You control the heroic prince Gilgamesh who must attempt to rescue the maiden Ki from the demon Druaga. You are armed with a sword and shield to attack and defend. Find hidden chests (and special items) when special conditions are met, some of which are required to beat the game.
The player must move from floor to floor by finding the key and proceeding to the exit. Enemies are killed by holding down the Sword button and ramming into them. Magic blasts can be blocked with the shield, which stays in front of your character when the sword is not in use.
When your sword is unsheathed, your shield moves from your front to your left side. You can use this to block projectiles coming at you while attacking. This takes a lot of practice to master, though! Also, be sure to get the wing boots on level two by killing all the enemies — it is impossible to beat the game without them.