Wave Race features two game modes including Slalom and Circuit. In Slalom, the player must go in between poles that stick out of the water, acquiring points as they do so. In Circuit the player must complete a race before the time runs out. In the race mode there are eight different courses. The power ups in this mode include:
- Dolphin - Will make your player invincible and will let your player go as fast as possible.
- Octopus - If you collect one of these, you will be able to ram into your opponents to steal there items and power ups.
Other available modes include Multi and Practice. Multi allows for up to four friends to race against each other. Practice allows the player to freshen up before racing.
Two sequels were made in the Wave Race series. The first one, Wave Race 64, was created for the Nintendo 64 and the second, Wave Race: Blue Storm, for the GameCube. The Power Cruising mode in Wii Sports Resort is heavily influenced by the Wave Race series.
- This is the only Wave Race game to be released on a handheld platform.