The game itself depicts a group of skiiers enjoying a day on the slopes. Touch the three numbered targets to light the Extra Ball, roll over the top three lanes to open the ball return gate, and get into the top saucer to slalom downhill for more points. The main attraction, however, is the Ski Jump lane on the left side of the playfield; enter it to vault down the mountain, then demonstrate your athletic prowess by timing your launch for maximum distance and a perfect score.
Among Sega Enterprise's small pinball library, Sapporo is notable for its association with the first Winter Olympics held in Asia. Unfortunately, only a handful of machines remain operational today — one is playable at the Japan Game Museum in Inuyama, Japan, while another is kept at Sega's corporate headquarters and occassionally shown at company exhibitions.
Sapporo demonstrates the following tropes:
- Only One Female Mold: The men come in a variety of shapes, but all of the women skiiers share the same body type.
- The Pratfall: Several of the skiiers suffer various minor pratfalls and tumbles.
- Ramp Jump: The Ski Jump lane. As the ball rolls back down the lane, the player must press the left flipper button to operate the Ski Jump's lower side wall and make the ball touch the farthest of four blue rollover switches.
- Sensual Spandex: All of the skiiers wear full-body suits.
- Spiritual Licensee: Blatantly invoked.
- Writing Around Trademarks: Since Sapporo is not a Olympic Games Licensed Pinball Table, it uses a generic skiing theme to avoid litigation issues. The only nod to the Games is on the backglass, where a woman is prominently featured holding a flaming torch.