Leedmees is one of those fantastic ideas that somehow justifies Kinect and confounds it all at the same time. Playing like a bizarre cross between Twister and Lemmings, you are required to manipulate your body, which is represented on screen as a spindly giant, in order to safely navigate the decidedly gormless Leedmees from one end of a level to the next. It’s a simplistic concept, but one that, when everything falls into place, stands as one of the more unique and enjoyable games currently available for Microsoft’s Kinect device. When things go wrong though, which tends to happen when you are required to make more subtle movements later in the game, Leedmees can prove an extremely infuriating experience. Problem is, like many Kinect games before it, it’s hard to tell if the fault lies at Konami’s development door or is simply an inherent lack of accuracy in the Kinect technology. Either way, Leedmees never quite lives up to its potential.
Saying that though, played under the right circumstances, Leedmees is still a huge amount of fun. Twisting and contorting your body as you carefully navigate your precious Leedmees across each brilliantly designed level, throwing them over troublesome obstacles as you swat away enemies, flick switches and pick up gold stars, it’s amazing how involved you actually become. More than perhaps any Kinect release before it, Leedmees epitomises the concept of using your body as a controller. Some levels only require minor movements, but when things get hairy and you have Leedmees taking unplanned strolls into the unknown, you can quickly find yourself in some pretty interesting positions.
When using your body in broad movements, Leedmees feels and plays like the game it was intended to be. The problems arise later in the game as the difficulty ramps up and you’re required to make subtle movements to keep the Leedmees alive. While the 50% survival rate required for progression does make errors more bearable, if you’re going for the coveted ‘S Ranking’, expect to be hugely infuriated on more than one occasion. From throwing them mercilessly to the floor to accidentally flinging them at walls and crushing them as you attempt to gently pick them up, there really is no end to the ways that you can accidentally kill these little guys.
With the single player campaign taking a little over three hours and rank-chasing one for the masochists only, it’s down to the game’s co-op to add a little longevity. While the technical hiccups that mar the single player experience are arguably accentuated with two players sharing the screen, it’s the more carefree nature of co-op play that really suits Leedmees full body gameplay. By approaching it in short burst (you’d have to, it’s bloody knackering), Leedmees is a lot more enjoyable when you’re not worrying about scores and you can laugh at the accidental deaths and the stupid pose you’ve just been forced into with the friend playing next to you. Here, Leedmees shines. As a social experience, Leedmees is as much fun as Twister, and with many of the co-op challenges requiring you and your co-op buddy to take on some rather fascinating posese for success, it’s often as much fun to watch as it is to play.
Rounding off this brilliant, if technically flawed package, is the game’s fantastically whimsical visual design and consistently brilliant audio. It never push your 360 too hard, but this is an experience easy on both the ears and the eyes.
Leedmees could have been a truly standout title on Kinect but thanks to some technical niggles, it can’t be considered the classic it had the potential to be. Playing it with leaderboards and ranks in mind can only lead to frustration, but with a few friends in tow and a more carefree attitude, Leedmees can prove as enjoyable an experience as anything else currently available for Kinect.
REVIEW CODE: A complimentary Microsoft Xbox 360 code was provided to Bonus Stage for this review. Please send all review code enquiries to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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