Car Battler Joe is a bizarre blend of Japanese role-playing and car combat. Half of the game is played in a typical 3/4 view as you run around, talk to people, buy and sell items, and progress the story. But instead of turn-based battles against scores of enemies, you take your car (outfitted with weapons and armor of your choosing) and drive around Mode 7 style levels shooting enemies and picking up the gold and parts they drop.
In some ways the combat plays out like a simpler version of Vigilante 8 or Twisted Metal, bookended by RPG elements.
As he progresses through the story, earns respect and finds out about his father, Joe ends up with a ridiculously powerful vehicle that's capable of taking down most of his opponents without much trouble.
His vehicle can be outfitted with several classes of weapons with various attributes - some are auto targeting, some require manual aim, only fire backwards, drop mines, etc. The customization allows each player to tailor Joe's car to their own style of play, whether that involves driving straight in with guns blazing or teasing opponents out into the open and ambushing them.