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Battle City takes place from a top-down view and both the AI and player must navigate through the environment to destroy their targets. The game offers semi-destructible environments - the brick walls that make up most of the levels can be destroyed completely allowing you to cut a path to your target. Other non-destructible obstacles such as water (cannot be crossed) and foliage (hiding both your and enemy tanks from view) make up the rest of the environment.
This game can be played 2-player, co-operatively.
Enemies come in waves, and can range from enemy tanks that can be destroyed in one shot to armoured behemoths that take more than several shots to destroy. The game has no boss battles.
The player can completes a level by destroying all 20 enemy tanks on the level or loses the level if they run out of lives, or if an eagle statue (i.e. your base) at the bottom of the map is destroyed by the enemy.
To help defeat the enemy, several temporary powerups can be picked up after destroying foes. These range from invincibility for your tank, invincibility for your statue to extra lives.
Finally, the game also offers a level creator. However any levels created cannot be saved.