The player controls Pepsiman, who runs and jumps through four 3D stages on urgent missions to deliver Pepsi to thirsty American citizens. In between stages, Mike Butters sits at home guzzling Pepsi and saying wacky slogans (in English with Japanese subtitles).
Pepsiman previously appeared as a Secret Character in the Japanese Sega Saturn version of Fighting Vipers. The surprising resemblance between this game and the first stage of Sonic Adventure 2 is probably coincidental.
Compare Coca Cola Kid, a game for a product from Pepsi's rival company.
This game contains Pepsi and examples of the following tropes:
- 1-Dimensional Thinking: The first chase stage visibly has a good amount of sidewalk space on either side of you that Pepsi Man could have simply moved to, yet he can't. Justified for the rest of the chase stages, since there's little to no room on the sides.
- 1-Up: Collecting 20 Pepsi cans gives an extra life at the of the level (so all 100 in a level gives 5 lives), though on Expert Mode you only get an extra life for each 25 cans.
- And Your Reward Is Clothes: Pepsiman's previous design is an unlockable and you can unlock a wire-frame version of Pepsiman if you collect every Pepsi can in every level. Beat the game on Expert difficulty and you can make Pepsiman straight up turn invisible.
- Bathos: This game does not take itself seriously at all. Between the increasingly absurd situations that require Pepsi, the slapstick situations Pepsiman can be in (such as having a trash bin over his head for part of a level), the live-action cutscenes with intentionally broken English, and other things, the game goes for a more comical approach of its mascot-based nature.
- Beggar with a Signboard: The sidewalk beggars are holding up "Give Me PEPSI" signs.
- The Blank: Pepsiman lacks a face. He's still able to scream at times despite having no mouth.
- Book Ends: The first and last "Boss" is the giant Pepsi can.
- Bottomless Pits: The stages have bottomless pits all over the place, including on city streets.
- Chase-Scene Obstacle Course: Act 3 of each level involves Pepsiman being chased by something and Pepsiman has to navigate through obstacles to survive.
- Checkpoint: All but the running-towards-the-camera scenes have spinning checkpoints. Each one sets the timer to a certain value when you die and restart from there.
- Company Cross References: The man in the cutscenes can be seen eating a bag of Lays potato chips, which are made by Frito-Lay, a subsidiary of PepsiCo.
- The Determinator: Aside from stopping briefly for a Pepsi, or unless you run out of time or lives, pretty much nothing would stop Pepsiman from doing his duty.
- Does This Remind You of Anything?: Subverted with a red truck mercilessly chasing after Pepsiman in one of the stages, which looks suspiciously like Coca-Cola's... until its logo spells out "Red Pizza" for The Reveal.
- Eagleland: The gameplay depicts the beautiful Eagleland which Pepsiman augments, while the FMVs have the stereotypical boorish Eaglelander depicted as fat and gruffy.
- Edible Collectible: Pepsiman collects Pepsi cans he runs into along the way.
- Endless Running Game: Likely the Ur-Example, as it existed long before the genre exploded on smartphones.
- Everything Trying to Kill You: Including countless objects related to the very brand you're working for.
- Funny Foreigner: The reason why Mike Butters was selected to play the Pepsi fan. In Butters's own words, he was trying to invoke Hank Hill.
- Gratuitous English: Between each stage you are treated to a slogan in broken English. Unusual in that it's an American saying them."Pepsi for TV Game"
"Pepsi for Pizza"
"Pepsi: Only My Choice"
- Heads I Win, Tails You Lose: The ending of the second part of Stage 2 has Pepsiman Roofhopping across a series of New York buildings, but the final building has a noticeably larger jump to make. Don't bother jumping and you fall down and lose a life. Press the jump button and Pepsiman... gets halfway across the gap and fails the jump anyway, although this still counts as clearing the level.
- Inconveniently-Placed Conveyor Belt: The first part of the Pepsi Factory area is entirely running along conveyor belts that run in either or neither direction while dodging things sliding along or falling onto them, as well as avoiding the inexplicably placed Bottomless Pits.
- Indy Escape: Every stage ends with Pepsiman running towards the camera away from some unstoppable object, including giant Pepsi cans and the "Cave Pizza" truck (whose logo looks suspiciously like Coca-Cola's) that chases him in one of the commercials.
- Interface Screw: The sequences where Pepsiman gets a garbage can stuck on his head, which inverts the player's right and left controls.
- Iron Butt-Monkey: Pepsiman will always get through hilarious harm from which not even playing perfectly will save him. It's still hilarious as Pepsiman takes it all like nothing, except for a few grunts.
- Just Train Wrong: Despite being set in America, the trains in the subway stage are clearly based on Japanese models, and run on the 1,067mm narrow gauge track commonly used in Japan.
- The San Francisco cable cars are an exception, using the same 1,067mm track gauge as the Japanese railways, yet Pepsi-Man's rendition of the line◊ features horrendously crooked standard-gauge track.
- Level Goal: Scene I of every stage ends at a Pepsi vending machine, and Scene II ends in front of a large thirsty crowd.
- Life Meter: The size of the Pepsi symbol near the number of cans collected indicates how many more hits Pepsiman can take.
- Mercy Invincibility: The usual flashing invincibility from colliding with anything without dying.
- Nintendo Hard: The game's difficulty skyrockets as it goes on. Instant kill hazards become more frequent and good twitch reflexes are increasingly more required.
- No Antagonist: The conflict is Pepsiman trying to make sure the citizens get their Pepsi, and while he runs across various obstacles, none of them are sentient, but things like cars and furniture. Even the bosses are inanimate objects chasing Pepsiman for whatever reason.
- Potty Emergency: The Stinger shows our Pepsi-chugging TV watcher finally getting up off his chair, grabbing his crotch, and running off to the bathroom. And with good reason, as the camera has also zoomed out to show exactly how much Pepsi he drank while he was watching you play through the game. Every surface in his living room is completely covered in empty cans.
- Product Placement: Of course, but unlike other video games with product placement this game takes it to a ridiculous extreme; while most of the levels have a generous amount of Pepsi logos in them, such as in the form of trucks & boxes, the last few levels take place in "Pepsi City", where EVERYTHING has the Pepsi logo on it!
- Rake Take: Except with shovels.
- Roofhopping: Pepsiman hops across roofs in the second stage, though Gameplay and Story Segregation forces him to miss the final jump. Note the player must actually try to jump to complete the stage.
- Serial Escalation: The situations that require Pepsiman grows from refilling a vending machine to helping people on a burning building to helping people who were left stranded in the desert to stopping a computer problem that threatens to cause mass-rioting.
- Serious Business: Pepsi is considered very important in this world, down to having its own city. People drink the stuff enough to cause shortages of it, and then threaten to riot when they can't get it anymore.
- Sigil Spam: Pepsi is everywhere. Pepsi for Everything. Exaggerated in the final level, which is literally Pepsi City.
- Title Scream: Memorably, shouts of "PEPSIMAN!" can be found in abundance throughout the soundtrack.
- Under the Truck: Pepsiman can safely slide underneath a truck due to athleticism and the material of his amazing suit.
- Video Game Dashing: The player can dash to run faster, plow through light obstacles and jump over the larger Bottomless Pits, with a "whoosh" sound effect.
- Video Game Sliding: Pepsiman can glide under obstacles, break through (some) walls and objects, and knock other NPCs out of the way with a powerful slide maneuver.