No matter where you are in the world, it’s a sad fact that surf cannot be up at all times throughout the year. Even if you live in some of the prime surf spots in the world such as the Australia, Morrocco, Waikiki, Tahiti, or even Bali, you’re always subject to Mother Nature’s ebbs and flows meaning that although there may be many months of great surf, there can also be periods of flat and flaccid waters. Surfers could very well use these periods of wave-less waters to reflect on their skills, practice with only their board on the sand, or maybe even venture abroad to other countries to surf there, but there’s another option for those who aren’t completely serious about their surfing career: surfing games. And there’s quite a few games out there that attempt to both simulate the traditional surfing experience as well as make additions and augmentations to it in order to provide you with a unique surf-based gaming experience. There are also lots of sub-par surf games out there, which is where this page comes in. Let this page list some of the best surf games for you in order of quality and entertainment value.
Big Wave Dave: Legend of Surf
You can tell by the snazzy intro with the surf-style music that Big Wave Dave isn’t like most of the other surf games you will find out there. Possessing considerably more style than most other surf games, Big Wave Dave isn’t just a five-minute surf-and-stop experience: it has depth and style that makes it one of the best surf games out there on the internet.
This game, whose story is entitled ‘Legend of Surf’, firstly allows you to either choose to play as Big Wave Dave or create your own surfer. Customisation always makes games more worthwhile, and in this case it adds a depth that 90% of other surf games simply don’t have. The gameplay is just as impressive as the initial customisation stages. Once you have chosen/customised your surfer, you get to ride waves, performing tricks and collecting power-ups such as speed boosters and other fun items. You also must avoid the choppy waters at the bottom of the screen otherwise you will fall off. Simply perform various tricks and ride the waves, the rest simply feels natural, as does the fun you will have.
Big Wave Dave (apparently no affiliation with Big Wave Dave’s Waikiki Surf School) is undoubtedly one of the best games in this entire list, and it has the best physics engine too: is simply feels natural and more realistic than the others here.
If you’re looking for an entirely unique take on the surfer game genre, then Surfvivor will definitely fit in with your search. Surfvivor doesn’t promise to simulate the surfing experience itself but rather has you saving the lives of several surfers that are in dire trouble on account of the sharks that are present in the water.
The game is played from a birds-eye perspective and you simply have to use your mouse to click on the water to cause ripples and waves that get your surfers out of the way. It is a constant struggle since the number of sharks and attacks increase over time, making it inevitable that at least some of your surfer lot will be eaten. Though this game doesn’t involve surfing in the classic sense, it makes for a superior experience to Surf’s Up and Roaring Waves. If the shark element of this game interests you, you’ll also be happy to know that there are plenty of unique shark games out there just like this one.
What does it take to be a surf stud? Apparently only rudimentary levels of skill if the flash-based game by the same name is anything to go by. In Surf Stud, we have another example of a light-hearted and not-too-deep surfing game where you get to take to the waves and enjoy some instantly-rewarding surfing fun. You control a tiny surfer riding a comparatively massive wave and must complete all of the tricks listed on the screen. Movement is performed with the directional arrows as are most of the aerial tricks; the A key allows you to perform a cutback and D a hang ten. The idea is to complete three levels in a row in order to earn the title of ‘surf stud’.
Though Surf Stud is great for a bit of shallow fun, it doesn’t hold a candle to Big Wave Dave. This is still a better game in general than Surf’s Up or Roaring Waves however, so it is well worth considering if you want a bit of short-term surfing action based in your browser.
You can immediately tell by the standard funky music with a straight-up electric guitar riff marching over it that you’re playing a shockwave game, but don’t let these common features put you off Roaring Waves. Candy Stand’s Surfing Simulator cuts out the arduous task of wading out to see and slow recoveries after wiping out in order to bring you a game that is 100% surfing action: it has all of the best bits and none of the bad bits. The aim is to simply ride the wave for as long as you can without falling off, performing a variety of tricks on the way for points.
Roaring Waves gives you a selection of four surfers to choose from, two women and two men, and all in the kind of shape you would expect from a stereotypical portrayal of the average surfer in your average issue of Surfing Magazine. Once you have chosen your particular surfer, you get to shred the waves. Use the directional arrows to control the movement of your surfer, and Z, X and C keys to carve the wave, perform a jump at the top of the wave, and float on top of the wave respectively. You can also use the Z key whilst in mid-air to perform an aerial grab. The idea is to string together a bunch of tricks so that you can attain the minimum score required to move onto the next level. More challenging waters await, as does an increased minimum score required to complete each successive level.
The game is a typical shockwave title, allowing instantaneous surfing action with decent (though not ground-breaking) graphics, slightly annoying music, and a fairly shallow (yet highly enjoyable) concept. The game could perhaps do with a mode that has a long-term goal such as a career mode or one which lets you build up your surfers and improve their various attributes, though this is probably best left for a more serious surfing game and not one that simply provides a bit of light surfing entertainment. You can discover and play Roaring Waves at Candystand.
More light-hearted surfing fun awaits in the comparatively simplistic Surf’s Up, Miniclip’s answer to online surfing fun. Though one would expect to perform a variety of tricks and moves in a surfing game, Surf’s Up aims to keep it simple, providing you with a surfer, a side-scrolling ocean wave, and the challenge of scoring as many points as possible by riding the wave without falling off your board.
The controls are as simple as the challenge the game sets you: the left and right arrows control your movement and the spacebar is used to get your surfer to turn quickly when in the air. It may sound like a simple task, but if you land awkwardly or venture too far towards the bottom of the screen you will find that it is very easy to get yourself a disastrous wipe-out, thus setting you back a few seconds and bringing you closer to having to start all over again.
Surf’s Up is considerably less sophisticated than games like Roaring Waves, though it does have a more distinctive style that sets itself apart from the fairly generic shockwave style you often see with Miniclip games. This game is also rather difficult because the zone inside which you must keep your surfer to prevent him falling off is very narrow, as is the range of angles that you can allow him to land at. The physics of this game also feel a little off: almost jerky and unnatural in fashion and a far cry from the comparatively smooth physics of Roaring Waves. You can play Surf’s Up at Miniclip, though this certainly isn’t the best in this list.
Unfortunately for Zombie Surf, this game is rather similar to Bogan Surf in its overly-fast pacing of the action. This game is considerably more stylish than Bogan Surf however since its differentiating factor is that you play as a zombie character that you choose at the beginning. The premise is still too similar to other surf games however, which is to surf and perform tricks without falling off. You also get three lives before you must start again as well, and you lose these lives by wiping out by landing a trick awkwardly, getting too close to the bottom of the screen, or letting a wave descend on you. This can be fun for a few minutes but gets frustrating, failing to encapsulate the magical gameplay of surfing games like Subway Surf.
Can you last three minutes in the water? Well, if you consider how difficult it can be to get accustomed to this game’s narrow definition of surfing, then the likely answer is going to be ‘no’, at least for the first few tries anyway. The game is similar to the other surf games in this list in that you must try and perform tricks on a wave using only the directional controls and the spacebar to increase your turning speed.
The problem with this game is that the playing window is fairly small and the surfer moves exceedingly fast, causing you to all too often crash into the rocks at the bottom of the screen or wipe-out after a trick. The graphics of this game aren’t that bad for a 2D flash game, it’s just that the physics are way off and it is almost impossible for beginners to enjoy themselves unless they spend a great deal of time getting to grips with the basics. As far as surfing games go, this one isn’t the best, but there are plenty more out there that are fully deserving of your time.