iPhone Art: PC Dr. Momo
Project Momo have broken their first ground in the App Store with PC Dr. Momo. That is not ‘PC’ Politically Correct’ or President’s Choice’. It probably stands for PeeCee or PC or Personal Computer. Dr., meanwhile is probably short for doctor – and momo? I should have asked. Anyway, PC Dr. Momo rides a fine line between dross and distinction. It is not a game nor is it really a reader app. It is a reading app tech demo with the potential that could launch a genre. However, it has a long long way to go before it reaches the popularity it needs to pull the purse strings of App Store shoppers.
Unlike Stanza or eReader, PC Dr. Momo does not support downloadable content. Rather, it is more in tune with the fixed-content style of Classics, relying on presentation and interactivity rather than masses of content.
Project Momo’s description from iTunes:
-MANGA+Animation = MANGAnimation, the first ever application for the iPhone/iPod touch!
-This is an original fantasy comic created using special techniques unique to iPhone/iPod touch. A browser is not used for viewing.
-Please read in landscape-oriented screen with tapping. Every time you tap, a new scene or new balloon pops up.
PC Dr. Momo is a story that reaches way back to Christmas 2008. There, Dr. Momo, the cute heroine, finds, fixed and befriends an iMac like computer. Surprise surprise, it comes alive and… the rest is up to you to discover. Since PC Dr. Momo is essentially an interactive fiction/manga, this article will do its best to sidestep spoilers. Suffice to say, it is hard not to enjoy the playful and at times, deep characters.
PC Dr. Momo is not a cheap computer-graphics novel. The images are hand-painted and beautiful and intertwined with thoughtful thought and chat bubbles. PC Dr. Momo is one of the the most well-designed apps on the iPhone from a purely aesthetic perspective.
What is Not So Pretty
Unfortunately, PC Dr. Momo offers so little else to distinguish itself in the App Store. For instance, its controls and navigation system is an archaic study in how not to programme interfaces. From the title screen, you have only the option to choose either the American or Japanese language. Once committed, like a roller-coaster, there is no stopping. Every scene, every conversation and every movement is activated by a touch. Any touch. There are no special iPhone swipes nor uses of the accelerometer. You cannot save your reading progress nor can you go back. I was surprised after reading through the features list and expectant of something ‘unique’ –
fantasy comic created using special techniques unique to iPhone/iPod touch
only to find out that the special techniques are the aforementioned finger nudges. That said, Project Momo offer the option for language buffs or those studying Japanese to read a native comic. Though not enough to bone up for the JPLT, it will help you get an idea of the differences that exist between English (sorry, American) and Japanese. It also unfortunately shows you what good a little bit of editing can do to any written project, or when unused, how language can become unintelligible. PC Dr. Momo was translated and edited completely by the authors and showcases their great understanding of the English language; I commend their efforts. But, if Project Momo want a larger audience within the English-speaking world, they should probably get some assistance from a native speaker for subsequent additions to the App Store.
So what is there to be excited about?
In its current state, PC Dr. Momo is not worth 1.99$ despite featuring lovely hand-drawn scenes and cute characters. However, it will be woth it. The platform only needs a few usability tweaks so that users can save reading progress and navigate logically forward AND backward. Accelerometer functions are also welcome but not needed. PC Dr. Momo, I believe is the first installation of what will become a very good story that showcases deep yet light-hearted plots and is garnished by fantastic artwork. But what could really launch their carrier as a publisher? Licensing.
I can imagine many would-be artists and story tellers would love their creations to be featured in the App Store but have not the programming know-how nor the staff to produce their own App Store entries. Project Momo have that platform.I hope that they are able to capitalise on what I think is a great opportunity.
Project Momo, PC Dr. Momo, 1.99$
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