The game is a multi-directional shooter in the vein of Thrust and Gravitar. The player's craft is subject to inertia but not drag, so to stop moving in one direction it needs to thrust in the opposite way. The constant pull of gravity makes stable flight impossible and steering a skill in itself.
Solar Jetman has twelve planets and one hidden planet, each with its own gravity and system of enemy-infested caverns. The goal is to navigate these caves with small jetpods launched from an immobile mothership, on each world bringing back a piece of the warpship and enough fuel to journey to the next one.