Terrorists have raided a U.S. military site; only a man and his robotic car can chase them across the United States to stop their evil plan. A time limit helps put pressure on the player as he attempts to defeat the terrorist forces. KITT has structural shielding; however the vehicle is considered destroyed if it repeatedly crashes or enemy gunfire depletes the shielding. Despite the non-violent premise of the television show, "Mission Mode" makes use of firearms as way to enhance play, similar to RoadBlasters. Shooting non-combatant (blue) vehicles deducts from the timer, making the completion of a level more difficult.
Players can and will lose lives if any of these things happen: running out of gasoline, destruction of the player's vehicle, or if time is allowed to run out. Occasionally, allies will give the player either extra time, extra shields, or extra gasoline. It is important to be able to discriminate between enemies, civilians and allies. Losing lives is possible in both the "normal" and the "drive" mode. Unlike a racing game, speed is not important; instead the emphasis is on being able to make the journey from the start of the level to the end without running out of fuel or having excessive contact with the other vehicles.