Wednesday, October 21, 2009

"To Start Please Step Off Me and Press A" - Broken Balance Board, a cautionary tale

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 silicone cover on the Wii Fit OR 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 allthis 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!


At November 27, 2009 at 4:39 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

I just had this problem with my balance board. Nintendo is fixing it for $55 so that's better than buying a new one but I bought a new one anyway since some of the fitness games let you use more than one. I was using the rechargeable battery pack. Nintendo told me on the phone not to use the rechargeable battery pack in the balance board or the rechargeable wii remotes so I've chucked all that stuff out. They said it was fine to use rechargeable batteries that were charged outside the wii devices (balance board and remotes). Funny thing is when I bought my new balance board what was sitting right on top of the display of balance boards at Best Buy? The rechargeable packs. Stop that Best Buy!

At December 26, 2009 at 9:55 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Just got one for Christmas and allready have that message....and's not on a carpet amd NO...I don't weigh 300 lbs and NO....I didn't neglet to try to reset EVERY BLOODY thing 20 times including removing batteries etc ad nauseum......
What makes me mad is that yet ANOTHER irresponsible manufacturer passes on their "cruddy' and untested junk on a willing and trusting consumer only to throw up their hands and say...we didn't know....send it back ( at our expense BTW ) and we'll fix what should never have gone out in the first place and...oh....hope you like our polite answer-girls.
I say....SHOVE IT haven't done anything right since the damm 8 bit and let's face it....even that was so breakdownable it made us resort to a hundred different home-remedies to fix YOUR problematic console....

At December 31, 2009 at 12:37 PM , Anonymous KB said...

Got wii fit for Christmas and haven't been able to use it yet because all I get is "Step off me and press A". I'm becoming really annoyed with it as I've tried all the disconnecting/re-syncing etc that everyone suggest.
I'm going to have to contact the shop I got it from but if anyone has any other suggestions please let me know!

At January 19, 2010 at 7:44 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yes, I've only had the board two days. The first day it worked. My daughter put the silicone sleeve on last night and sure enough... today we have the white screen of death. Glad I bought it at Walmart and they'll take it back.

At February 5, 2010 at 10:08 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Easily fixed by reseating stress sensors.
If anyone needs a detailed fix post a reply here.

At February 8, 2010 at 12:04 PM , Anonymous judy kerrigan said...

unfortunately this did'nt work so i'm gonna have to buy another. thanx anyway

At February 19, 2010 at 5:53 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

My husband just bought me the wii fit. Today is the first time I've tried to use it and all I keep getting is the "please step off me and press A". It will let me select a mii, choose my height and birthday and then when it says now it's time for a body test all I keep getting is "step off". And I've never even used it before nor have I ever stepped on the board.


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