Leedmees is one of those games where you use your full body as a means of input. It’s not one of those games where you just use your hands or arms, no, Leedmees takes your full body as the controller, including torso, head and legs! Because of this Leedmees is also a game that cannot be playing with anything but Kinect, and that makes it a quite unique experience! I played around with the game in both singleplayer and multiplayer and this is what I think of it! Enjoy!
A simple formula
The Leedmees formula is actually a quite simple one: Little creatures (the Leedmees) will spawn from a blue portal that is located somewhere in the level and have to be brought to a red portal located somewhere else in the level. Leedmees are not very smart though and can do only two things by themselves: They can walk straight forward and they will turn around if they hit a wall or the edge of the stage. It’s no surprise that our little Leedmees need a bit of help to reach that shiny red portal, and that’s where you come in!
You are represented by a big stick figure that is almost as tall as the stage itself. The Leedmees are tiny in comparison to you and this is good, because you’ll be presenting yourself as a big moveable platform for the Leedmees to walk on. This means that, in the most easy case, Leedmees will drop from the blue portal, you will catch then within your arms, you’ll bring them over to the red portal and drop them in. It’s as simple as that! But on the road from blue to red there are a few things that make things more interesting: First of all there are five stars scattered across the level. A Leedme can pick up a single star and when brought to the red portal will net you bonus points. Second of all the Leedmees are extremely fragile beings: Drop them from too high, throw them too far in the sky or squish them between your body and elements in the level and they will simply die.
The objective of the game is to get the required amount of leedmees save into the red portal, if you kill too many you will lose the level and have to try again. At the end of the level you’ll be rated and to the only way to get that ultimate “S” rating you’ll have to keep all the Leedmees alive and get all the stars. This is an objective that sounds far easier than it really is, mainly because of all the different elements of variation that the makers of Leedmees have put into the game…
Lots of variation
The world of Leedmees is a dangerous one, because as you progress through the 30 singleplayer levels and 12 multiplayer levels you’ll see a diversity of elements in the game that try to keep you from rescuing your Leedmees. The game starts simple with just platform that you might crush your Leedmees against, but as you get further you’ll encounter portals that move around or suddenly disappear to appear somewhere else. You’ll encounter spikes on walls, barriers that have to be moved out of the way (and slowly come back once pushed away), spears that periodically shoot down or up, ghosts that try to incapacitate you for a small time and even elements that will throw you completely off by switching your arms around.
Especially in the later levels things get extremely challenging: You’ll have to frantically multitask to keep all your Leedmees alive and have to consider a multitude of elements that all try to kill your tiny friends. Getting an “S” rating in one of the later levels seems impossible and I was having a hard time getting even a single Leedme to safety. The whole franticness of the game is pretty awesome though and if you finally manage to juggle all the elements of the game clearing a level is very rewarding. And then, when you think you’ve seen it all, you try multiplayer and find out that things can be even harder!
Super challenging multiplayer
When playing Leedmees in multiplayer things really get interesting: now there will be two giants in the game and each one can only move around one half of the stage. This means that when Leedmees have to go from one end to the other (and they always have to do this) they have to be transferred from player to player. And this posses a more difficult challenge than it seems because the chance of squashing Leedmees becomes are far bigger problem in multiplayer. Far too often my little creatures would become squashed between body parts of both players. Another far more occuring problem was that my partner would ‘slap the Leedmees out of my hand”, they would be walking on my arms when suddenly the hand of my partner would smack the Leedmees away, sending the flying and killing them in the progress. You’ll really need to communicate with your partner to make this work and that’s also what is interesting about this mode.
Things get super challenging fast though and especially when the game start swapping you body parts around (for example: player 1 has the left arm of giant 1 and the right arm of giant 2 while player 2 controls the other arms) things get a little bit too challenging for my taste. I was playing with my girlfriend and after a few tries at a more difficult level I seriously rage quit because I totally had it with our poor attempts at coordinating. This is also a serious problem with the game: you’ll love it at first but when things get hard I think it will get easy to start hating it (just like I started doing at some point). It also doesn’t help that is has a few tracking problems that make things more difficult than they should be…
Leedmees uses a pretty straightforward control system: you move you body and the in-game character moves accordingly. The tracking works pretty flawless, that is, if you stay in the center of the screen…I was getting major tracking problems when I either had to duck down or when I had to reach all the way to the left or right of the stage. What happens is that the tracking sometimes just has a bit of a hiccup: meaning that it stops and then resumes a split second later. This results in a very fast movement from your position when the tracking stopped to your current position which in turn will probably send some Leedmees flying. Another thing that happens is that the tracking just gets all messed up in the extremities of the stage. If have seen my giant in the weirdest position that a yoga master wouldn’t even be able to replicate. These problems are not so terrible in the earlier levels, but especially when things get harder or with multiplayer this will totally mess up the experience.
Leedmees is a very clever game with a simple premise that is executed in such a way that it stays interesting. Especially the multiplayer is a blast to play because you’ll really have to communicate and coordinate with your partner to make things work. Unfortunately the game is plagued with some tracking problems that make the already challenging levels a maddening experience that will drive you crazy. The game fortunately has a lot of content and if you want to clear every stage with a perfect rating you’ll be playing this game for hours to come. This game is for everyone that is looking for some fresh and challenging Kinect gameplay and even with the problems it has it is (mostly) a joy to play, in both singleplayer and multiplayer.
This review is based on a retail copy of the Xbox 360 version of Leedmees
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