- / : Press left or right on the direction pad to advance Ryuhi in either direction.
- : Hold down on the direction pad to squat. Ryuhi cannot attack while squatting in this mode.
- : Press the A button to perform a kick.
- : Press the B button to punch. If Ryuhi has collecting the Crescent Wave tile from the third Journey mini boss, he can throw Crescent Wave attacks when he punches.
- : Press Start to begin a new game, or to pause the action mid-game.
- : Press Select to quickly advance through any text or dialogue.
In order to reach his ultimate destinations such as master Gengai's dojo, or to any one of the tournaments, Ryuhi must take to the street, or travel along a path that puts him in direct contact with the Tusk Soldiers. It is not enough the Ryuhi simply reaches his destination; he must do combat with several members of their gang in order to gain access to the entrance at the end of the journey. If he does not, he will have no choice but to loop around and repeat the journey over and over until he finally obtains the key from the fifth boss that he defeats. However, defeating the first four bosses will grant him powers and improve his fighting ability, so combat is well worth the effort. Along the way, several statues are positioned along the path and on rooftops. If Ryuhi attacks some of them, they will reveal hidden items for Ryuhi to collect. Ryuhi has a health meter, shown at the top of the screen. Every time he is hit by an enemy attack, he loses a little health. If he loses all of his health, or if he falls down a pit along the bottom of the screen, he loses one life and must start the journey over from the beginning.
As Ryuhi travels along a path, several of the Tusk Soldiers henchmen thugs will appear and advance on Ryuhi in an effort to attack him and slow him down. They are neither powerful or intelligent, and are easily taken out with one attack. Nevertheless, they are fearless and will not stop for any reason, so be prepared to face them as they approach. Bosses will only appear after you have defeated a high enough quantity of thugs. Ordinary thugs are one predominant color. On occasion, you may notice a thug that wears a slightly different set of colors. These thugs are a bit faster than an ordinary thug, so you must be prepared to react accordingly. In addition to the basic thugs, you may be attacked by demon heads at various points along the journey. These heads appear from the right side of the screen and travel straight to the left. They are invulnerable to attack and are best avoided entirely.
After a number of thugs have been defeated, a boss will appear to challenge you along your journey. Though the bosses differ in appearance, and sometime in movement, they are fairly similar to one another. They each attack by lobbing an object at you, and they must be defeated in order to collect one of the 力 (or chikara) labels. The fifth 力 label that you collect will be the key to the entrance at the end of your journey, so you must defeat at least five bosses to complete any journey. A boss can only be defeated if you deplete its life when they're on the screen. If you push them off the screen, or if they fall down a pit, they will escape.
In order to complete any journey, Ryuhi must fight and defeat five bosses to collect the chikara labels that they are holding. For every label that Ryuhi collects, he will gain one additional ability until he collects the fifth and final label, which will grant him access to the entrance at the end of his journey.
Hidden statue items
The following items may be hidden inside particular statues along your journey. You must attack a statue to reveal any hidden item that it might contain.