The game is largely a sidescrolling beat-'em-up with some elements of an RPG. Unlike games such as Golden Axe and Streets of Rage, players are unable to move "in and out" of the screen with the and buttons. Instead, they jump between three fixed planes using and , and as such the control scheme is more similar to fighting games like Street Fighter, wherein is jump and is duck.
Some aspects of the game are more RPG-like. At the end of each stage, the player is given options on the direction the story will take. There is a total of 30 levels of which players will see fewer than 10 in a given playthrough, and five possible endings. Defeating enemies gives the players experience which can be spent at the end of each stage on the following: strength (damage done to enemies), vitality (player's health), intelligence (spell strength and radius), mentality (magic points and recovery rate), agility (speed) and luck (modifies damage dealt and received).
Versus mode has up to six players (some can be computer-controlled) fighting each other in an arena. Most characters from the story mode can be used in versus mode, although the player must have encountered them in the game (thereby encouraging multiple playthroughs).
Xbox Live Arcade version
A port of the game was released by Sega for Xbox Live Arcade in Autumn 2011. This version features online play that also allows drop in co-op. Multiplayer mode can go up to four players locally, or up to twelve players online. The gameplay was also rebalanced and retooled to take advantage of the Xbox 360 controller. The translation was also revised as well as featured restored content that was removed from non-Japanese versions of the game. Finally the game features a graphics filter that gives a stylized look to the original low-resolution art of the Sega Saturn original.