- Joystick: Use the joystick to direct the player character, Momotaru, around the ship deck. Momotaru can move in any of the four cardinal directions, as long as nothing is blocking his path.
- Action: The action button is used to pick up a barrel or object when Momotaru has nothing in his hands, and to throw the barrel or object in the direction that Momotaru is facing when he is holding it.
- 1-2 Players: Press either button to begin a 1 or 2 player game.
Momotaru is the lone renegade and brave sailor who has boarded the Pirate Ship Higemaru in an effort to defeat the rouge band of pirates and claim back all of their stolen booty. Your objective is to safely guide Momotaru through his mission, by helping him evade capture by the pirates, and by defeating the gang of pirate through the effective use of rolling barrels. Across the deck of every ship is an arrangement of barrels. Momotaru can pick each one up, one at a time, and roll them in the direction of his pursuers. If the barrel successfully makes contact with an enemy, they are thrown high into the air, and ultimately overboard the ship. Each deck is cleared when there are no more pirates left. Momotaru will lose one life every time he is capture by the Higemaru gang or their leader, Bous.
The Higemaru is a wily band of pirates who faithfully serve their leader Bous. The have been given the order to capture Momotaru and put an end to his attempt to steal back the pirates' stolen goods. While many of them hop out of barrels and immediately give chase, some of them will jump back in barrels and wander around the deck. While a good number of pirates occupy the deck, the remainder will stay inside of barrels, waiting for the perfect opportunity to jump out and pursue Momotaru. If the Higemaru are struck by a rolling barrel, they will get knocked up in the air and fall overboard. However, if a Higemaru is running around inside a barrel when he gets struck, he will be forced out of his barrel and land on the deck dazed. While dazed, they are harmless, but they will eventually regain the senses and give chase again.
Bous is an interesting pirate leader. He starts out in one corner of the ship, and wanders about monitoring the progress of his pirate gang. So determined is Bous to see an end to the efforts of Momotaru that even if he is thrown overboard by a rolling barrel, he will use the hook at the end of his hand to climb back up onto the boat, reappear in a new corner, and resume his chase. Only on the hi-point decks, which occur every fourth stage, will you ever see more than one Bous.
Regular bonuses can be collected by lifting the flashing barrels in the regular deck stages.
Hi-point bonuses can only be collected by lifting the flashing barrels in the hi-point deck stages, which occur every fourth stage.
Hidden bonuses can only be found on certain stage arrangements. They will only appear if the object under which they are hidden is the very first object which is lifted on the entire deck.