In this vertical scrolling, shooter game, you pilot a ship that can be augmented by up to three elemental orbs. The elements are 地 (earth), 火 (fire), 風 (wind), and 水 (water). Depending on how you combine the elements determines what style of attack you have available. Most unique combinations of 1, 2, or 3 elements produce a different attack style, and using the best suited weapon for a given situation can help the player considerably. After the opening story animation, there is quite a lengthy description of every combination of orbs showing how the different weapon styles operate. The orbs can also be ejected as a bomb, which covers most of the screen area when used.
Each level has an end boss (and some have a mid-point boss as well) and each boss typically has multiple phases of attack as portions get destroyed.
Your ship gets destroyed any time an enemy shot hits you, you run into an enemy, or you run into a part of the scenery that happens to be at the same height as your ship. Any time your ship is destroyed, the elemental orbs that you were using are scattered on the screen. The screen keeps on scrolling and a new ship reappears after a couple of seconds, if the player has any remaining. If you were not too close to the bottom of the screen, you have a chance to reclaim some or all of the previous elemental orbs. It is also possible to catch a power-up that acts as a shield and allows your ship to take one hit without being destroyed.
The standard game has four difficulty options: Normal, Hard, Super Hard, and Unbelievable. The differences in each difficulty mostly have to do with the number of foes on the screen, number of enemy shots fired, and speed at which the enemy shots fly towards your ship. As the game is completed with the difficulty setting set higher and higher, the ending sequence is more complete. The "Unbelievable" setting is well named.
In addition to the standard game, there is a challenge mode with options for speed and points. The speed challenge times you on how quickly you can attain the target score of 1,000,000 points. The points challenge is a race to see how many points you can score in 2 minutes. Both challenges add an additional orb type that scores points, with each additional orb collected scoring twice as many points as the previous one.
Taken from the manual:
魔法と精霊の世界ジュラー。 ひとりの王の出現以来、ブライズバラ帝国は次々に他国への侵略を始めた。 その野望に抗して立ち上がったのが精霊国家シースフェルである。
シースフェルは精鋭の精霊甲兵部隊に出撃を命じた。 精霊甲兵とは、搭乗者のエレメンタルで精霊の力を利用し、起動する装甲戦士だ。 そんな精霊甲兵の部隊の中で、最強を誇る伝説の戦士、それがスプリガンである。
Break the ambition of Buraizubara with the power of spirit!
Jura, the world of magic and spirits. Ever since the appearance of the King, the Buraizubara Empire began conquering countries, one after another. With great strength of spirit, the nation of Shisuferu stood against their ambition.
Shisuferu ordered their elite squad of Spirit Fighters to launch. The pilots, using their elemental powers, awaken them. The strongest and most proud of these warriors is the Spirit Fighter Spriggan!