Forme Change - What it Could Change in Pokemon Go

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Fashion Week: not exactly the most memorable recurring event in Pokemon Go. In fact, I for one had literally forgotten that it even was a recurring event when the announcement for the 2021 edition was announced, and only remembered when they specifically mentioned the costumed Pokemon that were returning from the last time that this event rolled around. We received a few new Avatar items, a new Pokemon or two, and new costumes (which, themselves, are a long-running Pokemon Go meme), so it hasn’t had much to offer, right? Well, normally that’s true, but this year it actually has some new meaning. In fact, this event could be the starting point for a new paradigm in Pokemon Go that has the potential to entirely change the way that we look at specific Pokemon forever. So let’s dive in and take a look at Furfrou, and the effects that this simple Pokemon is poised to have in the present and future alike.

Before we begin in earnest, a quick note about terminology for those unfamiliar: the Pokemon franchise tends to use the word “forme” when talking about Pokemon forms, so we will be referring to them as such here, as we tend to do throughout Gamepress as a whole.

The Rise of the Poodle

Furfrou; a Normal Type Pokemon. That statement alone means that it’s worthless in PvE. And while it arguably has some worth in PvP, it’s not stand-out by any means. So why is it stand-out enough to have this entire article literally orbit around it? Simple; it’s the first Pokemon that has the ability to change formes!

This capability is shared among many Pokemon, especially in later generations, but Furfrou represents the debut for the system in Pokemon Go. So what exactly is forme change? It’s the ability for a Pokemon to make a permanent or temporary change involving a change in one or more of stats/ty;ping/moveset/appearance. “Like Mega Evolution?”, some may ask, and the answer is… kind of? Mega Evolution is a temporary change that is supposed to be almost purely a boost with a limitation of one Mega Evolved Pokemon at a time. Forme change, meanwhile, is simply switching a Pokemon around from one variant to another. “What about alternate variants, like Basculin or Wormadam? Or regional variants?” others may ask. And while these are indeed alternate formes, these Pokemon are a bit unique in that their formes are basically encoded into their DNA. They can’t change them, so they won’t be able to benefit from this system and won't be covered in this article.

So what exactly does this mean for us? It means that Pokemon that we have now and/or will be getting in the future may have more value than expected. The ability to change a Pokemon’s forme can, in some cases, equate to turning them into entirely different Pokemon on a whim, which can make them extremely attractive investments for the sake of their role compression. Note that the exact odds of this system effecting existing Pokemon is ambiguous at best, and the Gamepress team has opinions on the matter ranging from it being very unlikely, to nearly being a given for some Pokemon on this list. Time will tell where the system lands in the long run.

So how do we do it? Well, the screenshots above pretty much tell us all that we know about the system to date. It costs Stardust and Candy, and will give the player a choice of available formes. Is this going to be the entire requirement moving forward? Maybe, maybe not. We may see special items/quest requirements to change some Pokemon, but we’ll discuss those as we come to them.

The Current Candidates

When it comes to what we have now, the idea of if/how these Pokemon will gain the Forme Change ability is a bit sketchy. But this article would be woefully incomplete without them, so let’s get started! We’re going to be mentioning items that these Pokemon use to evolve in the main series, but they don’t seem super-likely to be utilized here, as Niantic has been getting away from individual Pokemon items as of late in favor of blanket items such as the Sinnoh Stone or Unova Stone. Here are the currently released Pokemon that have some form of forme change in the main series games:

This little Pokemon was a bit of a divining rod for players when it was first released, as it pointed the way towards the direction that Pokemon Go would end up going by way of formes. This was the first Pokemon released that could actually change formes in the main series, so it set the bar moving forward. Like in Go, its forme in the main series depends on the current weather. However, it also dynamically changes with every weather type that was active on the field. For this reason, future forme change mechanics for Castforme will likely have a weather component when/if added to Pokemon Go

Catch a really good Speed Forme Deoxys? Well guess what; it may become valuable someday! ...maybe. Nowadays, the only Deoxys with real value is Defense Forme, so PvP IVs are key here. This is an interesting Pokemon, as it was actually locked into a specific forme when caught back when it was released in the main series, but later gained the ability to forme change in other games.

Rotom is a fun little Ghost that can take over appliances and change its forme as a result. While it’s unlikely to make a huge impact, it’s nice to know that we may be able to force our current Rotoms to spit out their washing machines and eat other appliances instead.

This was the big one back when it was released, and it’s still a big one on the wish-list for forme change even today. Giratina: Altered Forme came first, and while it’s great in PvP, it’s often overshadowed by more PvE-capable Origin Forme. The ability to change formes here would make Giratina far more valuable, especially after its signature move, Shadow Force, is released… someday. It's also worth mentioning that it will be returning in October, which is definitely interesting timing!

In the main series, Giratina has two ways to forme change: one is by being in a specific “world” (the normal world has its Altered forme, while the Distortion World has its Origin Forme), and the other is by holding an item called the Griseous Orb. 

Oh boy… here we go. Normal Darmanitan has its own Zen Mode. But Galarian Darmanitan? If it becomes eligible, forme change that sucker as soon as possible! Galarian Darmanitan: Zen Mode is a frigid monster of a Pokemon that will absolutely dethrone the entire Ice Type meta as soon as it drops. 

On the old-fashioned Darmanitan, it turns into a Fire/Psychic type, and actually has a solid potential presence in PvP. It becomes nicely defensive, and currently has a strong moveset with good potential coverage

Thanks to spikefist for pointing out the potential of Darmanitan - Zen Mode in the comments.

Remember these guys? Well, they have the potential to forme change in the future! In most cases, one version is clearly better than the other, so this just makes it so that the worse formes may still be worth raiding in some cases.

In the main series, these three use an item called the Reveal Glass to change formes. 

Here’s another big one: in the main series, Kyurem can absorb Zekrom or Reshiram to become Kyurem Black or Kyurem White, respectively. Kyurem Black in particular has massive potential, so any good Kyurem that you may have may yet get their chance to shine.

As stated: this forme change required merging Kyurem with another Pokemon in the main series. Since we don’t have any sort of analog for that here, it’s hard to say how this will play out, if it uses the upcoming forme change system at all.

Meloetta just happens to have gotten its full global release around this time, and it just happens to have its currently unobtainable Normal/Fighting Type Piroette forme awaiting its big arrival. This is a very likely forme change candidate!

This is another odd case; in the main series, Meloetta is only able to obtain its Piroette forme in battle, and only after using its signature move, Relic Song. It would seem odd to have this Pokemon without Relic Song, so maybe having this move will be a requirement for changing formes? If we’re correct, then this will likely set the standard for moveset-related forme changes moving forward.

Give it a special Drive, and it changes its forme. Different formes come with different movesets, which could change its PvP utility, but does nothing for its PvE presence: just use a Bug Type moveset.

Oh look, another forme-change Pokemon slated for October!

This is another huge one: Ash Greninja has the potential to become a massively powerful Pokemon, and one that cannot be ignored moving forward. After it inevitably receives Hydro Cannon during its far-off Community Day, this simple starter could become a must-have.

In the main series, this is another in-battle change. It requires a hidden ability (which we don’t have here), and that Greninja KOs an opponent in battle. The former could mean the introduction of some form of an event Greninja with the unique capability to forme change, but we currently have no real precedent to back that speculation up currently. 

Gee, Hoopa is the star of this season, and forme change just happens to start happening right after we can catch its Confined forme. I wonder if we’ll see its Unbound forme? All kidding aside; being able to forme change our Hoopa to Hoopa Unbound will probably be the highlight of the Season of Mischief, and is probably an imminent upgrade. 

This is another odd one: in the main series it requires the Prison Bottle to change formes, and it will only stay forme changed for 3 days in a manner similar to Furfrou. But since Furfrou has no time limits on its styles, Hoopa Unbound is probably home-free. Still, keep an eye on this one, as it may reveal the way that item-forme-change is handled in Go!

Remember when we told you to not worry about catching Zacian: Hero of Many Battles and Zamazenta: Hero of Many Battles? Yeah, Niantic may have just sucker-punched us. While in the past alternate forms have been entirely different Pokemon, these two seem likely candidates for forme change. Zamazenta isn’t a gigantic deal, but Zacian will be a very dominant force in its Crowned Sword forme, making it another must-have

These two needed the Rusted Sword and Rusted Shield respectively to change formes in the main series, so keep an eye on how Hoopa handles it if our predictions are correct!

The Future Candidates

These are the Pokemon yet to be released that will be worth a second look, as they may be able to forme change eventually. This could change a “meh” Pokemon release into a “YES!” Pokemon release in some cases!

In its Land Forme, Shaymin has little hope. But in its Sky forme, it could be a seriously powerful Grass Type Pokemon worth investing in. If they do something about its fast move issue, that is…

In the main series, this Land Forme Shaymin takes an item known as the Gracidea to change to its Sky Forme. It changes forme again under specific circumstances, but they likely won't matter in Pokemon Go.

Grab a type-plate, and BAM! Your Arceus can be literally any type in the game! Players have long speculated about this, as having 18 formes could easily turn Arceus into one of the most tedious Pokemon of all time if it ever becomes a raid boss. But the forme change mechanic could easily change this and make it viable to simply catch one and then turn it to whatever type it needs to be. Hopefully it will get new movesets for each type, as well.

In the main series, players can obtain a set of 17 different "plates" that change Arceus' type, with Normal being its default type.

Also worth noting is the fact that Arceus is going to be the title Pokemon in Pokemon Legends: Arceus, which is set to release early next year. Seems like an advantageous time to release this Mythical Pokemon, doesn't it?

Keldeo’s forme change to its Resolute Forme is entirely dependent on it knowing its signature move; Secret Sword. However, the change is 100% cosmetic, so it’s a bit less important than many others. Still; if we get Keldeo - Resolute Forme and TM away Secret Sword, would it automatically change back to normal? Would it even be possible to TM away Secret Sword? Interesting to consider.

Of course Niantic could just give the two formes different movesets and call it a day, since being capable of knowing Secret Sword is close enough.

We know that its Blade and Shield formes are considered entirely different Pokemon in the game master, so this seems a natural choice. In-game it always enters battle in its Shield forme, turns to Blade forme when attacking, and changes back after using the move King’s Shield. It’s highly unlikely that Niantic would implement something so convoluted in Go, though.

This is… an odd one. Zygarde has 3 formes: 10%, 50%, and Complete. 10% is basically worthless, 50% could see some PvP utility, and Complete is basically Blissey on steroids with a double weakness to compensate. If we see forme changes available here, then even a 10% Zygarde release could be worth raiding for due to its future potential utility. 

Changing between 4 different formes depending on where they’re caught, with a set of special in-games item able to change the formes at will. Truth be told, this Pokemon reeks of having different formes locked behind different regions, so it seems a somewhat unlikely candidate for the new system.

In its base forme, this little guy is worthless. But when in its School forme, it’s…. Somewhat close to Gyarados, really. In-game it starts in School forme, but reverts to normal when its HP drops below a certain point.

Let’s be honest here: this is Arceus light. All of the same points stand here, but with a bit less enthusiasm. (Please don't kill me, TForgery)

This one would probably be purely cosmetic if released at all, but after taking a hit in the main series, Mimikyu’s costume basically falls over and to the side. It's not relevant, it's not important, it's not even note-worthy. It’s just great for how freaking cute it is.

This is another big one for the system. We have 4 different variants of Necrozma: its base forme is first, and then its Dawn Wings/Dusk Mane formes, which are obtained by absorbing Lunala/Solgaleo respectively, and finally it can then enter its final forme, Ultra Necrozma. This monster could threaten even Shadow Mewtwo as a Psychic Type given good signature moves. Dawn Wings and Dusk Mane will probably follow whatever precedent is set with Kyurem, as it’s the same basic idea, though Ultra Necrozma actually more closely resembles Mega Evolution in terms of function in the main series.

When it uses Surf or Dive in the main series, it can occasionally come back with an Arrokuda in its beak, which it spits out when attacked. This actually counts as a new forme, believe it or not. But if you’re REALLY lucky, it will come back with a freaking Pikachu in its beak. This is hilarious and I’d pay money to have a Cramorant attempting to swallow a Pikachu in my party forever.

The Gen 8 Pika clone is a Electric/Dark  type Pokemon that changes its forme via via its “hangry” mode. It changes every single turn in the main series, though it’s highly unlikely that we’ll see such a mechanic in Go.

Nononononono, we DON’T need this Pokemon to forme change in Go! It’s technically a Dynamax/Gygantamax forme in some way, but it’s unobtainable in the main series. Maybe if we get a Dyamax system in Go, but as an alternate forme? No thank you! Eternamax Eternatus is just too strong!

It’s… a thing. This would be a case similar to Kyurem or Necrozma, as Calyrex rides either Spectrier or Glastrier to become… a new forme? Well, Cramorant made our list by nearly swallowing a Pikachu, so I guess that this counts?

Speculation and Forecast

Let’s make this very clear: above, we’ve outlined the most likely candidates for the new forme change mechanic. However, it’s extremely likely that only a select few will see the system added to them, and their actual requirements will likely be watered down. Legends and Mythical Pokemon will probably see a hefty 100 Candy/100,000 Stardust cost to forme change, similar to adding a new move, and we may see other costs as well. Some may be exclusively available during events, some will probably be regional-exclusive like Furfrou,  and still others will probably have requirements that we haven’t predicted. Niantic tends to take the simple route with most new systems, but they also tend to come out from left field with their ideas, so it’s hard to say what the future will bring.

At this point, keep an eye on Meloetta and Hoopa. These two could be the thermometer for the system, as they will tell us how wide-spread it’s likely to be, as well as how items/moveset requirements will be handled. We have very little precedent to go by as of now, so any hard data moving forward could reveal quite a bit about what the future of Pokemon Go may actually look like.

The Financial Side

Here's a fact: Niantic is a company. And what is the goal of a company? To maximize profit. With that in mind, how do we calculate the odds of this system being wide-spread? By looking at what impact it's likely to have on Niantic's bottom line. In looking at this system, it may seem as though this is something of a charitable system that Niantic could add to Pokemon Go to give us more bang for our buck. But it goes a bit deeper than that, in truth.

Let's say, for example, that Giratina gains the ability to Forme Change when it returns this October. Great! Now many of us can just flip our Giratina to its preferred forme and be done with it. But hang on, now the Altered forme has value that it lacked before! It might be a good idea to raid a few of them, as getting that sacred 100% suddenly comes with absolutely no regret that it wasn't an Origin Forme! Oh, and now candy has more value since it's needed for the forme change (calling 100 for Legendary Pokemon), so best to farm that a bit. Oh, and getting that candy also led to a lot of XL candy, may as well raid a bit more for that too!

This system has no real down-side for Niantic. Before, less desirable formes were ignored in favor of their better variants. But now? Niantic can potentially release the less important variants and the community will still want them due to their new value. Not only that, but the candy cost for the forme change could be a resource sink for even more raids, meaning more candy/rare candy will be needed for the ideal outcome. We also have potential FoMo (fear of missing out) to calculate here, as literally none of the Pokemon on the future list here can be ignored now, as they could be turned into their alternate formes at the flip of a switch on Niantic's part. It's also content! They can now release forme A of a Pokemon, forme B of a Pokemon six months later, and then introduce the forme change mechanic 6 months after that, turning 1 Pokemon into 3 events.

While it's true that some people will just switch an old Giratina-A to a Giratina-O and be done with it, this new system does have the potential to spawn new sales for Niantic, which is why seeing more forme changes in the future does seem likely.

Now, the argument can be made that Niantic already makes enough money and doesn't need to follow this pattern, and that would be correct! However, why would they leave money on the table that they could just as easily pick up? This system can be great, but a calculating eye can see its potential as a tool for Niantic to secure future content and sales. Are they bad for it? No, they're a company and they're trying to make money. However, it's best to be aware of it as we move forward so what we can plan out our moves in a more informed manner.


So despite the cynical look at Niantic as a company, is this system a good thing for Pokemon Go? Yes! It's manageable, and adds new potential value to some of our Pokemon moving forward. Frankly, I for one am excited to see how this goes, and have a new respect for the Season of Mischief as a result. However, I'm also looking forward to try to forecast what the future will bring. Will I always be right? Oh heck no! But at least I feel confident in spending my raid passes knowing what may, or may not, come to pass in Pokemon Go's future.

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About the Author(s)

Gamepress Pokemon Go site lead with a focus on theorycrafting and gameplay optimization and a background in business management and freelance writing.  A bit of a hermit, but also an outdoors enthusiast who loves cycling and hiking. Long-time Gamepress fan who is very proud to be a part of the team.