The object of the game was for Popeye to collect a certain number of items (24 hearts, 16 musical notes, or the letters in the word "help" - depending on the level) while avoiding the Sea Hag, Brutus / originally Bluto (Brutus was the name given to the character in the King Features cartoon series, Popeye the Sailor) and other dangers. The player can make Popeye walk back and forth and up and down stairs and ladders with an 8-way joystick. There is a punch button, but unlike similar games of the period, no jump button. (Conversely, Brutus can jump down a level and also jump up to hit Popeye if he is directly above.) Each level has a can of spinach. If Popeye punches the can, he becomes temporarily invincible and can knock out Brutus just by running into him; although after a few seconds Brutus will swim back out and be ready for action again.
In Round 1 (the dock scene) of each three-round cycle is a punching bag, which Popeye can use to knock loose a nearby barrel from its position near the top of the playing field. If the barrel falls onto Brutus' head, the player earns bonus points (based on where Brutus was attacked) and renders Brutus harmless for several seconds.
Otherwise Popeye's attacks did nothing to his nemesis; although the attack button did destroy items that could hurt Popeye such as bottles, vultures and skulls.
Other licensed Popeye characters in the game are Olive Oyl, Swee' Pea, and Wimpy, though they are mostly decorative and do not add heavily to the gameplay. Wimpy appears in Round 2 (the street scene) on one end of the see-saw in the lower left corner of the field, to act as a counterweight. Swee' Pea floats high above, with bonus points to be earned if Popeye can spring off the see-saw and touch him.
In 2008, Namco Networks released an enhanced remake for mobile phones. The game plays largely the same, though it features an Enhanced mode in addition to the arcade original, which includes a bonus stage and an extra level which pays homage to the short A Dream Walking where Popeye must save a sleepwalking Olive, as well as some trivia segments. In the game it is possible to earn tokens, which can be used to buy some of the old comic strips
Source: Wikipedia, "Popeye (video game)," available under the CC-BY-SA License.