The gameplay is similar to Sega's Turbo, but plays at a much slower pace, and features platform game elements. The penguin, later named Penta, must reach the next station before time runs out while avoiding sea lions and breaks in the ice. Throughout the levels, fish jump out of ice holes and can be caught for bonus points. The game, like many early video games, has no ending – when the player reaches the last station, the game starts from the first level again, but with increased difficulty.
Antarctic Adventure was followed by a sequel for the MSX computer in 1986, entitled Penguin Adventure. In addition, the penguin character Penta, and his son Pentarou became a mascot for Konami through the 1980s. They have made appearances in over 10 games. Of particularly note are his appearances in the Parodius series of shoot 'em up games.