The arcade version of Bionic Commando is a linear action game. You must complete five stages and you must complete them in the same order every time. Generally speaking, your goal in each stage is to start somewhere in the lower left corner of the stage, and climb your way to the upper right, although each stage varies in composition. In the first two stages, you are only required to reach the end of the stage in order to advance to the next stage. However, in the latter three stages, you must also defeat certain members of the enemy force with higher rank before you can proceed. The stages that you must complete are as follows:
- Stage 1 - Base Entrance: Climb up a series of trees and branches in order to reach the base at the foot of the mountain.
- Stage 2 - The Forefront: Scale the fortified mountain and dodge cannon fire and crates to access the base interior.
- Stage 3 - Infiltration: Gain deeper access to enemy headquarters by sneaking in to the lower levels through the sewers.
- Stage 4 - Control Tower: A series of gates leads to a platform that takes you to an advanced computer complex.
- Stage 5 - Stop the Missile: Knowing you're close, the enemy has set a plan in motion which must be stopped in order to survive.