Kaiser Knuckle follows the same fighting game conventions established by Street Fighter II. The player's character fights against his or her opponent in best two-out-of-three matches in a single player tournament mode with the computer or against another human player. The player has a character roster of nine fighters to choose from, and three bosses, each with their own unique fighting style and special techniques. The control layout is set to the six-button standard (a la most Capcom fighting games), but it can be switched to a five-button layout via dip settings. One unique feature is that Kaiser Knuckle was the first and only fighting game that has five strengths of basic attacks.
Another unique feature is that it introduced the power zones, which can be utilized via a successful hit of a special move when a player's "Crush Meter" is full. The power zones (either fire or electric) can affect the certain special move a character has. Backgrounds can be destructible when players get hit to charge up, and when those meters are full, the next special move that a player connects with his/her opponent will destroy the background's properties at will (other parts of stages, such as floors and walls are also destructible).