The object of the game was for Popeye to collect a certain number of items (24 hearts, 16 musical notes, the letters in the word "help" - depending on the level) while avoiding The Sea Hag, Brutus (Brutus was the character's name in the King Features shorts, not Bluto), and other dangers. The player can make Popeye walk back and forth and up and down stairs and ladders with an 8-way joystick. There is a punch button, but unlike similar games of the period, no jump button. Each level has a can of spinach. If Popeye punches the spinach, he can temporarily turn the tables on Brutus by punching him.