"Attack pattern delta. Go now."
In a series filled with iconic scenes and moments, the Battle of Hoth at the start of The Empire Strikes Back hangs with the best of 'em. After coming off a big win at the end of Star Wars, the Rebel Alliance finds themselves running scared against the still-overwhelming might of the Empire. This battle underscored our heroes' dire circumstances - and their subsequent defeat foreshadowed the dangers they'd soon encounter.
Naturally, a giant land battle involving massive amounts of infantry, vehicles, and aircraft is a prime target for video games. Nearly every Star Wars game released has included Hoth in some form or another - such as a stage in the ill-conceived fighting game Masters of Teras Kasi (opens in new tab). These are the games that let you participate in the Battle of Hoth, whether as the Rebels or Imperials. It's a battle that's been raging on consoles and computers for over three decades, and it'll likely never end.
Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back
Parker Brothers, 1982, Atari 2600
Star Wars' debut on a game console is a fight you cannot win. Your mission is to shoot down as many AT-ATs as possible for points before you either run out of lives or the walkers inevitably reach the shield generator.
Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back
Atari, 1985, Arcade
This abstract, arcade shooter features some interesting firsts for the Battle of Hoth, such as tripping up AT-ATs with tow cables. It also features digitized voices from the movie, though it ends up sounding like every actor was replaced by a Speak & Spell.
Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back
Lucasfilm Games, 1992, NES
This NES platformer introduced combined infantry and vehicular combat on Hoth over a decade before Star Wars Battlefront. You start in a Snowspeeder, and if (when) that crashes, you press on using your lightsaber. You can even grapple up and destroy AT-ATs with grenades.
Super Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back
LucasArts, 1993, SNES
Mode 7 - the faux 3D effect that powered Super Mario Kart, F-Zero, and others - reinvented the Battle of Hoth as a wide open battlefield. AT-STs and and speeder bikes took to the field for the first time, but your biggest challenge was lassoing an AT-AT using the game's awkward camera.
Star Wars: Rebel Assault
LucasArts, 1993, PC
Nothing screams '90s like full-motion video, and Star Wars: Rebel Assault was happy to oblige by turning the Battle of Hoth into interactive cinema. Of course, all that amounts to is a dull, on-rails shooter flying through a blurry .MOV of some AT-ATs.
Shadows of the Empire
LucasArts, 1996, N64
Shadows of the Empire kicked off Star Wars' extremely successful run on the Nintendo 64, opening with an impressive rendition of the Hoth battle on a scale never seen before. The third-person, vehicular combat in this stage eventually inspired another N64 game on this list...
Star Wars Trilogy Arcade
Sega, 1998, Arcade
Sadly, Trilogy Arcade's on-rails action looks better than it plays. All the explosions and TIE Fighters crashing around you seem impressive at first, but once you've mindlessly blasted your way through one stage you've pretty much seen it all.
Star Wars: Rogue Squadron
Factor 5, 1998, N64
Ah, Rogue Squadron, one of the most beloved Star Wars games of the '90s. Building upon the quick, arcade-style combat in Shadows' opening Hoth level, Rogue Squadron wraps a ton of classic Star Wars aircraft around simple-to-use controls.
Star Wars: Force Commander
LucasArts, 2000, PC
Time has rendered Force Commander's clumsy RTS gameplay all but unplayable by modern standards. However, it was one of the first to let players participate in the Battle of Hoth from the Empire's point-of-view.
Rogue Squadron 2: Rogue Leader
Factor 5, 2001, GameCube
Rogue Leader expanded Rogue Squadron's version of the Hoth battle to make it a true showpiece encounter that finally lived up to the size and scale of the movies. This multipart battle has you giving orders to the ground forces, swapping vehicles, and (of course) lassoing AT-ATs.
Star Wars: Galactic Battlegrounds
Ensemble Studios, 2001, PC
Since it's essentially Age of Empires 2 in space, Galactic Battlegrounds is a major improvement over our last RTS entry, Force Commander. You're once again playing as the Alliance, commanding a group of Snowspeeders against an onslaught of Imperial troops.
Rogue Squadron 3: Rebel Strike
Factor 5, 2003, GameCube
After creating the definitive Hoth experience in Rogue Leader, developer Factor 5 decided to get a little weird this time around. In this version of the battle, you control a tiny Luke Skywalker riding around on a Tauntaun while blasting Snowtroopers with impunity.
Star Wars: Battlefront
Pandemic Studios, 2004, Xbox, PS2, PC
While Rebel Strike's on-foot segments are more of a gimmick, Battlefront nailed the combination of ground and vehicular combat all rolled into one. And this time you could jump in on the Imperial side as well and take down Rebel scum from the comfort of an Imperial walker.
Lego Star Wars 2: The Original Trilogy
Traveller's Tales, 2006, Everything
In true Lego fashion, Lego Star Wars 2's rendition of Hoth is a pretty simple shooter where you fly around in a Snowspeeder blasting Imperial walkers. There is a lot of fun to be had with the tow cable this time, including pulling down AT-STs so they land flat on their face, and slingshotting explosive canisters into enemies.
Star Wars: Battlefront 2
Pandemic, 2005, PC, Xbox, PS2
Basically everything you know and love from the last Battlefront's version of Hoth, only this time Darth Vader can take to the field and wreak havoc personally. His inclusion is also the final piece of the Hoth puzzle, as Vader was present during the storming of Echo Base but wasn't playable in previous games.
Star Wars Galaxies
Electronic Arts, 2008, PC
The Battle of Echo Base was an elaborate instance in the MMO Star Wars Galaxies. As was fast becoming the norm, players could enter the fight on either side, with the Rebel Alliance trying to escape certain doom and the Imperials trying to run them down.
Star Wars: The Force Unleashed: Ultimate Sith Edition
Here's a very different take on the battle of Hoth. Continuing the game's Dark Side branch of the narrative, players assault Echo Base as Starkiller, fighting behind the scenes of the main assault. Eventually, you face off against Luke Skywalker himself, drive him to madness, and manipulate him into becoming your apprentice. Canon!
Star Wars Battle Pod
Okay, this thing (opens in new tab) actually looks super fun. True to its name, Battle Pod is a massive arcade pod that you sit inside, complete with a big wraparound monitor and a throttle lever for your ships. And while it is on-rails, the gunplay at least appears to be more involved than, say, Trilogy Arcade.
Star Wars Battlefront
EA DICE, 2014, Xbox One, PS4, PC
We arrive now at Star Wars Battlefront (opens in new tab) - not to be confused with Star Wars: Battlefront, which we discussed earlier. In his review, our own Andy Hartup praised the game, calling it a "beautiful recreation of Star Wars, and a solid if simple shooter." Naturally, the battle of Hoth is one of the game's key locations, bringing the scope of previous Battlefronts to the modern age.