Instead of attempting to make a better mouse, Stelulu decided to make a different gaming peripheral altogether. The Stinky Footboard PC Foot Controller is a large footpad that lets gamers map commands to four corresponding switches. Launching in June, this $119 device provides an easy way to access secondary commands instead of fumbling with a 20-button mouse. Stelulu promises enhanced play with faster commands, but are gamers ready to open their hearts (and wallets) to another peripheral?
The Footboard isn't the flashiest peripheral we've seen, but it's plenty sturdy. A 12.25 x 7-inch sheet of brushed aluminum occupies the center of the board, held in place with eight medium-size screws. Orange triangular lights reside at the north and south poles of the pad. A thick black heavy-duty plastic border surrounds the footpad, tapering off along the sides to create some interesting angles.
The bottom of the device is also made of heavy-duty plastic. Eight raised feet sit along the bottom to prevent slippage on hardwood or linoleum floors. An odd-shaped depression along the left side holds a microUSB port and a red status light, and narrows along the edge to house the included 6-foot microUSB cord. The bottom panel also has four removable screws, called T-boxes, for users to swap out the interchangeable springs and adjust the tension.
Weighing 3.6 pounds and measuring 14.5 x 10.75 x 0.8 inches, the Footboard is portable, but we don't foresee many gamers taking this device on the road. However, we appreciate that this accessory accommodated our rather large size-12 women's feet.
Users operate the Stinky Footboard via a set of spring-loaded switches. The front and back switches have medium-tension springs while the right and left switches are outfitted with soft springs.
Feedback from the default front and back springs delivered firm, bouncy feedback. By comparison, the soft springs in the left or right panels felt mushy. In fact, we ended up swapping out the soft springs for the alternate hard springs. When the product ships, it will feature six spare springs (two soft, two medium and two hard) and a 3MM Allen Key to remove the screws.
When we plugged the Stinky Footboard into the Maingear Nomad 17 gaming notebook, its accompanying software took about 10-15 seconds to install. Similar to a gaming mouse, the Footboard's control panel enabled us to map keystrokes to the four points on the board. You can also program secondary functions that are activated by pressing the left Shift key on a keyboard. In addition to Windows 8, the Footboard is also compatible with Windows 7, Vista and XP.
We were also able to create a profile for productivity applications such as Microsoft Word and Adobe Photoshop. Instead of gaming commands, we mapped shortcuts to the switches.
Since the Footboard doesn't have any on-board memory, it can store only one profile at a time. However, the software can support unlimited profiles. We love the auto-profile switching feature that allowed us to switch between apps or games. The software is limited to supporting up to eight apps or games at a time at this time, but Stelulu plans to support a greater number of profiles in the future.
For our test of the Stinky Footboard, we played "Borderlands 2." For its solo test, we configured the top panel of the board to shoot and the bottom panel to reload. The left panel became our interact button, while the right panel launched our Mechromancer's Deathtrap ability.
We also paired the Footboard with the 20-button Logitech G600 MMO Gaming Mouse. For this test, we placed the Footboard in more of a support role, switching out our four available weapon slots. The G600 took care of most of the heavy lifting, including aiming, shooting, lobbing grenades and interacting with the environment.
Gameplay was smooth, but we couldn't reasonably use the back buttons in a high-pressure situation. We ended up assigning the Footboard all of our open weapon slots so we could quickly cycle from an assault rifle to a shotgun or SMG. Ultimately, the combination of the top six buttons on the G600's side panel in conjunction with the Footboard made for the best game experience. This pairing allowed for a quicker reaction time and provided access to more commands.
It took about 20 minutes to adjust to using the Footboard. Once we got our gaming legs, the Footboard became a natural extension of our body. The peripheral delivered swift response, which came in handy for battles where twitchy reflexes win the day. We experienced the best results when our bare foot was positioned in the center of the device and leaned our foot on the corresponding panel.
We especially appreciated the sturdy design when we started stomping the board like mad trying to fend off a pack of enraged Bullymongs.
Although we used a FPS title, the Stinky Footboard can be used with a number of genres, including RTS and MMORPG.
As a complementary peripheral, the $119 Stelulu Stinky Footboard PC Foot Controller is a nice addition to the traditional PC mouse and keyboard setup. The software is easy to install, and we like the option of unlimited profiles. However, the learning curve can be a little steep for something that can be accomplished with one of the better gaming mice on the market. Odoriferous moniker aside, the Stinky Footboard PC Foot Controller is a helpful gaming peripheral that can take your game to the next level.