Stampede is a horizontally-scrolling action game with a cattle round-up theme where the player moves from left to right. The goal is to round up all the cattle by lassoing them without letting more than two pass by. If a third one escapes, the game ends. Although all cattle run in the same direction as the player at a slower pace, the Black Angus calf is an exception. Described as “stubborn,” it remains still, forcing the player to prioritize its capture.
Notably, for every 1,000 points earned, the player gains an additional free pass. For instance, at 2,000 points with no cattle passed, the player can let four cattle go before the fifth ends the game (provided they don’t reach 3,000 points).
This system enables skilled players to continually beat the game since, after about 5,000 points, the game essentially “resets” and repeats the pattern. David Yancey notes a bug in the game that usually limits looping to eight playthroughs. However, a different game version exists with an alternate binary, allowing players to accumulate points until reaching a score of 99,999.