Note: The controls presented here are specifically for the NES version of the game, but are generally applicable to every version, including the arcade.
- : Direct Dana to run to the left.
- : Direct Dana to run to the right.
- : Direct Dana to jump up into the air. Dana can jump a little more than the height of one block.
- : Direct Dana to squat low to the ground. Can be used in conjunction with or to make Dana crawl slowly across the ground.
- : Press the A button to make Dana use his wand. If Dana swings his wand in an empty space, a block will be created. If he swings his wand on a block, the block will be destroyed. Use in conjunction with to create or destroy blocks at Dana's feet.
- : Press the B button to make Dana use his fire magic. If Dana has any fireballs stored on his magic scroll, then pressing B will make Dana send out a fireball in whichever direction he is facing. One fireball will be removed from his scroll.
- : Start a new game or pause the action mid-game.
- : Unused.
The goal of every stage is to find a way to, first, collect the key, and second, reach the open door. Of course, it's never as easy as it sounds. You must avoid all kinds of enemy obstacles, projectiles, and complex level layouts in order to provide Dana with a safe path that allows him to achieve these goals. Dana's ability to create and destroy blocks will be at the core of every strategy that you employ to help Dana achieve his goal.
In addition to the normal stages, there are hidden bonus stages as well, 7 in the arcade and 12 on the NES and SMS versions. To access the hidden stages in the console versions, you must find and collect the zodiac symbols. However, to access hidden stages in the arcade, you must use your wand on specific keys. If you use it at the right time, the key will turn from a red or green key, into a blue key. If you touch the blue key, it will open the door as usual, but when you enter it, it will take you to an alternate stage.
- Dana is an exceptionally good jumper. He can jump at least two blocks ahead, and a little higher than the height of one block. In this manner, he can jump on top of a block that is one block higher than him and two blocks away. He can also jump on top of a block that is three blocks away at the same height as his starting point if he stands on the edge of the initial block.
- You can maneuver Dana with a good degree of freedom as he falls through the air. Direct Dana where you would like him to fall. While he is falling you can also use the wand to slow your descent. Continuously use the wand in mid-air, and Dana will pause mid-fall. He will quickly resume his fall as soon as you stop using the wand, but you can use this technique to avoid landing on a monster that is passing beneath you.
- Last but not least, Dana can break blocks that are immediately over his head by jumping into them. He must do this two times in order to break them completely; the first hit merely fractures the block. Fractured blocks have no special properties. Use the head break technique when you want to remove a block that is preventing your from jumping higher.
- Dana's biggest asset in his attempts to complete each stage is his ability to create and destroy blocks with his wand. Whenever Dana uses his wand in an empty space, a block will appear. If Dana uses his wand on an existing block, that block will disappear.
- Naturally, this trick only works on the stony blocks that are equivalent to the kind that the wand makes. You cannot, in any way, modify or remove the gray cement blocks that compose sections of many stages. They are permanent and must be worked around. In some hidden stages, however, certain gray blocks may be removed with the wand.
- Dana can create blocks in places other than just in front of him. He can create/destroy blocks in mid-air by jumping. He can create/destroy blocks at his feet by kneeling. He can even create or destroy blocks that are two spaces over by stepping off the edge of one block, such that his wand is practically in the next space. The only place that Dana can't create or destroy blocks is directly above or beneath him.
- Dana has the ability to throw fireballs at his enemies. However, in order for him to do this, he must first collect the jars that contain the magic of fire. Every time he collects a jar, a flame spell is added to his scroll until his scroll has no more room for additional spells. (The scroll can be extended to contain more fire magic if the right item is collected.)
- When Dana uses fire magic, a flame is removed from his scroll. The flame will them fly along until it hits a surface. At that time, the flame will travel around the edge of whatever surface it touched until it runs out of power and dissipates. Certain items can be collected that can extend the duration of Dana's fire magic so that they travel farther before running out.
- Dana can throw two different types of fireballs. The normal fireball will continue to travel until it runs into one enemy. As soon as the fireball and enemy collide, the fireball is no more. A super fireball, on the other hand, will continue to travel even after it has hit an enemy until it runs out of power. Super fireballs can be used to kill multiple enemies that are within range of one another.
- Be careful using fireballs when faeries are around. If a fireball hits a faerie, the faerie will be destroyed.
Throughout the game, there are faeries trapped in nearly every stage. You can rescue them, but only if you find and collect certain bells. Collecting a bell notifies a Faerie that you are in the room and that it's safe to come out. When a Faerie hears a bell, it will fly out through the stage door and begin hovering around. It will make an attempt to reach you if possible.
In the arcade version there is a second type of bell, made of gold, that attracts a white Faerie. These Faeries are worth more points and travel faster, but gold bells are hard to find. Every time you collect a Faerie, your fairy count increases by one. If you manage to collect 10 Faeries, Dana is granted an extra life, so it's worth collecting as many as possible.
There are two other types of Faeries that are found in the game. Children Faeries (shown on the left) are typically encased within blocks as soon as you arrive at particular stages. They are worth the least amount of points, but they still count towards your fairy total, so collect them if you can free them. The very last Faerie that you will encounter is the Faerie Princess (shown to the right). She was captured voluntarily so that she could guard the seal and ensure that someone like Dana would come along and close it properly.