While the game was advertised as the movie tie-in, the game's stucture and plot are very different to the events of the actual film. Willow travels alone, only occasionally encountering familiar characters from the movie. Willow also sports a sword and shield, instead of his walking stick and seen in the movie, and on the cover of the game.
The game's layout and over-head style is very similar to The Legend of Zelda, but it has several traditional RPG elements, not unlike Final Fantasy, or Dragon Warrior as seen on the system.
When Willow destroys enemies, he gains experience points. When he earns enough points, he will gain a level. When he does, his stats will increase in categories such as Strength or Magic, making him more powerfull. Willow can also find newer and more powerfull swords and shields, which do more damage and block attacks respectively. Throughout the adventure, Willow will be taught new magic spells by various sages and spellcasters. These include the familiar Magic Acorns, and the not-so familiar heal spell, and lightning bolt.