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- The first stage contains the most game play features out of all of the stages. Popeye starts on the high ledge on the left. Popeye can make use of any flight of steps,he can climb down the central ladder but not back up, and he can warp from one side of the screen to the other via the top ledge.
- Olive will throw hearts that waft and float down to the water below. The hearts move in a somewhat unpredictable pattern, with some falling at a faster rate than others. Picking them up at a higher level earns Popeye more points. If a heart reaches the water below, you only have a few moments to run down a pick it up before it is lost forever, which results in the loss of one life.
- All the while, Brutus will try to catch Popeye. If he succeeds, you lose one life. If he is one ledge below you, he will try to grab your feet from below. If he is above you, he may try to swipe at your head, or he may even jump down to your level. If he occupies the opposite side of the ledge that you are standing on, he may opt to throw a series of bottles at you.
- A can of spinach alternates between two positions on the left side of the screen. Popeye can grab it at any time, and it will not return until the round is cleared. While strong from the spinach, the point value for collecting hearts doubles. You can also punch Brutus into the water which clears the screen of Brutus for a short period of time.
- Beneath Olive is a punching bag and a bucket. In order for Popeye to make use of these items, he must leap off from the top right ledge and press punch as he nears the punching bag. This will cause the bag to slide over and knock the bucket loose from its position. If it hits Brutus in the head on its way down, Brutus will be momentarily stunned, allowing Popeye to whisk past him harmlessly until he gets the bucket off of his head. The lower Brutus is when the bucket hits him, the more bonus points Popeye will earn for the feat.
- The Sea Hag warps in to the stage on the side of the level that Popeye is currently occupying. She throws a bottle at Popeye which can be punched for points. If Popeye is hit by a bottle from the Sea Hag or Brutus, he loses a life. Over time, she will appear simultaneously on either side of the screen and throw a bottle from either end. At harder levels, the Sea Hag will also throw skulls at Popeye, so be careful not to get caught between them and Brutus or one of his bottles.
- There is not as much room to maneuver in stage 2 as there was in stage 1, but fortunately there are not as many notes as there were hearts that need to be caught either. Olive plays the harp on the balcony and the notes she plays drop down in a similar fashion to the hearts.
- Employ the same strategy for collecting them as you did the hearts in stage 1. Higher equals more points, but don't risk it if Brutus is near. The Spinach is stationary so it will be easy to grab in case Popeye needs it. Popeye can only warp from one side to the other via the third level from the bottom, but Brutus can't do the same so use it for a quick getaway.
- There is a see saw in the lower left corner of the screen with Wimpy standing on the other end. Jumping on it causes Popeye to shoot up to the highest available ledge. But beware as Brutus can do the same. If Swee'Pea is low enough when Popeye flies to the top, he can grab the bar for 500 bonus points, or 1000 if he has just eaten spinach.
- The Sea Hag appears in the same fashion that she does on the first stage. Since there is less room to get away from the bottles than before, use the gaps in the floor, the thru sides, and the see-saw to get away from dangerous situations.
- This stage starts out with Bernard dumping poor Olive at the top of the ship. In order for Popeye to rescue Olive this time, he must capture all of the letters H, E, L, and P that Olive tosses down.
- With every letter that Popeye claims, a rung of a ladder is added that reaches up to the top. When all of the letters are collected, the ladder is completed. The ladder is inaccessible to Popeye, so must use the steps on the ship.
- There is a platform that moves back and forth on the highest level. If Popeye steps on it, it will immediately slide over to the opposite side, which can be used to help speed up the collection of the letters.
- Besides Brutus and the Sea Hag, there is an extra threat in stage with the continuous attacks by Bernard the vulture. Bernard is easily stopped by punching him in the beak, but it doesn't take long for him to recover and return again.
- The spinach on this level alternates between two points. The gaps in the floor can make it difficult for Popeye to grab Brutus when he eats the spinach, so time travel between levels carefully.