In this game, the player controls SpongeBob's boat and has to finish the course without crashing or hitting any obstacles. The player presses the arrow key to drive forward, presses the down arrow key to reverse, presses the right arrow key to lean forward, and presses the left arrow key to lean back. In total, there are five levels.
The game contains off-screen nodes, which read "GAME," "UI," and "AUDIO." It also contains an asset pre-loader and the dummy leaderboard name "Kaith." They are impossible to be seen without decompiling the game.
The game, as well as its sequels, are notorious for their supreme difficulty, mainly to do with the player's bizarrely floaty physics. This has led to Boat-O-Cross briefly enjoying viral attention.