I love this little dork.
Waddling around on two stubby feet, waving around single-block arms, emoting with just its eyelids… Nosepass is on the “design-by-reduction” train, keeping only the details that make her more appealing.
Oh, and the schnozz.
Some say that it looks goofy and makes her little more than a gag Pokémon – that thought was especially strong before she got an evolution later. But honestly, we have so many one-off, gimmicky Pokémon already that it’s hardly worth condemning her for. Especially not when she’s marrying in-game lore with real-world references so well.
But we’ll get to that in a moment.
For now, as a simple stone creature, she’s doing great. She’s even got little holes for her ears like a lizard-skull might have, but I could see how her arms would fold up and sit nicely there, matching the head-holes with the divots where her hands would be. I love that they could pack an action-feature detail like that into a creature that’s otherwise so simple a kindergartener could draw it.
Probopass is over the line into “obnoxious”, though. She has four heads with four noses now, pointing in four directions – but with one obvious “main” head. She floats by way of pure magnetism now, her head has gotten more detail – though I admit the full eyeballs are much less appealing – and she’s got one very obvious new detail.
It’s made out of metal filings, which is a fairly clever use of a magnetic Pokémon ability. Again, a little on the whimsical side, but hey – we’re largely talking about cartoon characters, here. No harm in indulging a little, especially when it directly references a real-life toy.
Imagine variants of this thing with different styles of moustache to mimic the popular fashion among humans of the area. This is the kind of superfluous regional variant I want to see in this series.
And while Probopass is, perhaps, a not super-fun to use in the single-player game – she’s slow and bulky, which leads to some very drawn-out battles – she can make a fair wall to stall with while you frantically heal the rest of your team. Just, ah, don’t send her in against Fighting or Ground types.
So, Nosepass is clearly based on mo’ai stone statues (the Easter Island heads). Simple enough, and it fits in with Hoenn’s more ocean-heavy map. She even only appears on an island – albeit inside a cave rather than stood up on the beach. Plus, the evolved Probopass looks like a restored mo’ai statue, filling in the eyes and pukao hat that have been lost from most of the real-life statues.
But, in the way of all the best Pokémon designs, she’s added a little twist in that her nose supposedly gravitates to point north. The thing that immediately comes to mind there is the trick where you drop a magnetized needle into a cup of water, where the needle will slowly drift until it points toward compass-north. It even tracks with how Nosepass’ nose is electromagnetic – reflected handily in her part-Electric moveset, even if that doesn’t make a lot of sense bio-geo-logically. Then you pile on how her nose with its three ridges would look like a big red arrow from most angles, and everything really comes together.
And there’s a third bit here that all-too-easily flies right by. You know how most animals have a keen sense of direction and seem to know which direction is north? That’s attributed to a certain bone that’s – get this – right behind most animals’ nasal cavities. Birds are quite literally following their nose when they migrate for the season, and Nosepass references that, if only in part. Neat!
One last bit from the foreign naming corner: apparently “NOSE” is a mnemonic used by French learners to remember the cardinal directions. Nord, Ouest, Sud, Est. With all the other stuff jam-packed into this fella, it’s entirely possible that this is a coincidence, or it just happens to work because the mnemonic and Nosepass were already based on the same concept. But with how Nosepass are used in-universe by travelers to orient themselves, it’s also possible that the team managed to lump yet another meaning in with a living rock-face, and I’m here for it either way.
Hey, quick point of order: what do you call your direction on a map?
…I’ll see myself out.
A cute detail that it’d be criminal not to include: since Nosepass’ noses are magnetic, they physically can’t get too close to each other. If they try, they’ll be repelled such that they face in opposite directions. Poor things. Let’s ignore how deeply this complicates the process of creating new Nosepass, though.
The other tidbit the Pokédex gives us is that, like statues, they prefer not to move, drawing in metal prey (and rubble to use as cover) with their magnetic noses. What with supposedly staying still for years at a time, you get the impression that these things can easily outlive humans. Do inorganic Pokémon even age, for that matter? Or do they just weather down over the ages until they erode away entirely? Can they be repaired or re-build their shells?
No, you’re having an existential crisis.
So what happens when a stationary Nosepass is disturbed? It springs into action and drills straight down, burying itself. Aside from being funny to envision, this is another bit taken from real life; the mo’ai “heads” we think of are just that – heads. The original sculptures are three or four times that height, containing full bodies that have sunk into the ground over time. What with Nosepass not being a native Ground-type (and we already have plenty of Rock/Ground hybrids), noting that behavior even in passing feels like an Easter egg for those familiar with actual Easter Island statues.
Somebody on the writing must really be interested in that corner of anthropology, I guess.
Nosepass is painfully clever for such a simple design, and Probopass only makes her even goofier and more endearing. I don’t think they’re core to the series by any means, but they represent some of the series’ best design sensibilities, and I’d love to see them rotate in and out of the roster in Reserve.
Any and all appreciation for Nosepass and Probopass is welcome in the comments!