Hoth in Video Games: A Thirty-Year Battle

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.

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1982: The Atari 2600 presents The Empire Strikes Back with the abstract-painting level of technology gamers were stuck with back then.

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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.