J-League Prime Goal EX is one of the first football games in Sony's console, following previous appearances in the SNES, Prime Goal is a straightforward action game with simple arcade controls. While the Japanese version features all 14 JLeague teams and fully licensed players, the European version features the same number of national teams with fictional players, all from Europe. Game modes include friendly match, league and cup knockout modes, as well as an all-star game where the player chooses his stars from the best in the selected zone.
Graphically, the game uses a polygonal playing field, while players are represented using sprites, and gameplay features a combination of the face buttons to perform actions (passing, lobbing, shooting, tackling and so on) with shoulder buttons to add swerve to the ball, change team tactics on the fly or pushing the camera backwards to find an open team mate.
While gameplay is fast and simple, it has three quirks: first, unlike most modern offerings, the AI does not set up the target players for passes and crosses, making the player control the target player as soon as the ball is released in order to place them in the best position to complete the play, and also unlike most other games, the players are able to run freely off-bounds, allowing the player to capture a free ball close to the touchlines without risking touching it for a throw-in. The final main gameplay feature can be seen when the ball carrier faces a defender, as the camera quickly changes to behind the forward, as he tries to trick the defender into going the wrong way as the defender tries to steal the ball by predicting where will the forward move, with the winner of the challenge being able to run a few meters unopposed.