Video Game News 119

“To Start Please Step Off Me and Press A” – Broken Balance Board, a cautionary tale

Update: For the “real” solution, here’s Ferdi’s comment from August 15, 2010.

Hi All,
Here is what WORKED for me!!!!
I encountered the same problem. Tried to sync. Removed silicone cover. Used good batteries. No result. After reading Anonymous post of “February 5, 2010″ it tried “reseating stress sensors”.
Here’s how:
– Remove the foots from each corner using a normal Phillips Screwdriver.
– (keep them in the right order to put back later)
– Loosen (remove) the “stress sensors” small metal plate you see now at each corner using a “torx” screw driver.
– Re-seat the small metal plate by putting it back but don’t screw too tight.
– Put the foots back on.
This should do it. You can also test if it worked before putting the foot back on. If not try again.
Good luck to you all, and safe $50.

I’d still try the troubleshooting steps I outlined below first, but if (when) they don’t work, his solution works like a charm.

Thanks Ferdi, for saving a lot of people from paying Nintendo’s ridiculous fees to fix an engineering problem they refuse to acknowledge and for bringing new life back to their broken balance boards!

Here’s my original post:

This is somewhat of a cautionary tale.

I’ve owned the Wii Fit since November 2008 and its worked flawlessly for 11 months. Then yesterday, in the middle of a game I got this message saying “To start, please step off me and press A”

To start, please step off me and press A

Problem is, I would step off and nothing would happen. I’d try getting on and getting off, and nothing would change, the screen would just be stuck on this message. The balance board, to use geek parlance, is bricked.

After searching on the Internet, I found that this is not an uncommon problem. Those commenting have dubbed it the “white screen of death”. Nintendo has an FAQ on the subject, but it’s fairly useless if you’re in this predicament. Oddly, when you select “Settings” from the Wii Fit main menu, the diagnostics all check out okay.

And unfortunately there seems to be no solution. The warranty on the Balance Board is three months, so if you’re within that period you can call Nintendo at 1-800-255-3700 and they’ll repair or replace it for free. If it’s after that time, unfortunately, you’ll have to pay about $50 to get it repaired.

Here’s a compilation of all the tips I’ve found on the Internet on this subject. In some cases, people have reported that these steps have solved the problem. In my case I didn’t have luck, but maybe you will.

  1. Most importantly: if you are using a rechargeable battery (instead of standard batteries), STOP IMMEDIATELY. Evidently this is a common theme across Balance Board units that fail. It galls me, because vendors will push these products upon us at discounted prices, but in the long run Nintendo personnel have stated unequivocally that these things have caused problems and WILL invalidate warranties. Caveat emptor.
  2. Try a basic “reset” of the system. Here’s how:
    1. Disconnect the Wii from the wall outlet and remove all batteries from the balance board for at least 15 minutes.
    • Plug in the Wii and power it on
    • Open the front cover of the Wii and press the red “sync” button of 15 seconds. This should clear all controllers from your system.
    • Take your primary Wii-mote and open the battery cover. Press the red “sync” button on the Wii-mote, and then quickly (while the front blue lights are blinking), press the red “sync” button on the Wii. Your Wii-mote will register with the system
    • Put the batteries in the balance board
    • Start up Wii Fit or Wii Fit Plus
    • Once the game has started, press the “sync” button by the balance board’s battery cover and then quickly press the red “sync” button on the Wii. Your balance board will get recognized as the fourth controller.
  3. Desperation measures. Some users have reported success when they rotate their balance board. Presumably if there was a stuck gyrometer or something, this would unstick it.
If none of these things work, chances are your balance board is totalled. The fact that the diagnostics work indicates that it’s not a problem with the actual balance board hardware per se, but perhaps a fried circuit board or something.
I ended up buying a new balance board at Amazon. The one good thing out of all this is that I can give the extra copy of Wii Fit Plus I get to my nephew for his birthday. It was a tough $93.99 pill to swallow, but now I know NOT to use a rechargeable battery pack in the future. I also used a credit card with extended warranty.

Has the “To start, please step off me and press A” white screen of death happened to you? Post a comment to report your troubleshooting steps, or just to vent!