Working feverishly away for the last few months in a small studio in Bristol, England - games developer FluffyLogic has been bringing to life a digital recreation of the classic battle for Hoth from Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back. "Back in December 2009 we were contacted out of the blue by a representative of THQ about what we'd do with the Star Wars universe to play in, " says the games producer Ana Kronschnabl, "It took about 5 seconds to pick our favourite scene from the pantheon of the films. We all grew up with Episodes to IV to VI, so doing the battle of Hoth was always top of our list."
The developer has been working closely with THQ and Lusas Arts to create a strategy game in the Tower Defense genre of game, titled, Star Wars: The Battle for Hoth. "This game focuses on one of sci-fi's most epic battles," says the games designer Tomas Rawlings, "it is epic because it has got it all - conflict, heroism, a back-against-the war struggle, cool military technology, good vs evil and of course AT-ATs." The game give the player 15 levels in 2 gameplay modes all set around the famous battle on the ice planet. The game features all of the classic units that fans of the film will immediately recognise; AT-ATs, Snowspeeders, Snowtroopers and the trenches and guns of the Rebel defences.
"One thing that player may not have seen is the more varied landscape of Hoth," notes Ana, "when it was filmed 30 years ago, they used Norway to get that stark white battlefield. But later information published about the planet noted that it had other facets to it - volcanoes, ice-forests and algal blooms. We've used this as inspiration to vary the landscape a little more."
The developers have good pedigree of making Tower Defense titles - having done past games on PS3 and PSP that were well-received both critically and in popularity. "We had a good range of development experience to draw upon for the title, but at the same time we had to learn a lot, " comments Tomas, "the touch-screen is a great way of interacting with a strategy game but it requires a totally new approach to user-interface and HUD. It's been a good challenge getting what we feel is right by the gameplay - I hope players will agree with us."
The title also draws of the talent of Armin Elsaesser as sound designer. Armin (who uses the stagename 'Parasite') has been making a name for himself after getting nominated for the prestigious Ivor Novello awards. 2010 was the first year the awards for music composition were opened up to games - and Armin was one of three nominated for an award.
The title also manages to coincide with the 30th anniversary of The Empire Strikes Back. May 21st 1980 saw the original release. The film was one of the highest grossing films of 1980 and has grown in reputation over the years to become of the the most loved of all the Star Wars pantheon. "When we were asked to do a game based in the Star Wars universe, we felt really honoured - that this was a great opportunity and that we had to handle the ideas with care," says producer at FluffyLogic, Ana Kronschnabl, "The 30th anniversary was important to us - it felt like this would be our tribute to a film that we've grown up with."
"In another 30 years I think we'll still be celebrating The Empire Strikes Back." says Tomas, "Yes the platform will again be different; it might be a super-virtual reality version of the game where we actually feel the cold of Hoth and involuntarily duck as Snowspeeders scream overhead – the the story of the film is a universal one that has become so engrained in our culture that it will endure as long as we do."
General Information Star Wars: The Battle for Hoth is a game for both iPhone and iPod. It is a tower defense strategy game; such games have the player placing defensive units to stop waves of enemy units from exiting the level. The game sees the player taking the role of commander of the Rebel forces trying to stop Imperial forces from reaching the main shield generators before the evacuation of Hoth is complete. As the game progresses new units for both the Rebel forces and the Imperial attackers are introduced. The game has 2 difficulty settings - easy and normal, plus comes with a help and unit guide.
Gameplay The player begins each level with a set amount of Command Points. The player 'spends' these by choosing a unit type and selecting where on the level to build them. Each unit can also be upgraded for additional Command Points. Upgrades add to a units power - depending on the unit type - increasing aspects such as range and damage. The player can also change the targeting orders for units - tell them to prioritise ground/air units or stronger/weaker units (though not all Rebel unit types can target flying units). This can be done on an a single unit or for all units at once. The player can also build trenches to both funnel the Imperial forces into kill-zones and to position infantry who gain extra protection once inside. Except for infantry, Rebel units require a power supply to operate.
Imperial forces emerge from staging areas to the left of the map and proceed to try to exit the level on the right, to damage the main shield generators. Once too much damage has been done to the main shield generators, the player has failed the level and must replay to progress. The various Imperial units do different amounts of damage to the main shield generators.
Battlefield The game is set on the planet of Hoth - it features 15 levels. Initially each level is played in 'Classic Mode'. In this mode once the player's defenses have destroyed each group of Imperial attackers, a Command Points bonus token is left behind. By touching these the player can collect them and earn additional Command Points. If the player collects multiple tokens with a single sweep of the finger, bonus Command Points are awarded. However, leaving Command Points bonus tokens risks the value of them degrading over time.
Once a level has been completed in 'classic mode', it is available to play again in 'Fortress Mode'. In this mode the player get a larger starting pool of Command Points, but does not gain any additional during the game. The player collects Score Points bonus tokens instead which add to the player final score.
Unit List • Soldier – A basic infantry unit armed with a blaster rifle. This unit requires no additional power but is vulnerable to heavy fire. Place in trenches to improve their defensive capabilities. Can only target ground units. • Heavy Weapon Soldier - A solider armed with a powerful repeating blaster. This unit requires no additional power but is vulnerable to heavy fire. Place in trenches to improve their defensive capabilities. Can target ground and air units. • Power Generator – Provides all units within range with an energy supply. • 1.4 FD P-Tower Laser Cannon – High damage ground-to-ground combat weapon. Can only target ground units. • DF.9 Anti-Infantry Battery Tower – Effective against infantry, but vulnerable to larger units. Can target ground and air units. • Ion Cannon – High power consumption but very powerful weapon. Can target ground and air units. To vehicles the ion-impact disrupts the electrical systems slowing the unit down. To infantry the heat of the impact can kill. • Snowspeeder Control Tower - Launches a single Snowspeeder which completes it's attack run before returning to the base. Can only target ground based units. • X-wing Control Tower - Launches a single X-wing fighter which completes it's attack run before returning to the base. Targets only air units. • Energy Shield Generator - Generates a localised Energy Shield that protects all Rebel units within its range. If the Energy Shield collapses, the generator unit is destroyed. Imperial Units • Viper Probe Droids – Fast but with weak armour, these units are used by the Imperial forces as cannon fodder. • Scout Trooper – Fast but vulnerable infantry. These troops are the advance of the main force. • Snowtroopers – Elite infantry trained to fight on any world. Deployed in large numbers to hammer at enemy defenses. • 74-Z Speeder Bike - Often used as a scouting unit or for rapid attack. This air unit is fast speed with weak armour. • AT-ST Walker - A fast walker with medium armour. Designed for hit and run attacks on enemy defenses. • TIE Fighter – The main multi-role space fighter of the Imperial forces. This air unit is also used to attack ground targets. • AT-AT Walker – Huge, heavily armoured walkers that are deployed to smash foes into submission either by being shot or crushed. These units ignore trenches and can crush all in their path. • Command Units - 'Boss' versions of existing units but much stronger and tougher. Concentrate your fire at them to stop their advance.
UPDATE: We've added video to this news post from late May 2010.
UPDATE #2: SW.com offers up a player's guide for The Battle of Hoth which breaks down various aspects of the game. Hints and tips can be viewed below but make sure to click here for the full guide.
"Hints and Tips Here are some hints and tips to help you command your forces on Hoth:
•Placement of units is key; look to see where the Imperial units are moving, build trenches to funnel them and place combat units to shoot at them where they are less able to shoot at you.
•Protect your better units by placing cheaper units in front of them to act as a screen to soak up Imperial fire.
•Concentrating your fire is a good strategy as it can kill the Imperial units before they have a chance to return fire.
•Touch the next wave icon (bottom-left of screen) to see the next unit types that will attack and build your defences appropriately.
•Build X-wing units on levels with lots of TIE fighter attacks.
•Once your units become critically damaged, sell them before they are killed so you can recoup some of the Command Point costs of building them.
•Ion cannons are great -- especially when upgraded -- so make use of them!
•Building long chains of trenches is a great way of slowing faster moving units like speeder bikes.
•AT-ATs are large powerful units; but they do have weaknesses; Build snowspeeder towers and upgrade to level 4 -- they are then able to use their tow-cable against the AT-ATs. In addition, place units in their targeting blind-spots during the battle."