- : Use the direction pad to control Getsu Fuuma throughout the game. Different views have different control schemes:
- Overworld map: Use the direction pad to guide Fuuma north, south, east and west along the available pathways.
- Side scrolling: Press left or right to make Fuuma run in either direction. Press down to squat. Up has no function.
- First person: Hold up to walk forward one step. Press left or right to turn 90 degrees in either direction. Press down to perform an about-face.
- : Press the A button to perform a jump. In side scrolling view, you can jump considerably late, even after you feet have left the ground, allowing you to jump in mid-air.
- : Press the B button to attack with your sword. In first person view, hold left or right to swing your sword diagonally. You can also attack while jumping.
- : Press the Start button to begin a new game, and to pause the action mid-game. While paused, press the buttons to select items in your inventory. The item chosen becomes active as soon as you unpause the game.
- : Used on the title screen to select between starting a new game or continuing an old game by entering a password.
Getsu Fuuma is the warrior charged with avenging the death of your brothers at the hands of the demon known as "Dragon Master" and reclaim the Wave Swords that belong to your family. Getsu Fuuma is an agile and powerful swordsman, trained in mystical arts that allow him to wield his blade against the evil spirits that inhabit the underworld. Getsu Fuuma can jump quite high, and can actually jump in mid-air just after running off a ledge. Getsu Fuuma's primary form of attack is to swing his sword. As Fuuma uses his sword, it grows in strength, gradually becoming capable of killing demons with fewer swings. Fuuma can collect other items and collect them in his inventory for use at later times. Some items remain with him once he has collected them, and other items can only be used once and are lost. Fuuma has a health bar that will deplete if he gets hit by demons or the projectiles that they fire at him. If Fuuma loses all of his health, he will lose one life. Fuuma will also lose a life if he falls down a pit in the side scrolling sections of the game. If Fuuma loses all of his lives, the game will be over, and a spirit woman will offer to bring you back to life. If you accept, you will continue where you left off, but with half of your gold missing. If you decline, you will receive a password which you can enter the next time you play to resume where you left off. Throughout the game, you can collect the spiritual energy of some defeated demons to regain lost health, and you can even obtain extra lives on rare occasions.