Time Soldiers can be played by either a single player, or by two players simultaneously. Players move their characters with an eight-way rotary joystick, shooting enemies along a scrolling backdrop. The rotary joystick allows to walk in one direction while shooting in another (like in another popular SNK game, Ikari Warriors).
The plot involves the protagonists traveling through time to rescue their comrades. Each of the five levels is set in a different time period; The Primitive Age, The Age of Rome, The World Wars, The Age of War and Future World. Unlimited continues are available on all levels except the last.