Since the battles in Goku Hishōden involve mostly strategy (as it's a turn-based RPG), the only controls that need to be known are to select and to cancel. All that will need to be known is what attacks to use and defense strategies by picking them. For a better explanation of the battle strategy, go to the strategy section or to get started on the first battle, go to the Walkthrough.
To the right is a diagram of what your screen should look like at the beginning of the battle. You and your opponents' portraits will be displayed. The diagram shows the first battle, against a clone of Goku as an introduction to the game. Health Points (HP) is displayed at the top of the character stats. These are lost when your opponent successfully executes an attack on you. Ki is how much energy you have, depending on what kind of move you want to execute on your opponent. Lastly, SP determines how many attacks you have left before it's your opponent's turn to attack. Right at the start of the battle, the SP bars will fill up and the fight will begin.
The main menu will be your navigation point for what you want to do. Your options include Story Mode, Tournament, Two-player Versus, and Training. Story is basically going through the story and playing as Goku the whole time. Tournament puts you in a tournament and makes you battle different characters from the Dragon Ball Z series in your fight to the top. Versus puts you in a simple fight against you and a character your opponent chooses, and you take turns attacking each other and whoever is left standing is the winner. Training lets you train with Kami in a tutorial-like mode, with Kami walking you through a battle. To the right is a picture of the original Game Boy version of the Main Menu, opposed to the diagram above, which is the Super Game Boy version with full color.