The danger in mixing a tried-and-true game type with motion controls is that you could be left wishing for a traditional controller. Not so with Leedmees, a Lemmings-like game that requires you to usher simple creatures, called Leedmees, from one area to another. The Leedmees are on autopilot, forever marching forward into peril. It's your job, as a giant spindly stick person, to use your body to carry, push, shove, and protect these fragile creatures on their way to the goal. This game puts your Kinect through its paces, and when it works, it's mostly fun. You won't wish for a controller while you play, but you might be wishing for a break, or stronger muscles.
Besides the obvious "your body is the controller" twist, Leedmees throws in a number of other challenges that make this more than just another Lemmings-style puzzle game. Every level has a time limit, usually no more than a couple of minutes, so the pace is much faster than what the methodical march of the Leedmees implies. Each level is sprinkled with bonus stars that you can have the Leedmees collect to earn you a higher performance ranking. There are environmental dangers too, like spikes, ghosts, button-activated platforms, and more. New challenges and gameplay twists are introduced every couple of levels; a late-game twist that switches your gestures to mirrored movement is especially devilish. After 40 or more levels with regular movement, something as simple as a mirrored switch can completely melt your mind.
The time limit, plus the never-ending march of the Leedmees, adds a sense of urgency to each level that works both for and against the game. On the plus side, you blow through levels quickly, and you're constantly scooping, hopping, and leaning to transport Leedmees--you rarely hold a pose longer than a few seconds. Because challenges come at you fast and frequently, you don't get the "this is starting to get old" feeling that you get with many motion-based games. On the downside, some levels have you moving too fast, and the Leedmees are exceptionally fragile. A quick arm swing can send them flying to their deaths, and a misplaced foot could result in LeedMee homicide. The threshold for level completion is generous--you need to save only half of the Leedmees to pass--but hitting that threshold on some of the later levels can be a pain, literally.
The relentless pace is fun for a while, but things start to break down when you need to make precise moves. Broad gestures, like spreading your arms to make a lazy bridge, or holding your hands up to create an impromptu transport cage, work great. But some challenges, particularly the levels that require you to hold down buttons, create more frustration than fun. Watching your Leedmees march to their deaths because the game failed to pick up your subtle movement can be infuriating, especially when your muscles are attempting to revolt against the unnatural contortion you're forcing them into. The further you get, the more you feel like you and the game are just barely keeping up with each other. The sense of accomplishment you feel when beating the early levels is replaced with a feeling of relief by the end.
Getting past the completion threshold for the 50 single-player levels can be done in two or three hours. The extremely flexible and overly patient can stretch this out longer, since most of the achievements are locked behind "S" Rank requirements. The co-op multiplayer is fun for a few levels but is ultimately too sloppy to play for long. You're often forced to stand very close to, or touch, your co-op partner. The Kinect isn't so hot at determining whose limb is whose when all it can see is one amorphous blob. The dreamy art style and generic music are bland, but at least the characters, obstacles, and enemies are all easily identifiable, which is helpful later in the game when you're keeping mental tabs on way too many things at once.
Leedmees is a game that's good for casual play; attempting 100 percent completion in this game is a great way to make you hate it. Using your body to solve puzzles can be fun, but pulling a muscle because you're trying to get that last impossible star is not. Leedmees sports the same $10 price tag as other Kinect games available on Xbox Live, while offering a decent amount of content and replay value. It's worth a look if you want unique Kinect content that doesn't involve minigames.