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The game's story follows the movie. The main penguin, Cody Maverick, is a nobody in the Antarctic. Determined to become a somebody, he chooses the world of surfing to make his mark. He decides to enter the Big Z Memorial Surf Off, which provides the setting and premise for the in-game racing.
The entire game if a surfing simulation. Before starting a race the player selects a surfboard and one of 10 characters. One side of the screen is filled by a continually breaking wave, which propels the player through the level. Occasionally the wave will break in a tube, giving the player a chance to perform special tricks for an increased score. Reminiscent of skating games like the Tony Hawk series, you can perform basic tricks like jumps and grabs to score points and build your "Stoke" meter. Each of the games 13 courses tasks you with acquiring a certain number of points, surfing through colored gates, or collecting surf idols. There is also a split screen versus mode and a mini game called Leaf Slide which simply puts Cody on a leaf sliding down a hill avoiding obstacles.
The game received a mediocre reception, generally receiving mid range scores from most sites. Comments like, " Hanging 10 in this movie-licensed surfing game has its moments--just don't expect to enjoy it for very long." from Gamespot are indicative of the average feeling of the game. The largest criticism leveled against it was the full price for a game that lasts 3-4 hours.