3D Missile Madness is a 3D clone of the classic Defender style of gameplay. The player's ship can move left or right in order to sweep the extraterrestrial landscape, destroy hostile enemies, and rescue friendlies trapped on the planet surface. Warp points at either end of the plane explicitly warp the player to the opposite side of the field. In an enhancement to the original style of gameplay, 3D Missile Madness also allows the player to move among 3 planes. In fact, all 3 planes must be cleared of enemies before proceeding to the next level.