My very first thought upon being introduced to the Stinky Footboard was: Why? Is this really necessary? I play games just fine with my controller, racing wheel, or mouse/keyboard; do we really need to bring my feet into this?
After playing a bunch of games with Stinky, “Why?” became “Why not?” Why not add a few extra means of input? Why not give myself a way to toss grenades without having to look for the “G” key? In Diablo III, why not have a way to attack without moving without having to ever touch the keyboard, or use different spells and attacks without ever having to use my other hand? Why not map everything to my feet, which aren’t doing anything anyway when I’m gaming?
The thing about the Stinky is that if you never use it, you’ll never know how useful it can be. It certainly does not fall under the category of a “necessity” when it comes to gaming, and you move on with your life just fine without ever having touched it. In fact, you may look at such a device and scoff, wondering why you would ever need such a thing when people have been gaming for decades just fine without it.
The Stinky Footboard measures approximately 2 feet in width and a foot and a half in height. It has a nice, flat surface that, other than the four “buttons” under each of the four edges, provides a nice surface to rest your feet on. Once it’s plugged in and set up under your feet, you’ll never even know it’s there. Using each of the buttons is as easy as “leaning” your feet to each of the edges, where you’ll feel a satisfying “click” as you press down.
As someone who has been PC gaming since I had an old 386 IBM, I never really felt that a keyboard/mouse setup was a pain in the butt. I mean yes, there are often too many button inputs to where I am forced to look away from the screen to make sure that I’m hitting the correct button, but for the most part, this is what I have been used to for so many years.
With that being said, it’s tremendously awesome to map some of the harder to reach key presses to the Stinky. When playing first person shooters, for instance, I often hit the wrong button when trying to toss a grenade (typically “G”). The Action key (“E” or “F”) generally makes me look away from the screen as well. Again, it’s not the end of the world; after all, I’ve been doing it forever, but man…simply stepping down to toss a grenade? Pure bliss. Mapping the “sprint” button to one of the Stinky’s buttons is also pretty cool. It’s not like I’m actually getting up and running around obviously, but hey…sprinting in real life = legs, stepping on my Stinky = legs. Right? And mapping melee attack to the Stinky? Thumbs up.
One genre that doesn’t actually work as well as I had hoped is racing games. Because the Stinky’s buttons are not analog, there’s really no way to use them as the accelerator/brakes. I used the Stinky mostly to change the camera, and once I tried using it as a clutch pedal in GTR. It worked fine, but again, the lack of give kinda threw me off.
Diablo III is where I got the most use out of the Stinky. I mapped the bottom edge to the “attack without moving” command, the left and right edges to some widely used spells, and the top edge to health potions. It was awesome; I never even had to use the keyboard. I just leaned back in my chair, nice and comfy, and played using only my mouse and the occasional foot stomp.
Speaking of foot stomps, the Stinky Footboard is a pretty beefy device. As with any electronic peripheral, even ones that are made to take a beating, I tend to be pretty gentle with them. As most of you know, however, when the fit hits the shan during a particularly intense gaming session, we gamers tends to get pretty violent. Our controllers usually bear the brunt of our over-zealousness. Obviously, I haven’t had the Stinky for an extended period of time where it has undergone years and years of abuse, but the short amount of time I have had with it, and the abuse I have put it through so far have been pretty impressive. This device has a very high quality build, and it’s not likely to break anytime soon.
Finally, the Stinky Footboard just looks nice. It’s clean, simple, and has a stainless steel surface with a black border surrounding it on all sides. On the bottom you can use the included allen wrench to adjust the “springiness” of the edges, or replace them will a number of different springs that comes with the device. It’s nice to know that you have options to tweak the device to whatever works most comfortably for each individual.
The only real criticism I have for Stinky is the price ($120) coupled with what I mentioned at the beginning of the review; it’s not a necessity. It’s one thing to pay that kind of money for a good headset or gaming keyboard/mouse, but it’s a whole other story for something like the Stinky. I’m, not going to lie, I love having the Stinky Footboard around and will use it as much as I can. It definitely makes a lot of games easier to use, but it’s not the sort of thing where I will be sitting around playing Diablo III thinking to myself “Man, I really wish I had a way to map some of these commands to a foot controller…”
I can compare it to having a GPS device in your car. For decades, people went from Point A to Point B just fine with using a map, and even today, you’d be hard pressed to find a smartphone without some sort of navigation function built in. I never see myself needing a standalone GPS in my car, but anyone I ask who owns one swears by them. Regardless of having navigation on their phones or using a traditional map, those I know that use a GPS system love it and will continue to use it. The same goes for the Stinky. It’s awesome to have, and works brilliantly; it’s just not something you need.