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Hotshot has the player choose a character - A gun-toting humanoid in a spacesuit, an alien with a trunk-like appendage and a robot with a built-in turret - who then enters a series of arenas reminiscent of Breakout and pinball tables in order to defeat their opponent by firing a ball around and scoring more points by destroying blocks and hitting bumpers. They are able to suck in and control the ball with their gun (or mouth, in the alien's case) and their opponent is able to do the same, with control often switching.
The first screen is the Breakout round, where the player must destroy all the blocks without losing control of the ball and hurting themselves. The following rounds are based on pinball and points-scoring, with the final round being a direct one-on-one battle with the opponent.
The game was difficult to control properly and was critically panned as a result.