John Elway's Team Quarterback
Retro Coin Op Synopsis
It took him 15 seasons of pro football to finally win a Superbowl (and only one more to win another), but even in the early stages of his career, John Elway was one of the brightest stars in the NFL. It was no surprise, then, that the Leland Corporation picked the Broncos quarterback to headline its foray into the world of video sports. John Elway’s Team Quarterback was the premier American football game of its time, an important link between the early Atari Football and later hits like NFL Blitz.
The gameplay was exactly what you would expect from a football adaptation. After selecting a play, you controlled the quarterback on a drive toward the goal line. Standard American football rules and scoring applied, and players switched from offense to defense after every score, turnover, or failure to make a first down. In multi-player versions (up to four players at once), the second player on each team controlled the halfback or receiver, depending on who ended up with the ball.
Aside from the widened play selection, John Elway’s Team Quarterback set itself apart from the pack with two innovations. One was purely technical, but it turned the game into an entirely new challenge. Instead of using a button to throw and kick, this game featured a thin, spring-action joystick. The farther you pulled back, the harder the throw or kick, and the direction of the throw was determined by the direction the stick sprung back into place. It took some practice to master, but the extra control was worth it for many gamers.
The other innovation was one that Leland would duplicate in its later hit ”Ironman” Ivan Stewart’s Super Off Road. Before each game, players entered their initials and birthdates, then selected a home city. If you entered the same information before each game you played, John Elway’s Team Quarterback kept track of your stats—wins/losses, yardage passing/running, completion percentages and more. Sports junkies were ecstatic, and players now had even more incentive to keep coming back for more.
John Elway’s Team Quarterback’s reign as king of the football games didn’t last very long (especially when compared to the career of the man himself), but its unique controls and player memory made it a one-of-a-kind experience for anyone who popped in a quarter.