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aka: John Elway's Quarterback
Moby ID: 8017
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In John Elway's Quarterback, it's one player vs. the computer or two human players going head-to-head in single-game American football action. Select your team's home city (there is no NFL or NFLPA license, so there are no real teams or players) and then battle the opposing team for four 15-minute (accelerated real-time) quarters. Graphics are simple: one team has blue uniforms, the other team red ones. The human player gets control of the quarterback on offense and the middle linebacker on defense. The play perspective is top-down and vertical-scrolling. Choose from 9 offensive--mostly passing--plays and 6 defensive plays. Teams have 9 players each.

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Credits (Arcade version)

17 People



Average score: 39% (based on 3 ratings)


Average score: 2.2 out of 5 (based on 15 ratings with 1 reviews)

Sometimes the underdog is just a dog.

The Good
The passing system in John Elway’s Quarterback is unique. That could be viewed as an asset, given how video games have a way of copying each other to the point of redundancy. Mind you, it is a tricky system, requiring you to slooowwwwly drag a cursor across the screen to target your intended receiver. This can be quite a challenge at first, seeing as how some very large defensive players will be chasing you down at the same time.

I don’t do multiplayer on console games, but there is a multiplayer option for this game, and I imagine it’s a blast to play against a like-minded 8-bit gamer.

The Bad
It’s worth remembering that John Elway couldn’t win the Big One when this game came out. Clearly this game takes after the young, merely promising Elway, and not the Hall of Fame veteran of the late 1990s.

I am not a graphics freak, but even I have to express disappointment with the look of this game. There is hardly any color variation in this game, with red and blue predominating (except for the green and white playing field). Even worse, the character graphics are extremely blocky and unrealistic-looking. It goes beyond unimpressive and really drags down the whole playing experience. The music and sound are equally bad. It’s not poorly performed, since it basically doesn’t even exist. This is actually one of the quietest games I’ve ever played on any platform. That would be appropriate for chess, but not football.

The passing system, while unique, is also extremely annoying. It’s just too awkward and unnatural-feeling to be an effective football game mechanic. You can’t run the ball, either, so you’re basically stuck with the lame passing mode. Oh, well – the offensive playbook doesn’t offer many running plays anyway. Sadly, the defensive playbook is even skimpier.

Without any real teams, real players, or a playoff mode, you have to wonder why anyone would bother playing this game. It certainly isn’t going to be for the challenge, since it’s extremely easy to beat in solo mode. Which means John Elway’s Quarterback is a charmingly mediocre little football game from the 1980s, so you can take that for whatever it’s worth.

The Bottom Line
John Elway's QB is now a novelty item – a relic of the 8-bit past, and really not much more. Don’t buy it unless you can get it cheap and you have a human opponent to play against.

Last Update: 9-13-2009
Review System: NES Top-Loader (USA-NTSC)
Star Rating: ** (out of five)

NES · by PCGamer77 (3158) · 2009


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  • MobyGames ID: 8017
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Contributors to this Entry

Game added by PCGamer77.

Arcade added by MusicFox. Apple IIgs, Apple II added by hoeksmas. Amstrad CPC, ZX Spectrum, Commodore 64 added by Martin Smith.

Additional contributors: Alaka.

Game added December 31, 2002. Last modified September 1, 2023.