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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.

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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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Examples:

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    Kamen Rider 
This trope is a tradition for modern Kamen Rider series.
  • Kamen Rider Kabuto:
  • Kamen Rider Den-O:
  • Kamen Rider Kiva
    • Kiva:
    • On surface, Ixa seems to use Next Tier Power-Up with each form (Save Mode > Burst Mode > Rising Ixa) being stronger than before. However, the Save Mode has its use as fail-safe to the Burst Mode by lowering the Powered Armor's output and disabling some functions to stabilize the system. It's just that after 22 years of development, Ver.X armor's Burst Mode is reliable enough.
  • Kamen Rider Decade:
    • Decade's loaded thanks to Power Copying other riders, primarily the nine preceding him, and most of their forms (he doesn't get their upgraded Lightning Bruiser or Super Mode forms, with one exception, nor that he gets their Joke Character forms either). As the stats and abilities of Riders differ from series to series, here're some notable ones:
      • Faiz Axel form functions as a substitute for Kabuto's Super Speed and is the only upgrade form that Decade is shown using.
      • Den-O's four basic forms are Joke Characters at first. All they do is cause Decade to strike a pose and say their Catch-Phrase.
    • Decade also has two Super Modes:
      • Complete: In addition to the usual stat boost, it also has the ability to summon previous Riders' Super Modes to assist him in attacking.
      • Violent Emotion: A Superpowered Evil Side that's used when Decade fulfills his role as the destroyer of worlds. It allows him to use the powers and tools of other riders without changing to other forms.
  • Kamen Rider Double
  • Kamen Rider OOO takes Double's Combo Platter Powers Up to Eleven and therefore is WAY too varied to list all the possibilities. In order to keep things simple, listed below are just his main combos.
    • TaToBanote  Combo: Actually a Master of None since it combines three different types of Medals, but still fairly well-balanced.
    • GataKiriBanote  Combo: A Magic Knight that's more agile than TaToBa but slightly weaker; however, it has the ability to create a seemingly unlimited number of duplicates.note  It doesn't get used too often, with the In-Universe explanation that Eiji has a hard time getting back down to a single body (and the Real Life explanation that the duplication effect was prohibitively expensive).
    • LaToraTahnote  Combo: A Fragile Speedster thanks to the Cheetah legs giving him incredible Super Speed at the cost of armor.
    • SaGohZounote  Combo: A Mighty Glacier able to deliver incredibly powerful strikes and even possessing a degree of gravity manipulation. As one might expect, its drawbacks are being incredibly slow and short-ranged (aside from its Rocket Punch attack) and its limbs being so heavy that Eiji actually has a hard time fighting properly initially.
    • TaJaDolnote  Combo: A Lightning Bruiser that's good in all areas and can fly. Despite being a Mid-Season Upgrade, TaJaDol is sometimes considered OOO's Super Mode since, unlike the more powerful PuToTyra Combo, Eiji can use it without becoming The Berserker (plus he's thematically tied to it since the Bird Greeed, Ankh, is his ally).
    • ShaUTanote  Combo: A Squishy Wizard, being physically weaker than the other combos but incredible within its element of underwater combat.
    • PuToTyranote  Combo: OOO's primary Super Mode, possessing power and speed beyond any other combo and the incredibly important ability to destroy Core Medals, meaning it's the only thing capable of destroying Greeeds permanently. However, it has major drawbacks like driving Eiji into a berserker frenzy and gradually turning him into a Greeed himself.
    • OOO's movies introduce a number of exclusive forms that didn't turn up in the show, but occasionally pop up in crossovers.
      • BuraKaWaninote  Combo: A Stone Wall, with powerful Turtle shields on its forearms and the Cobra head capable of generating a Healing Potion-like substance.
      • TaMaShiinote  Combo: A Fighting Clown, giving OOO the power of Momotaros and Shocker. It's technically more powerful than any of the combos aside from TaJaDol and PuToTyra, but only does one thing (launching a Kamehame Hadoken) before the Imagin and Shocker Medals dissolved due to history being corrected.
      • Super TaToBa: A new Super Mode, an enhanced version of the original TaToBa. It's even more powerful than PuToTyra Combo in all regards except punching strength, and it grants OOO Super Speed that verges on Teleportation as a result of being time-displaced.
      • When a collector's version of the Transformation Trinket was released years later, it took Medals that were programmed into the original toy and referenced (but not used by OOO) in canon and arranged them into five new Combos; however, rather than fitting a traditional multi-form structure these forms were designed with specific combat roles in mind. BiKaSonote  Combo is a Close-Range Combatant, the ShiGazeShinote  Combo is about equal to TaToBa Combo but more focused on ground combat, MukaChiRinote  Combo was designed to perform assassinations, SeiShiroGuinnote  Combo was made to operate in cold climates, SaRaMuionote  Combo was made for underwater melee combat.
  • Kamen Rider Fourze doesn't quite fit the standard conventions of this trope:
    • Base States: A Jack-of-All-Stats, being a basic no-frills form without any kind of specialization. It also has the advantage of being the only form able to use right-arm weapons, as form changes otherwise use up that equipment slot.
    • Elek States: Somewhere between a Stone Wall and a Magic Knight, possessing physical power equal to Base States but better defense and an electrified club with a number of useful functions.
    • Fire States: A Mighty Glacier, gaining power and a fireball-shooting gun but losing speed and mobility.
    • Magnet States: The Mid-Season Upgrade, but where most Riders become Lightning Bruisers at this point, Fourze instead effectively becomes a walking turret, armed with armor and Shoulder Cannons but losing almost all mobility. It has the further disadvantage of being unable to use any of Fourze's arm-based weapons, since the Transformation Trinket for Magnet States takes up both the right and left arm slots (other form changes only use the right).
    • Cosmic States: Fourze's Super Mode. Besides the stat boost, it possesses the power to combine two otherwise mutually-exclusive Astroswitches' powers (for example, Freeze plus Launcher lets him fire ice missiles), the ability to generate portals (allowing him to drag Monsters of the Week out to space to avoid collateral damage), and a Cool Sword that can be powered up with arm-based Astroswitches.
    • Rocket States: A movie-feature form (though it does make one appearance in the series later) that's a purer Stone Wall, gaining punching power but with the increased weight making it the slowest of Fourze's forms. Its primary advantage is that it grants him Flight, but doing so takes up both of his arms.
    • Rocket Drill States: A DVD exclusive variation on Rocket States, it has more agility than Rocket but exchanges its kick strength for a lot more punching power.
    • Meteor Fusion States: A movie-exclusive alternate Super Mode, combining the power of Cosmic States with those of Kamen Rider Meteor. It's slightly stronger than Cosmic States but a little slower, but grants Gentaro the fighting skills of Meteor and his Meteor Galaxy gauntlet with its three planet-themed attacks. A later movie introduces the more powerful Meteor Nadeshiko Fusion States, which adds Gentaro's Love Interest Nadeshiko and the power of Rocket States (which she created) to the mix.
  • Kamen Rider Wizard
  • Kamen Rider Gaim:
    • Gaim's forms:
      • Orange Arms is a Jack-of-All-Stats, the base level in all regards and armed with an orange-themed Cool Sword. During a DVD-exclusive episode, it temporarily gets enhanced and becomes Fresh Orange Arms a Lightning Bruiser with strength similar to Jinba Arms (it has a little less attack power than Jinba, but is faster and can jump slightly higher).
      • Pinenote  Arms is a Mighty Glacier, gaining punching power and an Epic Flail in exchange for speed and mobility.
      • Ichigonote  Arms is a Fragile Speedster, losing power and gaining speed and agility plus kunai
      • Jinbanote  Arms is a Lightning Bruiser that gives all of Gaim's stats a boost. It comes in four variations, each with the same stats but granting an additional superpower.note 
      • Kachidokinote  Arms is a mix of Mighty Glacier and Stone Wall, being incredibly slow but with higher power and exceptional armor. It's also armed with the DJ Gun, which can function like a machine gun, shotgun, or cannon.
      • Kiwaminote  Arms is a traditional Super Mode and portrayed as the Finesse to Kachidoki's Force, losing some of Kachidoki's armor power but regaining normal levels of mobility. Its specialty is the power of Spontaneous Weapon Creation, letting him summon any of his or the other Riders' weapons either to fight as a Walking Armory or to fling them at an enemy as a sort of Flechette Storm.
    • Baron's forms:
      • Banana Arms is Baron's Jack-of-All-Stats, being the most balanced of his forms, but being more offensively-oriented than Gaim Orange Arms.
      • Mango Arms is a mix of Mighty Glacier and Glass Cannon, gaining punching power and a rather nasty-looking mace, but being as slow as Gaim Pine Arms and having poor defense.
      • Lemon Energy Arms is Baron's Lightning Bruiser form, stronger than Mango Arms and faster than Banana Arms, plus gaining a multipurpose bow with bladed limbs.
      • Later in the series he gets a Super Mode, but not by gaining a new Rider form: he becomes an Overlord, labeled Lord Baron, which puts him on par with Gaim Kiwami Arms.
    • Ryugen's forms:
      • Budounote  Arms is Ryugen's Jack-of-All-Stats, with statistics equal to Gaim Orange Arms; the main difference is that Budou Arms' weapon is a handgun.
      • Kiwi Arms is a Lightning Bruiser, being stronger than Budou Arms but not taking any significant hit to speed or mobility in the process. Its main disadvantage is trading in the handgun for paired wind-and-fire wheels, losing some range.
      • Ryugen's Lightning Bruiser form is... an interesting case. Instead of getting his own, he steals his brother's Transformation Trinket and becomes the second Zangetsu Shin, which is more powerful but a little slower than Budou Arms.
      • Near the end of the series he gets Yomotsuhegurinote  Arms, a Deadly Upgrade that's the strongest of his forms and gives him access to many weapons (his own and the Overlords'), but continuously drains his life. It ends up being a Powerup Letdown that leaves him in such pain that Kouta can hold him off without transforming, and prolonged use would be fatal.
    • In addition to the above, various Riders also use Suikanote  Arms in addition to their own Arms sets. It arms Riders with a watermelon-themed Mini-Mecha that's incredibly powerful and flight-capable. However, after being used it requires several days to recharge, limiting its usefulness.
  • Kamen Rider Drive
    • Type Speed is a Jack-of-All-Stats that can, as its name implies, achieve bursts of incredible speed.
      • In a DVD he gets a silver version of this form called Type High Speed. It turns out to be only a recolor and not any more or less powerful than the regular Type Speed; but thinking it was better served as a Magic Feather to boost Drive's confidence.
    • Type Wild is a Mighty Glacier, being much stronger than Type Speed but also slower and less agile.
    • Type Technic is a Magic Knight, being a balance between Speed and Wild but with incredible precision and computer-like analysis skills that let him multitask.
    • Type Deadheat, which combines his powers with those of his ally Kamen Rider Mach, is a Glass Cannon, being stronger than his three basic forms in all regards but running the risk of going berserk if he redlines.
    • Type Formula is a Lightning Bruiser, bring stronger than Type Deadheat and capable of running at the speed of sound (so fast that it actually gave Shinnosuke whiplash the first time he used the form). It also gains the Trailer Cannon BFG.
    • Type Tridoron is Drive's Super Mode, stronger than the others in almost every regard (being a little slower than Type Formula) and possessing the ability to let Shinnosuke hand control of his body over to Mr. Belt. He retains the Trailer Cannon from Type Formula.
    • Drive's movies introduce a few exclusive forms: the Gaim-themed Type Fruits is a Fighting Clown, a little sillier than his other forms but more or less equal to Deadheat. Super Deadheat is a weaker Glass Cannon, being an incomplete form capable of fighting but not much else. Type Special is an alternate Super Mode. Zerodrive is a Master of None, since it's the prototype for Type Speed and is overall weaker.
  • Kamen Rider Ghost is another series with a large variety of forms, specifically a pool of 15 historical figures shared among the Riders, meaning some are redundant in terms of stats but have their own specialized equipment and fighting styles.
    • Ghost's forms:
      • Ore Damashiinote  is his Jack-of-All-Stats base form, while his early upgrade Toucon Boost Damashiinote  is a more powerful version of the same. Both are used as the basis that other forms build off of.
      • Musashi Damashii and Goemon Damashii are Glass Cannons, with excellent melee sword skills but little defense and no ranged options.
      • Edison Damashii is a Magic Knight. It's stats are lower in general but not terrible, with the specialties of a Lightning Gun and the ability to absorb electricity in order to "spark" ideas.
      • Newton Damashii and Benkei Damashii are Mighty Glaciers. Both are stronger but far slower; and Newton gains Gravity Master powers while Benkei wields a warhammer.
      • Robin Hood Damashii and Billy the Kid Damashii are Fragile Speedsters, faster and more agile than normal forms and wielding ranged weapons (a bow and arrow and Guns Akimbo respectively).
      • Beethoven Damashii and Himiko Damashii are Squishy Wizards, exchanging physical strength for magical powers (Magic Music for Beethoven and straight-up magic for Himiko).
      • Ryoma Damashii is a Jack-of-All-Stats, giving only small stat gains over either Ore or Toucon Boost and being proficient with both sword and gun.
      • Grateful Damashii is Ghost's Mid-Season Upgrade, channeling the powers of all 15 Damashii. Beyond general heightened stats, its main power is the ability to summon any of the 15 Heroes to aid him in battle; however, the Heroes have to work in harmony or Takeru can't use this form.note  It also has the drawback that he's monopolizing the Damashii in this form, so his allies can't use them.
      • Mugennote  Damashii is Ghost's Super Mode, more powerful than Grateful Damashii, posessing incredible defense, and lacking Grateful's weaknesses.
      • The movie-exclusive Tenkatoitsunote  Damashii is even more powerful than Mugen Damashii and gives him access to Specter and Necrom's weapons in addition to his own.
    • Specter's forms:
      • His Specter Damashii base form is his Jack-of-All-Stats, with balanced stats.
      • Tutankhamun Damashii is a Fragile Speedster, losing defenses but able to strike quickly with a scythe.
      • Nobunaga Damashii is a Glass Cannon, having more physical strength and a powerful rifle, but lower defense and speed.
      • Houdini Damashii is a Lightning Bruiser, superior to Specter in all regards as well as being capable of Flight, generating chains to attack and bind enemies, and other magic tricks.
      • Specter also occasionally borrows Ghost's Edison Damashii, becoming a Magic Knight.
      • Deep Specter is a Super Mode, stronger than all the others and roughly equivalent to Ghost's Grateful Damashii. It can also equip any of the 15 Damashii and gain their specialties, like the Riders' base forms can. Makoto can further empower this into Gekikounote  Mode, unleashing his full potential and giving him wings.
      • Sin Specter is a movie-exclusive even stronger Super Mode, even more powerful than Gekikou Deep Specter and his counterpart to Ghost Mugen Damashii.
    • Necrom's forms:
      • As with Specter, his Necrom Damashii base form is a Jack-of-All-Stats.
      • Grimm Damashii is a Magic Knight, being slightly weaker than base Necrom but having mid-range offense thanks to the extending pens on his shoulders.
      • Sanzo Damashii is a Mighty Glacier, being stronger but slower than his other forms and possessing the power to summon characters from Journey to the West (specifically Sun Wukong, Zhu Wuneng, and Sha Wujing) to aid him in battle.
      • In Specter's movie, he gains a Super Mode called Yuujounote  Burst, but only really gets to use it to perform a Finishing Move before getting knocked out by a surprise attack.
  • Mostly averted in Kamen Rider Ex-Aid, which does have multiple forms but instead has a Next Tier Power-Up setup, with each Rider's various forms ranked at different Power Levels. Kamen Rider Para-DX plays this straight with two forms at Level 50 that contrast Force and Finesse; though both are incredibly powerful, Fighter Gamer is themed around direct combat while Puzzle Gamer is more supportive and has the ability to grant himself Status Buffs. He can later merge the two into his Level 99 Super Mode, Perfect Knockout Gamer.note 
  • Kamen Rider Build is similar to Double in that he combines the powers of two bottled essences, but Build possesses a much larger collection of Bottles with thirty for each half. Also, like OOO, he gets a Set Bonus for using certain Bottles together. Because this is more than the show can reasonably give proper focus to (many pairs only make one or two token appearances, and some are relegated to being All There in the Manual), we'll only give the highlights:
    • RabbitTank Form is the Jack-of-All-Stats, being the best balanced of Build's forms but very few specialized weapons or abilities that other forms have (just a Spring Coil on one foot and tank treads on the other).
    • GorillaMondnote  Form is a Mighty Glacier, being incredibly powerful offensively and defensively but also incredibly slow.
    • HawkGatling Form is a Magic Knight, being weaker than RabbitTank all around but still being useful thanks to its combination of Flight and the Hawk Gatlinger gatling gun. It ends up being one of Build's most-used forms after RabbitTank, as he switches to it whenever he wants to try and get air superiority over an opponent or when he needs to fight on the move.
    • NinninComic Form is treated as a Squishy Wizard, relying most on a variety of ninja powers like Fire, Wind, Clone and Vanishing Jutsus. This form equips Build with the 4Koma Ninpoutou.
    • PandaRocket Form is a Glass Cannon, being strong but slow (though not to the level of GorillaMond) and being able to fly thanks to his rocket arm. Unusually for Kamen Rider, this finds more use for utility than for combat, as Sento often switches to it when he needs to blast off and make a quick getaway.
    • KeyDragon Form is a Deadly Upgrade, being incredibly powerful all around but effectively unusable because the Dragon Bottle overloads and injures Sento every time it's used. Eventually Sento retires it and gives the Dragon Bottle to The Lancer Ryuga permanently, who doesn't suffer the overloading issue and uses it to become Kamen Rider Cross-Z.
    • KaizokuRessyanote  Form is a Fragile Speedster, being one of Build's fastest forms and wielding a bow, the Kaizoku Hassyar, that gives him long-range capabilities.
    • PhoenixRobo Form is a Lightning Bruiser movie form and another powerful combo on par with KeyDragon, and it doesn't even have the overloading issue that the Dragon half does. Unfortunately, Sento is only able to use it a couple times because he usually doesn't have those Bottles in his possession.
    • RabbitTank Sparkling is Build's first major upgrade, being more powerful than any of his previous Best Matches and having free access to the Hawk Gatlinger, 4Koma Ninpoutou, and Kaizoku Hassyar in addition to his standard Drill Crusher weapon - or even more than one of those at once.
    • Matching Bottles can be upgraded to Hazard forms (RabbitTank Hazard, HawkGatling Hazard et al.), which are Deadly Upgrades; increasing their power exponentially but also overriding Sento's mind and turning him into an emotionless killing machine. Even after getting stronger, more controllable forms, Sento will occasionally use Hazard instead because of the variety of powers and fighting styles it offers.
    • RabbitRabbit Form and TankTank Form, upgrades to RabbitTank Hazard which each ramp some of that form's attributes even higher and more importantly, allow him to keep control. RabbitRabbit has enhanced speed and agility and giving Build the ability to stretch all of his limbs in long lengths, while TankTank instead has tough armor and offensive firepower.
    • Genius Form is his Super Mode, combining the powers of all sixty regular Bottles. Its stats are an even balance between RabbitRabbit and TankTank, in addition to having its own features: bursts of Flash Step, the capability to analyze opponents for weaknesses, and the ability to neutralize the Nebula Gas that's the source of everyone's powers.
    • Near the end of the series, the Rabbit and Dragon Bottles get supercharged and create two alternate RabbitDragon Super Modes: In the movie, they combine with the Genius Bottle and activate a Fusion Dance merging Sento and Ryuga together into Cross-ZBuild. In the series finale, the resulting form uses the normal Rabbit and Dragon halves only colored gold and silver; and this form is only used for the final Finishing Move.
  • Downplayed in Kamen Rider Zi-O. Kamen Riders Zi-O and Geiz have an assortment of 20 Armors between them that have different stats and abilities, not counting their base forms (though only 13 Armors appear in the series); but a rule of fighting the series' monsters is that it Takes One to Kill One. Rather than focusing on the Armors' specialties, the key instead is to acquire the specific one that corresponds to the monster they're fighting. Kamen Rider Woz also has three alternate forms of his own, but the same rule applies.

    Anime and Manga 

    Fan Works 
  • The Pieces Lie Where They Fell: omake-only character Reel, as Kamen Rider Skull the Second, has multiple Rider forms he can change between, but the omake chapters only show two: his default form, and his strongest. Word of God states that his fifth form is his Super Mode, Kamen Rider Skull Xtreme, and the form used for battle in the final omake is his sixth and final form, Kamen Rider Skull Gold Xtreme.
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    Literature 
  • 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 

    Mythology 

    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 and enhanced senses 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.
  • The Naturalist's Form ongoings in Sentinels of the Multiverse each have their own mechanical benefits: Crocodile deals more damage and buffs a lot of damaging effects, Gazelle has a lot of recovery and control options, and Rhinoceros is durable and has access to card draw. Naturalist gameplay relies heavily on shifting between these forms to get whatever effects online that are most useful in the current situation (although the Hunted Naturalist is able to stack the symbols, just not the Forms).
  • In Pathfinder the shifter class gains access to a selection of animal aspects as they level, each of which has a minor form, where they mostly retain their original appearance but gain some kind of bonus based on the aspect chosen, and a major form, where they transform entirely into that animal. While they can eventually keep multiple minor forms active at once, it's expected a shifter will choose some aspects based on the different roles their major forms are suited to, such as turning into a tiger for combat, a mouse for stealth, and a falcon for flight.

    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 specializing 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 Magic Knight, with the same armor as a bear, but no way to hold aggro other than damage output, with the ability to both toast foes from range, and when out of mana, to (less effectively) crack noggins with melee weapons. While all Druids have access to Bear Form and Cat Form, they don't work very well for non-Feral or Guardian Druids. The travel forms of a bird in the air, a stag on land or a seal in the water, give increased mobility at the cost of very weak or no attacks.
  • 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.
  • One of the weapons in Monster Hunter a player can wield is the Charge Blade, a sword and a shield with good attack, good defence and average mobility. This duo can combine on fly into a big axe with slow, hard hitting attacks and no defensive capabilities. The Charge Blade is quite well rounded but rather difficult to learn.
  • 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.

    Webcomics 
  • 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 stronger attack, the Blast Caster can generate electricity, the Boogie Pack can launch a few projectiles to grab enemies, and so on).

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