Ironsword was developed by Zippo Games which was a development studio under Rare. Acclaim Entertainment acquired the publishing rights, and wanted sequels despite low sales of the game. Ironsword is seen as the most difficult and frustrating game in the series as a result of technical issues.
Kuros, the protagonist of the first game, returns to battle his arch enemy the evil wizard Malkil. Malkil has taken control of the four elemental powers (wind, water, fire and earth) that bind the land. In order to defeat Malkil, Kuros must restore the only weapon that is powerful enough to defeat the wicked Wizard, the Ironsword. However, the lost pieces of the Ironsword is guarded by Malkil in form of the four elemental powers.
Ironsword is for the most part a platformer with role-playing and action elements. The player must use precision jumping skills to navigate through the game. They will occasionally fight enemies and make Kuros stronger, but these elements are not as prevalent as the platforming.
The goal of the game is to collect the four lost pieces of the powerful Ironsword which is needed to defeat Malkil. Each piece is guarded by an elemental power and Kuros must pass through a domain of two stages for each power. In the first stage, Kuros must find an animal king that will help him to next stage if he gives him a golden object that is hidden somewhere in the stage. In the second stage of the domain, Kuros must find a certain magic spell that must be used to defeat the Elemental at the end of the stage.
When all four Elementals are defeated and the Ironsword is reassembled, Kuros can climb the IceFire Mountain for a final confrontation with Malkil. However, the final boss is a battle with the four elements and not a fight with Malkil in his true form.
A shop can be found in every stage where Kuros can buy weapons and items. There is also a Pachinko style mini game in the shop were Kuros can gamble in order to win more gems to use in the shop.