The Battle of Hoth is no doubt iconic in film, but in games as well. This scene has been re-created on every console generation since the Atari 2600, except this past one unless you count “Lego Star Wars,” which I am not. This is a look back in time at the Battle of Hoth through the many console generations.
The Atari 2600 version was released in 1982 as the “Empire Strikes Back” released by Parker Bros. it was also released a year later in 1983 for the Intellivision. This was the simplest version, you flew a snow speeder and shot AT-AT Walkers there was only the one level, with minor variations in the background.
The NES version is a big step up. It followed the events of the film and featured more levels as a 2D platformer. The Atari version obviously influenced the NES version but the graphics were much improved and offered much more in terms of gameplay. This version was released in 1992 a full decade later under the title of “Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back”. The Hoth section was a rehash of the Atari version with better graphics.
The SNES version was getting even better and was the first version to make the jump into 3D. You were given a third person perspective behind the speeder and to destroy the AT-ATs you had to use tow cables and fly in circles around them. This version was released as “Super Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back” in 1993, being so close to the NES release you can see how much better the technology was from one console to the next. This one holds a special place for me because I played the hell out of this game when I was a kid.
The Nintendo 64 actually saw two versions of Hoth in both “Shadows of the Empire” and later in the console cycle “Rogue Squadron.” Again this was a huge leap graphically. Rogue is the better looking of the two, and it was also released on PC as “Rogue Squadron 3D.” Since the N64 introduced the joystick into the controller, this was as close as we could get to being in the movies, for the time. Shadows was released in 1996, Rogue in 1998.
The last two on the list are “Rouge Squadron II: Rogue Leader” and “Star Wars: Battlefront” released in 2001 and 2004 respectively. Rogue was released as a console exclusive to the Gamecube and was developed by the same company as previous the Rogue game, Factor 5. It was the best looking this battle ever got. Even by today’s standard the Rogue II and III are still pretty impressive looking. Battlefront introduced the Battlefield formula into Star Wars featuring large multiplayer battles on land and air, it’s sequel Battlefront II was released one year later in 2005.
As a side note: I’m aware that there was a Hoth level technically in the Force Unleashed series. If you don’t fly a snow speeder what’s the point right?
The franchise was published by Lucasarts but a few other companies have worked as developer. The Rouge Squadron series was developed by Factor 5. It’s sequels Rouge Squadron II and III were published exclusively on the Gamecube. Factor 5’s last title was “Lair” known as being a mediocre launch title for the PS3.
Lucasarts officially closed its doors in 2013 following the Disney purchase of the franchise. It had not been truly profitable in a long time and has been plagued by mismanaged and canceled projects. Disney then said EA would be publishing future Star Wars titles. Dice, “Battlefield” developer is working on Star Wars: Battlefront and will be out in November of this year. We will all be flying snow speeders again before we know it.