Now you see me, now you don’t! Well you do, only I look like I’m someone completely different now. Hush, I can be exactly what you’re looking for, or become your worst nightmare. Yes, I’m a whole different type of beast; the kind who would rather walk right up to you and change before your very eye than to stalk you and take you out from the shadows.
I can only be talking about shapeshifters, those tricky little blighters who know how to get in the skin of their opposition: Literally! They manage to change forms, sometimes becoming entirely different creatures in the process, but fear not! This week we’re going to give you a run down of our Top 10 Shapeshifters, so you know what and who to look out for.
10) Chaos Obliterators – Warhammer 40k
The warp does strange things to a soul lost in it for too long, and as the name might suggest it can do odd things to the body too. But when your gods are obsessed with change, war, heights of sensation and plague, then you’re bound to end up with something that strongly resembles the Obliterator Virus. Though the body of an Obliterator is mutable, it’s always recognisably an Obliterator, a vast fusion of flesh and power-armour, a distorted face lost in a mass of heavy limbs bearing a variety of heavy weapons that grow from the skin.
The shape shifting comes from an Obliterators ability to change the tools it has at its disposal by altering their body. They can spawn new guns, new machines, and even replenish their ammo through the constant shifting of their metal and flesh fusion. While an Obliterator is always easy to spot in a crowd, he might not look the same today as he did last week, as chaos’ mutations rarely sit still for long. While Tzeench and his horrors may embody change, we felt these particular monsters suited this list better.
9) Greymon – Digimon
Since Agumon is the one who digivolves into Greymon, it seems weird for us to pinpoint Greymon of all the Digimon. Actually, we could replace Greymon, or Agumon with just about any of the Digimon. Sure, the Digidestined are the ones we’re meant to care about the most; the boys and girls who have been sucked into the digital world to defend it with their Digimon partners. The struggles these boys and girls went through to defend the digital world are immense… But we’re not counting fusion Digievolution here, that came way later and isn’t shapeshifting (really).
But Digimon themselves are amongst the ultimate shapeshifters. They are able to turn from a tiny little creature into massive monstrosities and none are quite so imposing as Greymon and his Digivolutions. Agumon is cute, but when he turns into Greymon, he’s suddenly quite terrifying. Next he can become Wargreymon and even Skullgreymon. He’s a Digimon you wouldn’t want to mess with and of course, it helps he’s the Digi-face of the Digi-franchise!
8) Thing – John Carpenter
I’ve been talking a lot about the Thing lately but in a rather different context, and it’s the first time John Carpenter’s most famous beastie has made it into the list. The extra terrestrial horror is perhaps less well known for consuming people and assuming their shape in order to isolate and devour another, as it is for its chosen methods.
The Thing is not an organism in the normal sense, as an ever shifting mass of cells that mimic anything they remember, and can form any structure they so choose, even if it means separating from the whole. Roving limbs, creeping heads, torsos filled with teeth, limbs, tentacles and heads aplenty. There’s no hiding from a creature with eyes in the back of every head, but when it steals your friends’ skins and wears them better than they ever did, you’ll never see it coming.
7) Room of Requirements – Harry Potter
I feel a little bad for choosing a room over the wide variety of shapeshifting creatures and wizards and whatnot that the Harry Potter world has to offer, but c’mon, this is by far the coolest room in Hogwarts. Dumbledore recalls stumbling across a room filled with chamber pots in his quest for a bathroom and then never found the place again. In times of old it was used as a secret stash for things in dire need of safekeeping, and in many ways it continued to do so when the most precious thing was freedom.
They key to entry is necessity, and it is a room that becomes what is ever is necessary. The broad dimensions remain the same, as does the location (unlike a lot of other parts of the school), but it comes equipped with contents and facilities based on the needs of the individual, and a keen mind can even finely tune the contents, rather than relying on whatever the room thinks it best. Imagine what could have been if Dumbledore had been particularly focused on plumbing.
6) Kameo: Elements of Power
Probably amongst the coolest ideas for a game, Kameo was the titular character of this Xbox exclusive title. Developed by Rare studios, this game was highly interesting for its time. This could have been a big IP, but it certainly didn’t get any traction from there. I was only introduced to this game this year and I found it highly entertaining. Kameo then is a shapeshifter with a motive, a form changer with a cause – But what does she do exactly?
Kameo has different forms, depending on what she needs to do. She can turn into up to ten different elemental warriors which are centred around the classical elements (Water, Fire, Wood and so on). She uses her different Warriors abilities to help her do different things; one allows her to spin very quickly and launch at opponents and breakable terrain, another allows her to climb. Some make her small, some make her tall – But there’s one thing for certain in Kameo, it’s a wasted opportunity, but the game itself is highly memorable as it was one of the first proper Xbox games that made a difference to the console. You could say she helped transform the platform!
This one is implicit, even in their names; like it or not, the Transformers are in face Shapeshifters. I mean their name alone makes them synonymous with shapeshifters. They are great big robotic goliaths who are able to change form to meet demand of any situation they’re faced with. It doesn’t matter how dangerous the opposition, the Transformers will be ready to defend Earth whenever they’re needed.
Whether they’re a car, or a bike, these giants are capable of transforming into vehicles of all shapes and sizes. For instance, Optimus is able to transform into a truck of some description (depending on the season/universe) and back into a big robot of humanoid appearance. We didn’t specifically single out Optimus Prime because all of the robots in the Transformers franchise are able to, y’know, transform. It’s part of what makes this franchise so enjoyable!
4) Cosmo and Wanda – Fairly Odd Parents
This might be a bit of a stretch but I hope you’ll come around to our way of thinking at the end of this section. Cosmo and Wanda are two Fairy God Parents for Timmy Turner, an average boy whose life is rather boring and no-one understands him. That is until Cosmo and Wanda appear in his life, becoming his Fairy God Parents (or Fairly Odd Parents). However, Cosmo and Wanda are magical beings and along with that, they possess the ability to transform.
By day, Cosmo and Wanda are usually around Timmy to some degree. Whether they’re his Goldfish, or perhaps his pencil and notepad, they’re always there to assist him to some capacity. This helps to alleviate some of the suspicions Timmy’s teacher, Mr. Crocker, might have about Timmy’s possession of Fairy God Parents. The duo (eventually trio) are downright hilarious and the hijinks they and Timmy get into are often entertaining. They’re not the most powerful fairies of their kind, but they certainly are important to one young boy.
3) Mystique – X-Men
Alright we all saw this one coming. When it comes to assuming the shape of another humanoid there’s no peer, and the ability to shift down to the minutest of details, voice, eyes and all, Mystique has a camouflage that is absolutely faultless, and considering her natural form really makes her stick out in a crowd that’s just as well. What is it in human DNA that the natural development of superpowers turns us blue?
As a keen observer of people, Mystique is often faultless at copying her mark down to the ticks and mannerisms, and given her shocking intellect she’s also a swift study, so anything she should know when going into a stealthy operation she can learn fast. In a pinch she’s also an excellent fighter, highly agile, and makes good use of her abilities to make capture practically impossible. She also later develops the power to create extra physical attributes, like wings or talons, making this assassin far more deadly. It’s just hard not to think that she’s always naked, all the time…
No… no, those aren’t actually clothes…
2) Altered Beast
“Rise From Your Grave!”
Altered Beast is an old SEGA game, one of the first games that I’m aware of that had a shapeshifter. It’s a game that dates back to 1988 and when it was first released on the SEGA Mega Drive/Genesis, it was met with some criticisms of the sprite quality. However, the scrolling backgrounds were more than enough to place the quality of them much higher than their arcade equivalents.
At first glance, Altered Beast isn’t much. It’s a game where you play as a big man who goes along, collects power-ups and turns into many different beasts. I guess you can say he altered himself into beasts. When he has accumulated enough power-ups, the fighter turns into a beast of some kind, from werewolves to dragons and even karate-bears, he’s able to transform and kick legendary butts. The whole game was themed around Ancient Greece, so if you’re looking to deliver an Ancient Greek beat-down, this is the game for you. We rank it highly mostly due to the nostalgia factor but also because of its importance in shapeshifting video games. Thank you, Altered Beast!
1) Ditto – Pokemon
Could there be any other than the adorable pink blob that is Ditto to top our list for Shapeshifters? I mean this little guy is hilarious, it’s cute (even though it’s just a blob) and it’s spawned countless wannabes and even better; there is merchandise of Ditto as it’s transformed into other Pokemon. No seriously, check out these really adorable figures from the Pokemon Company, which are things like Vaporeon with a Ditto’s face.
Don’t let that derpy face fool you, behind those innocent eyes are savage killers and highly important counters. Okay, so most Pokemon don’t struggle against themselves, but if you’re looking for an unexpected counter to a Dragon-Type, why not bring out the Ditto and transform it into your enemies Dragon? Trust me; they’ll not believe they have to fight their own Pokemon! Not the easiest Pokemon to use, but certainly amongst the most satisfying.
You caught them in the act; their forms have been exposed and now you know who our top shapeshifters really are. But now it’s time for two more who definitely deserve a mention, but certainly aren’t as good as the tricky bunch above.
Ahh, this takes me back. From 1996 to 2001 the book series started by K. A. Applegate and went on to become a mildly successful TV series (starring a young Shawn Ashmore) featured a cast of characters who obtained the power to mimic any animal with whom they had physical contact and a war they fought in secret against a race of parasitic brain slugs. It was directed to a target market of younger readers, and came with a collection of toys to which Beast Wars Transformers owes a little of its creation.
The teenagers lived their lives and fought their war in secret, making use of whatever animal they were conveniently close to in the fight against an equally elusive enemy. It’s all very 90’s, but like most 90’s things it may yet be seeing a revival in the form of a film that began discussion phases last year.
Druids – Role Playing Games
A basic druid power from any fantasy book is the power to assume the form of totemic animals, wolves, bears, eagles and the like. It’s been a standard of the class since the early days of the tabletop RPG and has carried over into the video game world too, but naturally the origins go far deeper. Druids left no recorded accounts of their beliefs, and so we can only infer from what was observed by others, mostly the Romans. Amongst their other capabilities are the power to turn others into animals, or stone, to heal diseases or create them.
It’s less commonly recorded that the ancient druids could transform into animals, but that never stops a good designer. Given just enough of a prompt and designers can make anything a classic, and the power to make yourself into an animal is pretty cool, and often half the reason to take the class.
Hey, I’m you right now and since I am you, I think I’ll have to vote for next week’s Top 10 topic. Here we go:
Now that you have seen all of my various forms, it’s time to turn back into our base form. We’re back to how we should be, having been stretched and pulled and morphed. But that doesn’t have to mean that the conversation is over. Just because you’ve seen our many various shapes, doesn’t mean we’re right. Let us know what you thought of our choices of shapeshifting wonders and what about our order? Did we miss any shapeshifters who really should get a mention? As always, leave your comments below, or over on Facebook, Twitter or Reddit.