Let’s take a look at video games’ favorite scene from the Star Wars series: the battle of Hoth. Developers have been trying for over 30 years to get it right.
Which is your favorite?
This story originally appeared on Kotaku in May 2010.
1982: The Atari 2600 presents The Empire Strikes Back with the abstract-painting level of technology gamers were stuck with back then.
1985: Atari’s follow-up to the 1983 Star Wars Arcade Game, The Empire Strikes Back, used vector graphics to recreate the epic battle.
1992: The Empire Strikes Back for the Nintendo Entertainment System. Hoth’s looking good here. Impressive snow-speeder turning radius
1993: What a difference a year makes. Let’s take it to the Super Nintendo for some Super Empire Strikes Back. This is, I believe, the least-authentic Hoth level we’ve seen in a game. Or were there actually floating hearts in the movie and I missed them? (Warning: NSFW language in this clip.)
1993: This year also saw the release of Star Wars: Rebel Assault for the PC, Sega CD, Mac, and 3DO, the first CD-only game published by LucasArts, with one of the best looking on-rails Hoth battles to date.
1996: Here we see Snow Speeders battling AT-ATs in one of the first Nintendo 64 games, Star Wars: Shadow of the Empire. Note the verrry simple radar. But I remember this level blowing my mind. It was like I was playing the movie!
1997: And then there was Star Wars: Masters of Teras Kasi, a fighting game that featured a Hoth stage.
1998: Sega’s Star Wars Trilogy Arcade marks Hoth’s return to the arcade, keeping the action on rails but filling in the wire frames.
1999: Back to the Nintendo 64, three years later. This is Star Wars: Rogue Squadron. The AT-ATs look better. The radar is way better. And we’ve got some voice acting.
2000: Luxoflux of Vigilante 8 fame developed Star Wars: Demolition, a vehicular combat game that featured the Hoth battle as a backdrop to fights between “vehicles” like Boba Fett and the Rancor.
2001: New console. Nintendo GameCube. But same development studio as the previous one, the now-defunct Factor 5. This is video game Hoth and this is a leap up.
2001: And who can forget the real-time strategy take on Hoth from Star Wars: Galactic Battlegrounds?
2003: Factor 5 does Hoth again, and does it with Luke on foot and on Tauntaun. Madness.
2004: First Star Wars Battlefront. Hoth on foot. On Xbox, PS2, PC
2006: But what if Hoth was a Lego playland? What if the battle there was just a tad more cheerful? Lego Star Wars II: The Original Trilogy answers those questions.
2006: In the same year, we had Star Wars Battlefront II doing Hoth on foot.
2008: The Battle of Echo Base went massively multiplayer as an instance in Sony Online Entertainment’s Star Wars Galaxies.
2009: The Hoth expansion for Star Wars: Force Unleashed takes the battle to a more personal level.
2015: Disney Infinity’s Battle of Hoth surprisingly features one of the better control methods yet seen for keeping your speeder steady while flying around a walker’s legs.
2015: EA’s Star Wars: Battlefront brings us the most “realistic” version of Hoth yet.