I can only imagine that sometime in late 2007 or early 2008, the folks on the NYKO Research and Development team were huddled around a table looking at the original Rock Band drum pedal and listening intently to a conversation from their product manager that probably went something like this:
"The official Rock Band drum pedal, a plastic pedal. A pedal susceptible to abuse. Gentlemen, we can rebuild it. We have the technology. We have the capability to build the world's first bionic drum pedal. The NYKO Metal Pedal will be that pedal. Better than it was before. Better, stronger, faster and more bad-ass."
While the output of that conversation didn’t give us the Six Million Dollar Pedal, the NYKO Metal Pedal is one of the best third party band game accessories I have added to my gaming equipment since I bought my first Rock Band kit.
When you first see the Metal Pedal in its packaging, you can tell right away that this is a different animal. The pedal comes packaged in a faux coffin box, complete with gold-scripted lettering and a p*ssed-off looking skull staring back at you. Inside the box are the Metal Pedal, instruction booklets, and a splitter that allows you to hook the Metal Pedal and another pedal up to your drum kit for dual-pedal play.
After releasing it from its box (and taking out the storage tab), the first thing that grabs your attention are the design features (including the plate on top) and how beefy it is. These two features help set the Metal Pedal apart from the standard equipment and other third party vendors. Not because it is stronger than the original Rock Band
pedal (it is), but because it has a cool look and feel not found on the standard equipment and is designed to take a pounding. I mean, who wouldn’t want a skeleton gracing your gear or a studded metal plate to keep your heel in place?
Once I had it unpackaged, I immediately went for the obligatory comparisons to the standard Rock Band equipment to see if I could pick out how many differences there were. When placing the Metal Pedal side-by-side with the Rock Band and Rock Band 2 pedals (seen in these series of pictures below with RB, RB and NYKO Metal Pedal from L to R), it’s easy to pick out the many differences in size and construction that make the Metal Pedal better.
After some breakage issues, some design changes were implemented form the original Rock Band pedal to the Rock Band 2 model to provide additional strength and prevent more failures. The most noticeable changes were the metal-reinforced plate added to the foot rest, a thicker and more tightly coiled spring as well as a new support pad on the bottom. While these were solid improvements, the NYKO Metal Pedal takes it a step further with a beefier design all the way around. The pedal itself is thicker and wider (as is the metal plate) and the plastic walls the entire unit are constructed of are almost twice as thick as the standard RB pedals. Also, unlike the RB and RB 2 pedals, the Metal Pedal doesn’t taper in and create a weak point in the center of the foot rest where the original RB pedal was snapping in half.
These improvements to the Metal Pedal's design are important as they promote stability, sturdiness and allow for the pressure points to evenly bear the weight of the unit while in use. In addition, I also noticed that the plastic piece that connects the foot rest to the frame of the pedal is much thicker and sturdier than the RB pedals, which was easily more stable during use. Another addition will benefit those that use their toes instead of the ball of their foot, as the Metal Pedal has a stopper at the tip of the underside of the foot rest, providing a flush area of impact from tip to tail.
After giving the pedals the eyeball test and hooking it up (it was as easy as setting the toggle switch to Rock Band or Guitar Hero and plugging it in), I was pleasantly surprised at how smoothly the pedal worked, and how even it felt when pressing and hitting the stoppers. There were
no hints of instability or any traction issues at all. In fact, I put in many hours of gameplay and it still is as responsive and smooth as it was when I unboxed it. I would love to sit here and tell you all about how well the Metal Pedal performed while playing “Battery”, but I wanted to test the thing out for long-durations and not play in 20 second spurts and then die (true story.)
One discovery I made during testing is that the spring in the NYKO Metal Pedal is actually about 15% less thick than the Rock Band 2 drum pedal and has less of a coil. Originally, I wasn’t sure how this would impact gameplay and was apprehensive that it may hamper the timing and sensitivity of the pedal by not having enough tension. After spending multiple hour marathons drumming through career mode, I came to the conclusion that the thinner spring was actually easier on my legs than the standard equipment. From a structural standpoint, I don’t believe that this spring will wear out any faster than the thicker springs on the original equipment due to how it is used. However, from a fatigue and comfort standpoint, I give the Metal Pedal a big thumbs up because I could actually play longer before my leg(s) go tired.
The only negative I found with the Metal Pedal was regarding the quality of the splitter and how it connected to the drum kit. The splitter is a bit on the basic side, yet it seems to get the job done as long as you don’t abuse it or have the cord stretched to the max so that it loses contact. Unfortunately, herein lies the catch as not everyone positions their pedal in the same place at the bottom of the drum kit. So the fit of the splitter into the drum kit plug, as well as the length of the coiled Metal Pedal cord could have been a bit snugger and a touch longer respectively in order to allow for maximum placement. However, I am nitpicking a bit as neither is any real detriment (at least to my preferred positioning of the pedals) when using the equipment.
Overall, the NYKO Metal Pedal is a great add-on to any Rock Band or Guitar Hero World Tour game as either a replacement or a second pedal. It is sturdy, responsive and won’t break the bank and I found it to cause less leg fatigue during use than either the original Rock Band or the Rock Band 2 pedals. Even if you are happy with your standard Rock Band pedal(s), I believe it is nice to have a second pedal handy not only to play the tougher bass sections in songs, but also just to easily switch from one foot to the other when they get tired. The NYKO Metal Pedal can be found from $19.99 - $24.99 at most major retailers (a little less online) and it compatible with Rock Band, Rock Band 2 and Guitar Hero World Tour for both the PS3 and Xbox 360.