Syder Arcade is a futuristic side-scrolling shooter set in space. It takes place in 2788 near the Human Colony of Miza that has been under attack by unknown invaders for two months. The player is a fighter pilot who takes part in a mission to disrupt the enemy warp routes. The main campaign consists of six missions that need to be unlocked one by one. There is also a survival mode with endless waves of enemies. At the start of a mission the player gets to choose between three types of ships with different characteristics based on speed, armor and weapon types: Alisade S-185 Mule, MSec-Alisade S-104 Dart or MSec S-116 Wasp.
The player steers the ship through an environment with a certain amount of freedom. Levels consist of large horizontal areas. They do not wrap around, but there is a fair amount of room to explore left or right and no vertical scrolling. The overall position can be tracked through a radar in the top right corner. It also shows friendly and enemy units. The classic shooter gameplay consists of taking down various enemies and picking up bonuses they leave behind, including repair, more speed, a better primary weapon, homing missiles etc. The primary gun has an endless amount of bullets. Each ship has a powerful secondary weapon, but its use is limited. A hyper beam bar needs to be filled up before it can be activated. Because of the horizontal level lay-out, the ship is able to flip between facing left or right. Multiple kills increase the score multiplier and special weapons are also charged based on the score.
Next to the modern graphics, the game includes many graphic modes that reference older platforms, such as 2bit, Apple II, VIC-20, C64, Hercules, CGA, EGA, MSX and more.