E3 2011

E3: Leedmees

| 13 Jun 2011 15:20

Hidden away behind sports, dance and mini-game collections, Leedmees is a Kinect treasure waiting to be discovered.

Leedmees is a refreshingly clever Kinect game with a simple premise: You control a stick figure of God-like proportions that guides lemmings, who mindlessly walk forward, to a goal. Being that this is a game where you are the controller, moving your body is the only way to control your on-screen figure's body parts.

At the start, guiding the minions from their blue spawn portal to the red portal is a breeze. You stretch out your arms to provide a lengthy bridge, flex your muscles to create a wall and, if you are a crafty player, toss them by flicking your wrist. If you aren't quick enough to reach the little guys, they'll fall to their death like idiots. Being mindful of their spawn portal grows increasingly difficult, as the levels progress, so it becomes vital to stretch out your legs. Watching the lemmings grab onto your leg and hang on tight, during a last minute save, achieves levels of adorableness that words can do no justice.

Once you get the feel for how your body syncs with your on-screen avatar, the game opens up to new possibilities and challenges. Unlike other Kinect games, Leadmees encourages players to move out of place, shuffling to the right and left. Throughout the demo, I never had problems with the Kinect tracking. Later levels include platforms you need to punch, in order to temporarily move them out of the lemmings' path. There are also switches you need to hit, ghosts you need to swipe away (or else be temporarily stunned), and other clever obstacles that appear level-by-level.

Co-op mode is where Leedmees shines. By teaming up with a partner, you can play the game's Multiplay stages that require a higher level of reaction skills and strategic play. The first co-op level featured a randomly spawning blue portal and a red portal, which would always come attached to a player's body part. Having one player holding an awkward pose, as the minions walk across, is tricky enough. Adding on a second player, whose head is the end goal, makes for absolute chaos and a great time. The second co-op stage featured a stand-up version of Twister, where both players must hold body parts on flashing switches and the other touching the other player's on-screen hand.

With 50 single-player and 12 co-op stages, Leadmees will make for a welcome diversion between Shooter McShooter and The Shootening 3 when it comes to Xbox Live Arcade later this summer. With more games like this, I would pick up the Kinect in a heartbeat.

Leadmees needs no "for a Kinect game"-qualifier. It's one of the best games at E3, period. The small amount of stages is disappointing, but I can already tell I'll enjoy every minute while it lasts.

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