Loosely based on the movie of the same name, Surf's Up for the Sony PSP is a racing game in which all of the participants are penguins riding atop surfboards. The general idea is that you're supposed to complete laps around a course full of obstacles, turbo pads, and jump ramps. Then, hopefully you'll end up in first place, thanks to some help from the weapon boxes scattered around the track and your own arsenal of trick moves. Although you don't have much control over the tricks you perform, the racing is usually riotous and the attractive 3D graphics generally put the system's horsepower to good use. Just don't expect to get more than an afternoon or two out of the game before you're finished with it.
In the game, you complete laps around courses situated on ocean or river environments. The 3D graphics don't exactly stress the PSP, but the undulating water and various island locales do look nice. The frame rate also remains silky smooth, even when waves are crashing down and the characters are performing somersaults in midair. Characters bounce around constantly as their boogie boards pass over waves. That, combined with the splashy landings, gives Surf's Up the same sort of look and feel as Wave Race or Jet Moto. The sound effects mainly consist of generic splashing noises and brief character comments. The soundtrack is loaded down with songs from artists, such as Simple Plan and Silverbullit, but if you don't like the music that comes with the game, you have the option of making a playlist using your own MP3 files by placing them into the game's folder on the memory stick.
Every course offers multiple shortcuts, and you'll get plenty of chances to boost, grind, or splash down from lofty heights during each lap. Passing over boost arrows or performing tricks as you launch off of jump ramps will increase your speed, whereas running into rocks, trees, and other obstacles will slow you down. You and your opponents can also make use of six different gnarly weapons to hinder each other. They're the usual assortment of turbos, shields, rockets, homing missiles, floating mines, and blinding muck every game like this has, except that they all look like fish species that penguins might encounter out on the open sea. Weapon boxes are plentiful on every course, which the CPU uses liberally, so each race offers an energetic mix of high-flying lead changes and gut-wrenching wipeouts. The CPU also seems to be able to put up a good challenge without resorting to rubber-band tactics. On the whole, the design is solid even though there's nothing here that hasn't already been done in similar games.