Are you ready to get Stinky? I wasn’t sure what I was getting myself into when I agreed to review the Stinky gaming footboard by Stelulu. I must’ve missed their successful Kickstarter campaign last year, so I had to do a bit of research while I was waiting for my review unit to arrive. The Stinky is a USB foot controller for PC – console models may be available in the future. It currently allows any keystroke from the keyboard to be bound to one of four Cherry MX switches on the footboard. I play a lot of PC games, and have feet, so I waited patiently for my Stinky to arrive.
They say that first impressions are important, and my first impressions of Stinky were quite good. When I first opened the Stinky box, I noticed an odor, though not a bad one. It honestly smelled as though I was opening a leather satchel, though I’m pretty confident that Stinky’s construction is mostly aluminum and hard plastic. After I was done being impressed by the smell of the box, I was immediately struck by the size of the board. I’ve got big feet but the Stinky has plenty room to spare on all sides. It’s a welcome change to find something where my foot actually fits comfortably, though it’s possible that this could cause some problems with one-foot operation for those with smaller feet.
I was also definitely impressed by the build quality of Stinky. The aluminum and hard plastic that I mentioned earlier give the board a good hefty feel. It’s a bit heavier than I expected it would be, but it stands to reason that a peripheral meant to be stepped on should be tough. Stinky has a video – embedded below – of the board getting run over by a truck. I didn’t need to resort to those tactics to feel the quality of construction of Stinky.
Setting up Stinky is also very easy. The Stinky driver software is available for download at stinkyboard.com/support. Once the software is installed, simply plug in the mini-USB to USB cable into the Stinky and your PC, and the software will recognize the device. From there, you just click on the four numbered zones on the setup screen, and then press the keyboard button that should be bound to that button. You can further augment each button by applying different actions, including Normal, Key Down, Pulse, and Unbound. You can choose the Clicks per Second repeat rate for Pulse, which in some ways might feel like a cheat. Once you’ve assigned your desired buttons – Stinky actually recommends starting slow, using 2 buttons at first – you can save the configuration to the board for quick use, or save the configuration to it’s own profile.
Saving directly to the board works well in a pinch for a quick round of gaming or app use. Since any keyboard button can be bound to the Stinky, you can use the pedal for web browsing, word processing, etc. if you so choose. For example, I set up a simple configuration for web browsing with Page Up, Page Down, and back. Stinky does not currently allow for macros, or multiple keys bound to one button, so some of my most-used keyboard shortcuts – Ctrl+T and Ctrl+Shift+T – would require 2 or 3 buttons to work. At that point it’s probably easiest just to use the keyboard.
Using your foot definitely takes getting used to. The action of all of the buttons is smooth and I found the default configuration to be comfortable; though if you find the movement too hard or too easy, Stinky comes with additional springs for the switches to suit your needs. I started off slowly as Stinky recommended and used the forward button for reload, and back for crouch on some First Person Shooters. I eventually expanded to use left/right for previous/next weapon. Initially I found myself straying back to the keyboard, as that’s how I’m accustomed to playing. I had to make a conscious effort to use the footboard, and I found myself getting killed a bit more because of it. After a few rounds it started getting easier, so there’s definitely a learning curve.
For a change of pace I set my buttons for inventory, crafting, quests, and jump and fired up Starbound. I probably should have started here, because it seems to make for an easier transition by binding lesser used functions. This allows you to really get comfortable with the rocking motion.
I’ve done all of my testing with Stinky barefoot as it seemed that would offer the best tactile experience. Many – though not all – of the videos I’ve seen of Stinky in use show the user either barefoot, or wearing only socks so it seems that I’m not alone in that belief. One minor complaint (which can likely be explained by testing in the middle of the stupid polar vortex) is that the aluminum top on Stinky can get very cold. I’m sure a sock would remedy this issue.
I did find during testing that front and back motions were always quite a lot easier than side-to-side. If your foot is even slightly off-center, the side clicks can become more cumbersome. Granted, you can always pick up your foot and tap/step/stomp on the side buttons of the foot board (this thing can handle a truck, after all) but especially in fast-paced games there’s a definite speed advantage in keeping your foot on the pedal. It might be beneficial if there were some kind of small bump, or ridge somewhere at the center of the board to designate a “home” position.
So what is the final verdict? Stinky is a rock-solid, super-responsive, easy to use addition to your PC gaming arsenal. There’s a definite learning curve, but once you’ve gotten accustomed to using your feet, Stinky can absolutely improve your gaming. There are a few minor nagging points that keep Stinky from walking away with a perfect score, but I’d say that it’s earned a very solid 4 out of 5 stars.
Stinky can be ordered at the Official Stinky Website
or at Amazon here
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