Leedmees preview: Like a bridge

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Leedmees preview: Like a bridge
Leedmees was a nice surprise in the Konami suite at Comic-Con this week -- we haven't posted about it yet at all, and while Fruit Ninja Kinect has gotten a lot of the press as the first downloadable Kinect title, this one looks like it might be the more original.

The game describes, during a dreamy little introduction, the player wandering into a secret magical door somewhere, where little white creatures (called Leedmees, presumably) march in step from one little spinning portal to another. Like the old Lemmings games, Leadmees mindlessly walk forward, and it's up to the player to make sure they get home safely.

But there's one important twist: In Lemmings, you controlled the little creatures, using their abilities to get through the environment. In Leedmees, you are the environment.Like many Kinect titles so far, the idea is tougher to explain than it is to actually do. You're represented as a stylized stick figure on the middle of the screen, and the Leedmees can walk across your limbs, so you can spread your arms out to create a bridge, across which the little creatures will hike. You can move and twist as they do it, too, so if they need to reach a platform above or below, you can have them walk onto an arm, and then lift it up to raise the creatures, getting them to their destination.

It's a wild concept, and the real magic of Leedmees is that it works about as perfectly as it can. The Leedmees will obey your arms and legs wherever they are, and you can even put a little physics into the game, jumping your arm up to toss them a short distance. Toss them too far (or crush them -- they're surprisingly fragile), and they'll disappear, subtracting from the total rescued in any given level.

There are also stars to collect, and each Leedmee can collect one star, so you have to guide each one first to the star and then home. You're given a rating based on how many you rescue and how many stars are collected, from F up to A and then S if you can clear everything perfectly.

There are three worlds with 10 stages each to play, all of varying difficulty. Spikes enter the mix at some point, so you'll find yourself not only creating bridges, but also playing protector at the same time. Some levels have a floor, and any creatures that fall down there will walk back and forth from side to side until either you step on them or you reach a hand down -- they'll jump up to it, though you can't actually grab and hold on to them.

And once you're done with the single-player game, there's a whole other set of stages for co-op multiplayer, with two different players working together to deliver Leedmees across the world. In one stage I played, the portals actually appeared in random spots on player's bodies, so my co-op partner had to help direct Leedmees to my head, or down to the bottom of her foot.

Leedmees is simple, but a lot of fun, and as a downloadable XBLA title, it seems like a great value. Konami is planning a release for September of this year.
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