Variety. It's the spice of life, or so someone once said. I think it was Jamie Oliver. When you see a game based on an animated kid's movie, your immediate assumption tends to be that it's a platform game of dubious innovation and passable gameplay. And that's why Surf's Up gets off to a good start. Based on this week's summer holiday movie of choice (plot: penguins surf!) this is a dedicated sports game with nary a match-the-buttons mini game or conveyor-belt-filled-factory in sight. It's simply a surfing game aimed at the under 10s, rather than the usual Tony Hawk crowd.
There are twelve courses in all, spread across five locations lifted from the film, with ramps, rocks, slides and barriers and an inexorably rolling wave crashing in from either the left or right. This wave is your best friend and worst enemy, offering endless opportunities for leaps and tricks, but also capable of crushing you into the scenery if you time things badly. Each course has various objectives, with success unlocking trophies and shells, which in turn open up new levels, characters, surfboards and accessories.
The most obvious challenge is to beat the target score by performing tricks. Once you're airborne, either by hitting a ramp or surfing up and off the top of the wave, the A button triggers a quick and easy stunt for 150 points, B launches a more advanced trick which nets you 400 points, while X is used for grab tricks where the points keep racking up as long as you keep the button held down. There are also rails to grind along, and you can earn points by riding the crest of the wave in a similar manner. As in every other extreme sports title, you have to land the trick to earn the points, but this is fairly easy thanks to the game's generally forgiving nature.