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John Elway’s Quarterback

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Released: 1989

Genre: Sports

Format reviewed: NES/Famicom

Publisher: Tradewest

Developer: Rare

Submitted by: Mr. Retro Sports

Despite previous ports already on the Amstrad GPC, Commodore 64, and the ZX Spectrum, Tradewest’s 1989 NES release of John Elway’s Quarterback was plagued with a lack of features and game play resulting in one of the worst sports titles I’ve ever played.

Essentially a multiplayer arcade experience, John Elway’s Quarterback is devoid of any difference between the teams selected. All games have the same look with red and blue teams, regardless of which city you are playing as. There are no stats, player ratings, timeouts or even an ability to pause the game. The single player campaign on the NES is literally playing the same team (New York, or if you are New York – San Francisco) over and over. It’s the worst I’ve ever seen in a sports title.

The game does feature a unique passing system with the player moving an arrow to aim a pass while trying to avoid a huge pass rush. JEQ also gives players the ability to reverse an offensive play – doubling the nine-play playbook. The CPU’s A.I. leaves a lot to be desired as it constantly throws interceptions and is extremely repetitive in its play selection. The game also boasts a special “glitch” play where the ball handler is extremely fast, making both single and multiplayer games lopsided when the trick is abused.

Sadly, while decent on other platforms, the NES version of this game is a lazy, mailed-in effort by Tradewest.