Released during the early fighting game craze, Schmeiser Robo has players fighting one-on-one matches in manned humanoid mechs (known as "Walkers"). Some notable gameplay mechanics include a dedicated guard button (with some special techniques utilizing it, including the first use of parries) and the "Fighting Rate" system (an alternate scoring system that rises and falls throughout each match).
Schmeiser Robo plays like most other fighting games at the time and uses a three-button control system: A for punch attacks, B for kick attacks, and C for guarding against attacks.
In addition to special guarding techniques, the game is notable for allowing shorter jumps by quickly tapping the joystick and for allowing simple chain combos (as players can cancel standing punches into a follow-up punch and can cancel standing kicks into a follow-up kick).
Guarding attacks is different from most other traditional fighting games of the era (where players hold backward on the joystick while the opponent attacks). Similar to the 1992 game Mortal Kombat, players have a dedicated button that can be held down to perform a blocking stance, even if the opponent is not attacking. Holding the joystick downward while guarding performs a crouching guard, and holding the button while jumping allows players to perform an air guard (one of the earliest known games to do so).
Unique to this game are two abilities that can be performed while in a blocking stance (but not in blockstun): being able to walk forwards and backwards while standing, and being able to cancel into quick attacks. Attacks made while guarding deal less damage and have shorter reach (similar to "light attacks" of other fighting games) and cannot be cancelled into combos. In addition, players cannot attack during an air guard.
Schmeiser Robo is the first known game that allows players to parry attacks by tapping the C button at the right moment, negating the blockstun and allowing time for a swift counter-attack.
In addition to standard player scoring, Schmeiser Robo features a unique system known as "Fighting Rate", which determines the player's efficiency in regards to special techniques (chain combos, parries, and special moves). These utilize a separate high score table and is meant to be used to show efficiency in player-vs-player matches (although it is still tracked for single-player matches).
Each player starts with 300 FR and gains a certain amount for landing each technique, with the opponent losing that same amount. The amount is determined by two factors:
- The type of technique used. Chain combos give the highest amount (with a base value of 5), while parries give the lowest amount (with a base value of 1).
- The opponent's current FR. Opponents with a higher FR increase the amount, while opponents with a lower FR decrease the amount (down to a minimum of 1).
Player opponents retain the same FR through continues, while each computer opponent starts all matches with 500 FR.
The game includes eight playable Walkers and one unplayable boss Walker. When players perform a mirror match, the Walker that was chosen second (with an alternate color scheme) is instead piloted by tiny comical robot egg Copyrobo (who has its own unique story cutscenes, if players progress with it after defeating their opponent).
- Schmeiser - Standard humanoid robot. Piloted by Hiro of Team Prolog.
- Gaudy - Standard humanoid robot and palette swap of Schmeiser. Piloted by Lu Wang of Team Zennon.
- Grimm - Gorilla-like robot with large arms. Piloted by Virtual of Team Works-Melbron.
- Walkyrie - Feminine robot with long spiky hair. Piloted by Lana of Team Midi-Nitorën.
- Siemens - Robot with oversized armor guards for arms and legs, able to curl up into a single armor guard. Piloted by Jay of Team Saxon-Kpuppe.
- CW-4 Axe - Insect-like robot with six arms. Piloted by Wyatt of Team Freedom-Spirits.
- Dotoh-Maru - Robot that resembles a traditional ninja, fighting with a katana and dagger. Piloted by Doug of Team Upic-Ninja.
- Dali-Dali - Bizarre robot who fights up-side down, held up by ball-and-chain hands. Piloted by Dali-Dali of Team Dali-Dali.
- Celberus - Mysterious robot with supernatural agility and the game's unplayable final boss. Piloted by Z'Hell of Team Zone.