Surf's Up for the Game Boy Advance is a racing game in which all of the participants are penguins riding atop surfboards. The general idea is that you're supposed to outrun three other opponents to the end of a side-scrolling course loaded with obstacles, jump ramps, and grind rails. For the first 10 minutes or so, the game is genuinely fun because you're figuring out what to do and discovering all kinds of fancy trick moves. However, after the initial break-in period, you'll quickly tire of smoking the competition and repeatedly performing the same tricks. As it is, the whole game can be completed in a couple of hours.
The game's various courses scroll by automatically, and as they do, you move your penguin character up or down to avoid floating rocks and to take advantage of jump ramps, grind rails, waterspouts, or other fun launchers. Grabbing star symbols and other items fills your boost gauge, which lets you put the pedal to the metal, so to speak. Geek, Tank, and Chicken Joe from the movie are also trying to win the race. If they get too close, you can press one of the shoulder buttons to slap them like Whitney did Bobby B. You can also perform tricks while flying through the air. There are only five different tricks, performed by pressing the B button and a direction, but you can string them together into crazy, long chains.
Even though the blue-gray backgrounds look crude by today's standards, cute animated details, such as splashy landings and big crashing waves, constantly enliven the surroundings. Cody, Lani, and all of the other movie characters are very colorful. Their trick animations are also generally fluid, not to mention goofy. The splish-splash sound effects and looping rock riffs are appropriate, though they won't make you want to crank up the volume.
There's a period of about 10 minutes during which the game will hold your attention. You're smacking penguins upside the head, performing tricks while sailing through the air, and generally having a good time. Unfortunately, the thrill soon wears off once you realize that CPU opponents can't keep up with you. You'll also realize that you're always seeing the same ramp fixtures and constantly performing the same tricks. It might be a plus, then, that you'll only need about an hour to finish the 22 race and freestyle events in the championship mode. It will also take roughly another hour to complete the challenges that unlock once you take the gold. Of course, paying full price to bring home two hours of play time seems silly. There are also three Surf's Up-themed puzzle minigames to kill time with, but they're too plain to warrant more than a quick look-see.
Unless you're buying the game to keep a small child occupied for a few hours, you should probably avoid the GBA version of Surf's Up. It's just too meager to be taken seriously.