Gold Miner Joe is a side-scrolling arcade game with an 8-bit style. In the game, players must control Miner Joe and collect gold in different locations. There are enemies that the player will encounter along the way, so players must be careful when controlling Miner Joe. The game can be played with the keyboard. The character can be controlled using the arrow keys. Players also have weapons for beating enemies. There is also a dynamite for stronger enemies and enemies who come in groups that are hard to beat with a single weapon. At first, the levels in the game are easy to beat the game gets harder as the player progresses. When there are no more lives remaining, the player must replay the game.
Gold nuggets are scattered on each game level and the goal is to collect them while avoiding enemies that are moving around. There are different game levels with various contraptions, objects, and settings. On the upper portion of the game window, players can view the number of lives they have remaining. As well as the amount of gold nuggets and have collected, the number of dynamites they still have, and the number of points they have for the level.