"It’s a somewhat ridiculous premise that works surprisingly well. But gaming with your feet can’t feel right, can it?"
It seems strange to imagine playing video games with the aid of your feet. After all, most of us have grown up with gamepads in our hands and even the transition to motion controls didn’t go too well with some gamers. At the end of the day, the classic gamepad and keyboard/mouse combo continue to be the preferred tool for gaming. Now picture a device that doesn’t replace your current control setup, but instead enhances it by providing more accessibility and flexibility. This is where the whimsically named Stinky Footboard comes into place. It’s a slickly designed foot pedal that can be used to replace up to four buttons/commands to complement the conventional gaming experience.
It’s a somewhat ridiculous premise that works surprisingly well. But gaming with your feet can’t feel right, can it? Think of it this way, most of us drive on a daily basis and we use our feet instinctively without even thinking about it. In one way or another, everyone exercises their foot reflexes every day. There’s a slight learning curve, or rather an adjustment period, but using your feet for additional gameplay support feels surprisingly natural. If you’re a hardcore gamer and want to expand your gameplay possibilities, the Stinky foot controller is a truly unique invention that deserves your attention.
Slick, Sturdy Design
The Stinky Footboard is quite small. It’s slightly larger than your average sneaker and only uses one USB cable to plug into the computer. A thick, matte, black base slickly frames its silvery metal plate and looks really great next to a gaming setup. It feels light, but has enough weight to stay in place during intense gaming sessions. The USB chord plugs into a slot at the bottom of the pad and even has a narrow crevice for the cable so the base can sit flat on the floor. The design is quite impressive and takes up very little space, especially since you can easily slide it to the side when not in use.
Super Easy Setup
Installing the Stinky Footboard is as easy as plugging in a gamepad. Your PC automatically detects the hardware and all you need to do is download the software from the official site. It takes mere seconds before you’re ready to jump into action. As you can see in the screenshot below, each numbered sector of the board can be programmed to match the desired keys on a keyboard. You can also select various actions for each quadrant based on your gameplay preferences. Normal refers to a typical keyboard press, Key Down acts as a single down/up press, Pulse performs rapid keystrokes, and Unbound leaves the area unused. I found myself going back to the Normal setting, as it was the most useful for regular gaming. Once you have a satisfactory set-up you can create a profile that makes switching between various titles a breeze. Keep in mind that programming the key presses works for both the keyboard and gamepad. Whatever gamepad actions are equivalent to the keyboard keys, you use those keys to program the Stinky Footboard.
Stinky in Action
The Stinky Footboard can be used with one or both feet and rotates vertically and horizontally to suit your comfort level. It takes some time to adjust using both feet and I found myself switching back to my left foot as it felt more natural. Additionally, you can adjust the screws on the bottom of the base to tighten or loosen the pressure sensitivity and Stinky even comes with additional springs to accommodate different tensions.
Dozens of games from each genre were used for testing and the results were quite pleasing. Our first round consisted of several FPS titles, like Metro 2033, Dead Island, Bioshock Infinite, Crysis, Portal 2, and several others. Pushing forward was mapped for running, back/down for crouching, left for throwing grenades/secondary weapons, and right for switching weapons.
"I couldn’t use the Stinky Footboard in combination with my Xbox 360 gamepad, although it worked just fine when using the keyboard."
The running and crouching commands felt extremely responsive and provided unprecedented aid during fast paced gaming. However, tapping left and right for weapon switching and grenade throwing was a little more challenging. I found myself instinctively using my hands for the secondary commands and couldn’t help but pause for a second when trying to tap left/right with my feet. Ultimately, the forward and backward actions proved to be more efficient and I ended up disabling the other two quadrants. Everything ran flawlessly except Dead Island. I couldn’t use the Stinky Footboard in combination with my Xbox 360 gamepad, although it worked just fine when using the keyboard. But this isn’t really a major issue as hiccups like these are easily fixed with future driver updates.
The second round of tests focused on driving games. Grid, Dirt, Need For Speed, you name it. We tried mapping a combination of functions, forward for gas, back for break/reverse, and left and right for either switching camera angles or looking back. Driving was much harder to control as the accelerator/break combo couldn’t provide the same pressure precision as a gamepad or steering wheel. However, using the secondary commands for switching camera angles and looking behind the car worked beautifully.
"Mapping potion and magic actions to various quadrants was exhilarating and provided a much more immersive gameplay experience."
The ultimate test was with RPG and Strategy games. This is where the Stinky Footboard dominated. Games that rely on complex key-layouts benefited extraordinarily from the foot controls. A few rounds with Xcom: Enemy Unknown while using the Stinky Footboard and I couldn’t imagine going back to my regular method of gaming. Being able to switch characters on the fly while tapping my feet felt absolutely amazing. Playing Dragon Age with the Footboard felt like playing an entirely different game. Mapping potion and magic actions to various quadrants was exhilarating and provided a much more immersive gameplay experience. Any title that relied on inventory management worked flawlessly with the Stinky Footboard and veteran MMO players will immediately fall in love with the extra support it provides.
The Stinky Footboard is a revolutionary product. Don’t be fooled by its silly name and odd premise, this could very well define the future of hardcore PC gaming. While the 120$ price tag seems like a hefty investment, it’s as essential to a true gameplay experience as a keyboard or gamepad. If you pledge 89$ on the Developers’ Kickstarter page, they’ll reward you with a complete Stinky package, so check out their page for more details. After spending a week with the Stinky foot controller and testing it on a plethora of different titles, it’s hard to imagine going back to just using my hands for gaming. A truly unique invention!
Review by: Tin Salamunic