Every deck contains an arrangement of barrels, and some form of indestructible object like an oil drum, bag, or coin. The objective of every stage is to defeat every pirate that is wandering around the deck, or hiding inside of the barrels. To remove pirates that are wandering around the deck, you must roll barrels or one of the indestructible objects into them. If a pirate is wandering around the deck inside of a barrel, you must hit it once to knock it out of the barrel, and hit it again to remove it from the deck. The number of pirates remaining on the deck can be see at the top of the screen, below the high score. Pirates that are hiding in barrels will remain hidden until one or more of the current pirates have been removed from the deck. If Higemaru happens to pick up one of these barrels, are pair of eyes will be seen on the barrel. When Higemaru throws that barrel, it will crash and the pirate hidden inside will be deducted from the remaining pirate count. Momotaru is awarded an increasing number of points the more pirates he manages to defeat with a single barrel. Hitting Bous with the barrel will also increase the number of points awarded.
Note: When Momotaru begins to throw a barrel left or right, he tosses it up into the air slightly before it drops back down into Momotaru's row. As a result, these barrels can hit enemies who are just slightly above Momotaru, in addition to any enemy directly ahead of him. Use this to your advantage.
Every fourth desk is Hi-point stage. On these stages, you will fight nothing but a team of Bous. They will wander around the deck as usual, being replaced by another Bous when one is defeated, until all of the Bous have been removed from the deck. During this time, the chances to score are much higher, and the three bonus items hidden inside of the flashing barrels have better point values.
If Momotaru picks up and breaks 16 barrels, an object will appear such as an anchor, a steering wheel, a skull or, on the hi-point stages, a hook. If Momotaru picks up these objects, he will be granted temporary invincibility. While invinicible, the Higemaru pirates will literally be frozen with fear. Merely touching the pirates is enough to send them overboard, causing another pirate to jump out and freeze on the spot until no more pirates are available. If a pirate is in a barrel, touching the barrel will drive them out. After you collect the invincibility object, the same object which decorate the top of the screen, will travel along the sides of the screen and meet at the bottom. Then they will return to the original positions. When they do, the invincibility will end.
While there is no timer, and no official time limit, if you remain on one deck for too long, a warning sound will be played. When that sound is played, the four skull and crossbones that decorate the corners of the screen will travel into the outer edge of the playfield and rotate around for a little while. Momotaru will lose one life if he touches them while they are moving around. After some time, they will return to the corners and wait a while before repeating the process.
The first 8 stages are played linearly after a one lesson stage in which you must defeat all three pirates before advancing. After the first 8 stages are complete, the next 8 stages will loop forever until Momotaru runs out of lives. The bright circles on the pictures indicate the presence and location of a hidden bonus (see below).
The bright circles on the pictures of some of the decks illustrate the position of a hidden bonus. In order to collect a hidden bonus, you must make sure that the indestructible object indicated on the picture is the very first object that Momotaru lifts. If anything else gets picked up first, the hidden bonus will disappear. A strawberry from Exed Exes can only be found on Deck 3. The famous Capcom Yashichi can be found on Deck 6 and every 8th deck thereafter. The sailor suit which grants Momotaru an extra life can be found on Deck 10 and every 8th deck thereafter. All other bonus locations will provide you with the 50,000 point phoenix.