E3 2011: Leedmees hands-on preview

One great game that has perhaps been a little unrecognised with the foray of huge announcements from the likes of Halo 4 or FarCry 3 is a lovely little XBLA Kinect title called Leedmees which was announced at the show.

When playing or seeing Leedmees it's easiest to find a likeness between it and Lemmings, which sadly hasn't seen much in the way of a proper release since the original. Perhaps Leedmees can fill up the hole that Lemmings has left behind?

Leedmees (working title) is a mysterious little game with little announced on the actual premise of the game, you play a large human shaped-what I could only describe as Tiki-like being-who is helping innocent Leedmees from A to B. Similar to Lemmings as the Leedmees can't simply get from A to B by walking, there may be spikes in the way, bouncy balls, a dangerous drop or perhaps a block in the way, they need a helping hand. You as their helper will need to pick them up, toss them about and save them from danger. Do what you need to save them, however you will need to make sure to handle them gently as they are fragile little creatures that can die should you be a little too violent.

With less of a strategic element when comparing it to Lemmings the Leedmees seem pretty dumb and can only walk, unlike the Lemmings who can of course pull out umbrellas, dig holes or climb up the sides of obstacles. Lemmings thrives off those quick split-second decisions that are required to play the game well, as one incorrect click could turn the game sour.

Ultimately Leedmees is a puzzle game; you are given set goals which include a time limit and the required number of Leedmees you will need to save to finish the level. The demo of course only featured a handful, however it has been announced that there are set to be 50 single player and 12 co-op levels for you to enjoy. Whether in the later levels the Leedmees evolve at all to carry certain traits is yet to be known, but it would be a nice addition, as well as healthy change in difficulty for the game.

The levels we sampled featured a variety of mechanics which were required to be manipulated in order to accomplish the goals. In the available levels this ranged from shooing away scary ghosts, pushing back spring-loaded platforms or avoiding bouncy balls. There was also a really interesting level which on a timer would reverse the whole level around, making left right, and right left. Even though I understood what was going on, I kept going wrong and found it immensely difficult, but then lots of fun while being really challenging.

Although the two player mode was the most enjoyable giving you the chance to play two levels, the first of which putting the red entry portal on one player and the blue exit on another. The portal could be anywhere including from your head, foot or crotch which made for hilarious situations of Charlotte grabbing my foot so we could help the Leedmees across to safety.

The success of Leedmees and its likeness to Lemmings may be derived from a similar methodology which Lemmings critically excels in. Instead of quick twitch button presses to get those Lemmings doing just what you want. Leedmees trades that twitch gameplay with quick but gentle body movements in order to successfully save these little creatures. From playing multiple times you get a feel for this, however features like the level reverse then spin what you get comfortable with around. That's as far as the complexity currently goes though, so I've got my fingers crossed for different character types such as faster Leedmees.

Set for release on Xbox Live Arcade Leedmees should be out this Summer/Autumn for a price point between 800-1200 MS Points. However don't forget you will need Kinect, plus I recommend a lot of room in your living room. We only hope Konami release a more solid date for when Leedmees is set for release as it is a definite purchase for me.