Surf's Up was the third and last game to make use of Amiga's JoyBoard controller. The JoyBoard was a quirky device that you would stand on and lean in the direction you wanted your character to move. An interesting concept, but it didn't work overly well and only one officially released game (Mogul Maniac) made use of it. While Amiga's second game Off Your Rocker was sold in limited quantities through Happy Valley Video, Surf's Up was never sold in stores.
In case you haven't guessed, Surf's Up is a surfing game which attempts to use the JoyBoard to mimic a surfboard. While this wasn't a bad idea in concept, the gameplay didn't quite work out the way Amiga had hoped. The game is pretty much a balance contest as you stand on the JoyBoard trying not to fall off as you begin to doze off from the gameplay. Yes folks, the game is that boring.
You control a little yellow surfboard (which just happens to be the same size and shape as the JoyBoard) which you can move about the screen in an attempt to "ride the wave". You can move towards the top of the wave (represented by a red line) to score points, but if you stay there too long you'll wipe out. Beyond that you can move left and right along the screen, but you don't gain any points for doing so. There is a second red line which moves up and down the screen, but doesn't appear to do anything (perhaps it's simulating the movement of the wave?). Once you've moved around the screen and wiped out once or twice, you've seen all there is to see in the game.
While the gameplay may need work, the graphics in Surf's Up are very well done. The title screen shows a little man (who looks like a stick figure) on a surfboard in a rather well drawn ocean scene. The next screen shows a first person view of the ocean from your surfboard as you pick which level you want to start on. The starting level must affect the difficulty of the game, but I haven't noticed a difference. The main game screen shows your little yellow surfboard on a moving blue ocean with some palm trees, houses, and a mountain (a volcano?) in the background. The rhythmic roll of the ocean has been nicely implemented with moving blue lines which give you a calm, relaxed feeling. Too bad Amiga spent their entire game budget on the graphics, because the gameplay needs some major work!
All in all Surf's Up isn't really a bad game I suppose, plus it is the only surfing game for the 2600 in the US (unless you count the surfing sequence in California Games). Using an actual JoyBoard instead of an emulator will enhance the gameplay slightly, but not enough to make me want to play it for more than a few minutes. In all fairness to Amiga, they may have still been tweaking the gameplay since this is a prototype. However I don't see what more could be done to make this game interesting since what you can do is limited by the JoyBoard itself (no wild tricks or dangerous jumps would be possible). Nice try Amiga. An A for effort, but a C- for execution.