types are equally super effective and resistant to Fighting).
      • Rock-type foe: Judgement/Arceus becomes Fighting, Ground, or Steel (Water and Grass, Rock's other weaknesses, don't resist Rock).
      • Ground-type foe: Grass-type Judgement/Arceus (Water and Ice, Ground's other weaknesses, don't resist Ground).
      • Ice-type foe: Judgement/Arceus becomes Fire or Steel (Rock and Fighting, Ice's other weaknesses, don't resist Ice).
      • Psychic-type foe: Dark-type Judgement/Arceus (Dark is the only one of Psychic's weaknesses to be immue to it).
      • Ghost-type foe: Dark-type Judgement/Arceus (Dark is the only one of Ghost's weaknesses to resist it).
      • Dragon-type foe: Fairy-type Judgement/Arceus (Fairy is the only one of Dragon's weaknesses to be immue to it).
      • Dark-type foe: Fairy or Fighting type Judgement/Arceus (Bug, Dark's other weakness, doesn't resist Dark).
      • Steel-type foe: Fire-type Judgement/Arceus (Ground and Fighting, Steel's other weaknesses, don't resist Steel).
      • Fairy-type foe: Poison or Steel type Judgement/Arceus (both types are equally super effective and resistant to Fairy).
    • Pokémon Scarlet and Violet: The Terastal mechanic. Once per battle, a pokemon can change its typing to its Tera Type, changing the pokemon's weaknesses, while maintaining STAB on their usual types' attacks. This mechanic can be used offensively or defensively. Usually, a pokemon's Tera Type will be one of their usual types, getting 2x STAB on the Tera typed attacks instead of the normal 1.5x, and losing the other type's weaknesses. However, a pokemon's Tera type can be any of the 18 types in the game, and a smart trainer can play Confusion Fu with their opponent by switching to a completely different type, changing their pokemon's weaknesses completely, and gaining STAB on a third type, especially if the pokemon knows Tera Blast.
  • Shin Megami Tensei
    • In Persona 4, Kunino-Sagiri does a variant on this. His Quad Converge skill makes three out of the four main offensive elements almost completely ineffective, but the remaining one very powerful. The trick is that he is weak to the element he uses to attack).
    • In Persona 3, this is used for Nyx Avatar, the final boss, the Emperor/Empress Dual Boss, and the Optional Boss, Elizabeth, who changes her persona every turn, which also changes the type of attacks that she nulls. Similarly, Margaret, the Optional Boss from Persona 4, also changes her resistances based on which Persona she last used.
    • As does Isamu/Noah in Shin Megami Tensei III: Nocturne. What makes him particularly annoying is that he shifts barriers and only one element can hurt him. Anything else will be reflected. Every boss of this kind in the SMT games can be bypassed with Almighty skills. But Noah? He takes only 10% damage from Almighty skills, so you will have to pay atention to his pattern. That is, unless you get Pierce and Freikugel on the Main Character (which means being locked into the True Demon Ending), then you can just nuke Noah with Focused Freikugels.
    • In Shin Megami Tensei: Strange Journey, both the normal Final Boss and the Superboss randomly change weaknesses and resistances. Thankfully, there's a cheap Sub App (Gibdo Eye) that changes your cursor's appearance when your attack won't work. Most players skip the game of "What works now?" and jump straight to Almighty spells, which cannot be resisted.
    • In Shin Megami Tensei IV, Seraph, one of the bosses in Purgatorium, puts up a colored wall that corresponds to a certain element. Using that element will break the wall and allow Seraph to be damaged.
    • Shin Megami Tensei IV: Apocalypse has three of these. The first is Inanna, the fifth boss of the Cosmic Egg, who uses moves that makes her weak to the opposite element. The second is the same dungeon's final boss, Vishnu-Flynn, who, in his second form, switches between being weak to Light and Dark. DLC provides the third example in Cleopatra, who starts with a weakness to Dark while occasionally using a move that will switch her weakness when it is exploited.
    • Digital Devil Saga
      • Huang Long, one of the last Optional Bosses in the first game, has this gimmick and he can shift barriers as well. You're supposed to use the element that comes after whatever the boss is using (ie; Huang Long is using Fire, use Ice). Huang Long however also possesses a form where he is immune to everything, including Almighty.
      • Abaddon and Meganada in the sequel count as well. Abaddon basically has three forms that are reminiscent of three previous bosses and thus also has their elemental properties and attacks. One form uses Physical skills, another form uses magic, and the last form buffs, debuffs, and poisons. He always starts out in the Physical form, and once he's been in all three forms, he will randomly shift them around. Abaddon also possesses a nasty trick: he can swallow a party member, leaving you with only two damage dealers. Pray that this hits Cielo because he actually forces himself into the active party for this battle. As for Meganada, he can render himself immune to either Physical or elemental magic attacks depending on what aspect the boss is using. He starts out immune to Physical and what is common with both of these aspects is that Meganada absorbs Electricity and has standard boss immunities.
      • Vishnu and Shiva, both of them being tough Optional Bosses in Digital Devil Saga 2, also change barriers. Shiva can only be hit by certain elements and what hits him is consistent depending on the turn order (on the first turn, only Fire and Ice will hurt him; everything else except Almighty will be reflected back in your face.) Vishnu however changes his resistances based on what you used against him.
      • The last Optional Boss, Satan, also changes resistances every turn. Put this on top of the other type of phase change and the fact that he can fully heal himself towards the end of the fight, and you get one very difficult opponent.
    • Devil Survivor 2: Beelzebub normally reflects everything and No Sells Curse element (thankfully, he doesn't resist Almighty), but depending on what Mooks he summons, he stops reflecting one element, and the fewer the number of mooks, the more vulnerable he is to that element. Problem is, as soon as he is attacked, or once there are no mooks left, he will summon a new set of mooks and change his elemental resistances.
  • The Tiamat Sacrament: The Final Boss, Ry'jin, can change his elemental affinity, which is indicated by the color of the orb he's holding.
  • Yo Kai Watch has one of the optional bosses Wobblewok, who can change the color of their eyes. When they have blue eyes, they are immune to techniques. If their eyes are red, they resist physical attacks.

    Shoot 'Em Ups 
  • In Ikaruga, the players and the second-to-final boss have the ability of switching their color. Shots of their current color are absorbed.

    Third Person Shooters 
  • Warframe: The Orb Mother known as Profit-Taker is equipped with Sentient-type shields, which periodically change to be completely immune to all but a certain elemental damage type. True Sentients aren't an example, instead being a simple case of Adaptive Ability.

    Tower Defense Games 
  • Dreadbloon in Bloons TD 6 changes its immunity towards towers based on their categories whenever a certain amount of health is depleted: It first appears immune to Primary towers, then Military, then Magic, and finally Support.

    Web Games 
  • Epic Battle Fantasy:
    • The Final Boss of 3 does this. It takes him a long time to change, though, and once he's been scanned once, you don't need to scan him again.
    • 4 does this with the Crystal Golem, the second boss of the game, who changes between Fire, Ice, Lightning as soon as it takes a single hit (that includes individual hits from multi-hit attacks). Like the above, once it's scanned you don't have to do it again. However, you can bypass this by attacking with the Water and Bomb elements, although they won't be quite as strong.
    • 5 's Cosmic Gigalith is weak to one element while being immune to the rest, and changes the weakness every few turns.
    • There's the Optional Boss Annihilator:Karnos, which occasionally switches to a random new element. Legion's Gemsplosion attack will always trigger this.
    • The Master Stone switches elements every turn, in addition to its normal attacks. The best way to deal with the Stone is to curse it, which not only locks it in its current form but also limits it to a relatively weak physical attack.
  • The Magneto Epic Boss fight in Chapter 4.4 of Marvel: Avengers Alliance makes your ability to get past his barrier a matter of sheer luck. At the start of each round, he activates either a positively or negatively charged shield, then uses attacks that place either a positive or negative charge on your party members. Damage from negatively charged characters will be absorbed by a negative shield but bypass a positive one, and vice versa. It's sometimes possible to break the shield by hitting it with enough firepower, but Magneto always puts up a fresh one each round. If the Random Number God refuses to cooperate by putting any opposing charges on your team, your best bet is to either pile Status Effects on Magneto or use items to wear him down.

Non Video Game Examples

    Anime and Manga 
  • Edward Elric, the Fullmetal Alchemist, becomes one of these once he realises Scar is using alchemy to deconstruct his victims. Ed uses his own alchemy to change the metal his automail arm is made of throughout their battle so that Scar cannot deconstruct it if he manages to grab it.
  • While Arceus always had the ability to change its types and by extension its resistances and weaknesses in the Pokémon franchise, it was never able to do this while battling. In the movie Pokémon: Arceus and the Jewel of Life however, this trope is played straight. Arceus can change its plates to achieve immunity or at least heavy resistance to almost all attacks.
  • According to one of the Naruto databooks, Itachi's Yata no Kagami mirror artifact works this way, instantly changing its elemental affinity to cancel out any jutsu used against it.

    Fan Works 
  • The protagonist of With This Ring encounters an enhanced Qwardian soldier, Stnn'li, who projects an aura around himself, toggling between a red aura that seems to melt things around it, a yellow aura that blocks most ordinary attacks, and a grey aura for stopping phase-shifted ammunition. Stnn'li eventually retreats when Paul creates a singularity projector construct.

  • In the Discworld novel Hogfather, a crucial door is magically locked with 8 different locks. Each one is a different color, and requires a very different technique to open. Although Mr. Teatime does not know how, he temporarily hires a wizard who figures it out.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Star Trek: The Next Generation features the Borg, who are able to adapt their personal energy shields after a couple of phaser blasts to gain effective immunity to enemy weapons. Eventually the crew of the U.S.S. Enterprise figured out that they should modify their phasers to randomly switch frequencies after each shot to keep the Borg off their game. Even then, they adapt after several shots.

  • In Stern Pinball's Star Trek, the requirements for "Vengeance Multiball" changes depending on which encounter it is. For example, the first time is a standard multiball mode, while the second time is a Timed Mission where the Vengeance shoots pinballs at the player.

    Table Top Games 
  • Arkham Horror: The Ancient One Zhar is actually Conjoined Twins - Zhar and his brother Lloigor. Zhar has Magical Immunity (magical weapons grant no bonuses to hurt him), but when he's defeated, the investigators must then battle Lloigor, who has Physical Immunity (physical weapons grant no bonuses to hurt him).
  • Dungeons & Dragons:
    • The skindancer reflexively changes resistances to take less damage from whatever attack form was used on him last.
    • The Initiate of the Sevenfold Veil prestige class essentially allows a PC to become one of these herself, (eventually) creating any of seven different barriers, each with a different effect on objects and creatures that pass through it (ranging from stopping missile attacks to warping creatures to a random plane if they fail a Will save), and each dispelled by contact with a different spell. (They're even color-coded in the sourcebook, though the text encourages players to invent their own flavors for RP purposes.)
    • Eberron: In 5th edition, Mordakhesh the Shadowsword can use a legendary action to give himself temporary resistance to one of the five damage types—acid, cold, fire, lightning, or poison—inflicted by the Breath Weapons of chromatic and metallic dragons.
  • Sentinels of the Multiverse: The villain Omnitron has a card called Adaptive Plating Subroutine. This card makes it immune to damage of the last type to damage it. For example, if it were dealt Melee damage, it would become immune to Melee; if it were then dealt Sonic damage, it would become immune to Sonic. This is annoying most of the time, and crippling if your team primarily deals a single damage type. As an Ongoing, however, it's fairly easy to just blow it up and not have to bother.