The game stars Popeye on a quest to find 25 hearts and bring them back to Olive Oyl, across a seaside town environment made up of several linked screens. Asked by King Features to make the characters look very much like the ones in the comics, programmer Don Priestley found himself constrained by the Spectrum's single-color sprites. His solution was to build every character by joining several differently-colored sprites together, making them large and colorful, but also causing them to take up a big portion of the screen.
In order to provide enough movement space, a system is used where many of the game's various screens have two or more "layers", invisible to the player, that Popeye can traverse by moving up or down. The player is clued as to Popeye's position by the structures he can or cannot move over. Popeye also has the ability to climb ropes and stairs, and must avoid the Sea Hag, Bluto and the Sea Hag's vultures, which roam the area going from screen to screen. Spinach cans function as extra lives in this game, helping Popeye get back to his feet when he is defeated.
- Popeye at GameFAQs