The premise of the Stinky Footboard is simple: Sometimes two hands and 10 fingers aren’t enough. And in games that require you to press more keys than a world-class pianist, your foot can come in handy.
At least it’s not called the Cyber Athlete’s Foot.
That’s the idea behind Stinky’s deadly simple Footboard. The USB device is akin to a four-way, foot-operated D-pad. We had concerns about the durability of the Footboard, but cracking open our review model revealed the D-pad balanced on a heavy-duty ball-bearing and a metal bar running across the length of it. The switches themselves are Cherry MX blue. The unit connects to the USB cable via a standard Micro-USB port, so you can swap cables if need be. Four independent springs can be swapped out to change the spring rate from a selection of soft, medium, and hard. Though sturdy, we have to note that our early unit did fail and would no longer be recognized by any system, despite cable swaps. We finished our review with a second unit borrowed from another magazine.
Setting up the Footboard is quick, after you’ve downloaded the app. The Footboard app lets users create keybindings—or should we say foot bindings—for each of the controller’s four switches (up, down, left, and right) and install firmware updates. The app works fairly well, but we couldn’t bind more than one key to a direction. For example, we wanted to bind one switch to let us run in Battlefield 3—Shift + W—but the Footboard wouldn’t record the macro. It was either W or Shift, but not both. It’s too bad because such a feature would take the finger stress out of those long runs across a map.
The Footboard’s internals are built for the long run.
Battlefield 3 wasn’t the only game we used the Footboard in. We also ran it through Dishonored and Sleeping Dogs, among other games, but we admit we found it most useful for BF3, where it aided movement and crouching. And when running, it really relieved us of the pinky stress that results from having to curl back and hit Ctrl all the time to duck.
Unfortunately for the Stinky, there are some styles of games that just don’t work very well with the device. When we tried using the Stinky in Dishonored, we found it wasn’t very helpful. Dishonored is a slow, stealthy game that focuses on using just the WASD keys and mouse, so we couldn’t find much use for the Footboard, as the game doesn’t rely much on running. We tried to map the Footboard to the WASD keys but it was just awkward. We also couldn’t use the Stinky for strafing since we couldn’t bind more than one key.
Another game that didn’t play very well with the Stinky was StarCraft II. The mouse and keyboard were just too good and we abandoned using the Footboard halfway through. Again, the Footboard seemed cumbersome in this scenario and our keybindings felt very forced and unneeded, as a traditional keyboard setup was easier for us. There are obviously games where the Stinky works—such as a tactical shooter, where you might bind the left and right directions for lean out (who can ever remember those commands?) but it’s not the universal salve we thought it might be.
The Stinky has a good build quality and easy-to-use software, which makes it a reliable gaming accessory. What we’re not fans of is the Footboard’s premium price: $120. Probably the only way to tell if your gaming style will benefit from the Footboard is if you sometimes wish you had an extra hand—or foot—during sessions.