The cabinet has a three-digit readout of the current player's score and, on later models, a best score of the day readout. The mallet is usually attached to the game by a rope in order to prevent anyone from walking away with it.
Current versions of the Whac-A-Mole include three displays for Bonus Score, High Score as well as current game score. Home versions, as distributed by Bob's Space Racers, include one display to show the current score.
If the player does not strike a mole within a certain time or with enough force, it will eventually sink back into its hole with no score. Although gameplay starts out slow enough for most people to hit all of the moles that rise, it gradually increases in speed, with each mole spending less time above the hole and with more moles outside of their holes at the same time. After a designated time limit, the game ends, regardless of the skill of the player. The final score is based upon the number of moles that the player struck.
In addition to the single-player game described above, there is a multi-player game, most often found at amusement parks. In this version, there is a large bank of individual Whac-A-Mole games linked together, and the goal is to be the first player to reach a designated score, rather than hit the most moles within a certain time. In most versions, striking a mole is worth ten points, and the winner is the first player to reach a score of 150 (i.e., 15 moles). The winner receives a prize, typically a small stuffed animal, which can be traded up for a larger stuffed animal should the player win again.
Game play options have become more adjustable, allowing the operator and/or owner to selectively alter the high score, hits points, rate of progressive speed as well as the game time.