How the Wii Balance Board Works

Troubleshooting the Board

During its launch period, the Wii Remote, a close sibling to the Wii Balance Board, was plagued with strap-breaking problems. So far, the board has avoided such massive hitches. Most complaints about the board seem to touch on one of two issues: its safety and the synchronization process.

The former brings us to why you should -- but don't necessarily have to -- be barefooted when you use the balance board (unless you snagged a pair of Nintendo's official "Wii Fit" non-skid socks): It can be slippery. Sure, Nintendo designed it to be close to the ground and even included a few inset grooves on top to help gamers find the approximate location of their feet. But, let's face it: If you're wearing either shoes or a particularly thick pair of socks, you won't have a good grip and may fall off. So while there isn't anything technically wrong with wearing something on your feet when you're using the board, you should just be aware that it can be risky. It also goes without saying that, whether or not you are wearing shoes, you should not use the board at all if you weigh more than 330 pounds, because it won't work properly.

Also, before you start playing a game with the Balance Board, you have to synchronize it to the console -- a process called Standard Mode Synchronization -- by pressing the "Sync" buttons in the Wii's SD card slot and in the board's battery cover slot for several seconds. You'll also need to repeat the process for each new board-compatible game.

For the most part, users seem to hit snags when they don't do one of the following:

  • Ensure that their game is compatible with the board
  • Make sure that each compatible game is synchronized with the Wii
  • Keep the batteries fresh

Otherwise, users sometimes also forget to place the board with the blue power light facing away from the television. If it is facing the wrong way, the movements onscreen are reversed. Gamers also experience problems synchronizing the board with the Wii when they use incompatible rechargeable battery packs. Nintendo's official line in that regard is that you should use standard AA batteries. If you do want to use rechargeable AA batteries, however, they should be nickel metal hydride (NiMH) batteries.

We've spent a lot of time discussing the board's history and capabilities, but what about the games? Now, we'll talk about the game that singlehandedly kicked off the balance board craze, "Wii Fit," and some of the other games that use its functionality.