When we first heard that there was a tower defense game in the works based on not only the best entry in the original Star Wars trilogy, but also a movie that is so good that it ranks in at #10 in the IMDB Top 250, it was hard to not get excited. After all, the entire battle on the ice planet Hoth seemed to make quite possibly the perfect scenario for a tower defense game, especially when you throw in heaps of Star Wars fan service in to the mix. After spending the day playing Star Wars: Battle for Hoth [$2.99], I'm happy to report that Battle for Hoth is a competent tower defender, with quite a few good ideas. Unfortunately, it's also lacking in some areas, which may or may not concern you depending on your level of obsession with the Star Wars universe.

First of all, from a Star Wars nerd perspective, it's hard to imagine a better iPhone game. Carving out trenches in the snowbanks of Hoth to position units and drive all the completely recognizable Imperial troops through your maze of defenses is really awesome, especially as you progress enough through the game to where you're battling AT-AT's and have access to the full arsenal of defenses. Brief clips of Empire Strikes Back play between levels, and as mentioned before, the entire scenario laid out in the movie is a great premise for a tower defense game.

Battle for Hoth works like other tower defense games, which by now I'd think everyone who reads this site with any regularity would at least be vaguely familiar with. It improves upon this gameplay formula in a number of ways, the first being trenches. Instead of needing to funnel the incoming enemy troops around by building rows of towers, you can dig trenches in the snow, which barely cost you any of your command points, the resource used in game to buy more defenses. When you place units inside of these trenches, they get a defensive bonus, which is important as the incoming Imperial forces won't just be blindly walking past, they will also be firing at you-- Often destroying your defenses in the process.

The way the command points are handled is pretty cool too. Instead of the way most tower defense games work where you're just awarded whatever resource you use to buy defenses when enemies die, you have to actively tap on the little command point icon which is dropped by the last enemy in the wave. This forces you to pay attention, and continually pan around the battlefield to not miss command points, which could have vital consequences if you find yourself short to buy additional or upgrade your existing units. I found myself feeling like I was "playing" the game much more than your typical tower defense game, as odd as that is to say, because I couldn't just upgrade my towers and put my phone down while the next few waves of guys get slaughtered before I have to do anything.

My absolute favorite feature of Star Wars: Battle for Hoth is the level of control that you have over each of your units. Instead of your typical tower defender where your defenses blindly fire on the first unit, with some games allowing you to target a specific unit, Battle for Hoth allows you to tweak the targeting of all of your defenses. For instance, you can toggle whether they attack the weakest or strongest unit first, whether they should prioritize ground or air units, and this can be done both globally as well as on a per-unit basis. If you like this level of micromanagement, you will have a load of fun with Battle for Hoth.

Later in the game as you get access to more and more advanced defenses, you will need to build and protect power generators to supply power to stronger weapons, and there's even a second game mode. In fortress mode, you start each map with a fixed amount of command points, and you must plan ahead and use those command points wisely to be able to survive the level. It's an interesting spin on things, as it really forces you to analyze what the best bang for your proverbial buck is and whether or not you should build more units, focus on upgrades, or a mixture of the two.

Unfortunately, with all this good comes some bad as well. The interface of Battle for Hoth feels a little clunky. To place units, you drag them from the toolbars which line the top and right side of the screen. Units are placed under your finger tip, which really makes things feel extremely inaccurate as I'd much prefer they were offset above my finger instead of relying on the weird crosshair system they have currently implemented which just draws a horizontal and vertical line intersecting with your finger to line things up. In a tower defense game where you need to lay out defenses to route enemy troops around, you need to be able to position them exactly where you need them to go. I felt like I was accidentally placing things in the wrong spot far too often, forcing me to sell them at a loss and try again.

Overall the graphics of the game just seem lackluster. The animations of the various Rebel and Imperial units seem very basic, and while they certainly get the job done, Battle for Hoth barely compares to games like Fieldrunners in the art department. The sound effects and music get a little repetitive too, as you will need to get very used to hearing the same old blaster sound over and over. Also, I would have loved to have the original John Williams soundtrack (or at least parts of it) in game instead of the current background music which seems a little out of place.

Still, for three bucks, Star Wars: Battle for Hoth is one of the cheapest things to sport a Star Wars license that I can think of. It's a competent tower defense game, and I really don't think the things I perceive as negatives to the game would be as much of an issue if the entire genre wasn't so incredibly mature on the App Store. There are some absolutely fantastic tower defense games out there with highly refined controls, expertly balanced difficulty, tons of content that has been added through (in some cases) years of updates which make the rough edges on newcomers like Battle for Hoth stick out like a sore thumb.

At the end of the day, while there are better tower defense games on the App Store, this is the only one where you can battle waves of AT-AT's, which is likely worth the price of admission alone for most.

TouchArcade Rating

  • http://RKRigney.com Ryan Rigney

    Excellently written review. I'm really disappointed to hear that the graphics are under par. Tower defense is a genre that can benefit a bit more than others from some truly great art, and when they're ugly they're somehow immediately less fun. Hell, use the Star Wars: Cantina art style if you have to, just make it look good.

  • http://RKRigney.com Ryan Rigney

    Excellently written review. I'm really disappointed to hear that the graphics are under par. Tower defense is a genre that can benefit a bit more than others from some truly great art, and when they're ugly they're somehow immediately less fun. Hell, use the Star Wars: Cantina art style if you have to, just make it look good.

  • http://www.spungella.com Jean-Denis Haas

    It's not that bad, but I was hoping for in-game music which is using the original score. And yes, the graphics could have been better. Still a lot of fun.

  • http://www.spungella.com Jean-Denis Haas

    It's not that bad, but I was hoping for in-game music which is using the original score. And yes, the graphics could have been better. Still a lot of fun.

  • Metalbear

    Wonderfully written review. I love how you described the game mechanics.

    This game WOULD be an instant purchase for me, but I spent my money on all the other wicked apps you've featured. :)

  • Metalbear

    Wonderfully written review. I love how you described the game mechanics.

    This game WOULD be an instant purchase for me, but I spent my money on all the other wicked apps you've featured. :)

  • birdman

    I pretty much agree with all of that. The graphics aren't great, but they aren't bad either, which is okay with me. I also don't really have a problem with the controls, but then again I don't play many tower defense games so I don't have much to compare it to. I'm having a lot of fun with this game so far.

  • birdman

    I pretty much agree with all of that. The graphics aren't great, but they aren't bad either, which is okay with me. I also don't really have a problem with the controls, but then again I don't play many tower defense games so I don't have much to compare it to. I'm having a lot of fun with this game so far.

  • RiverOnFire

    That's gotta be the best looking app icon I've ever seen. :)

  • RiverOnFire

    That's gotta be the best looking app icon I've ever seen. :)

  • http://www.moviepropking.com Moviepropking

    IS there an Ipad version coming out soon?

  • http://www.moviepropking.com Moviepropking

    IS there an Ipad version coming out soon?

  • http://www.toucharcade.com Mr T Bailey

    When you say there are better tower defence games on the appstore, what would a couple of examples be? Love this type of game, but what is the cream of the crop?

    • Silverfist

      Top five (IMO only, of course, and in no particular order):

      Fieldrunners
      The Creeps!
      7 Cities
      Plants vs. Zombies
      Geodefense

      • deadclown

        Nice to see 7 Cities on your list. That game is really underrated, imo.

        Everybody, imo, should own these ones:

        1) Plants vs. Zombies
        The best video game I ever played was WoW. The second best is this. Seriously.

        2) Geodefense / Swarm
        Pitch-perfect game balance, stupidly addictive, brilliantly designed.

        3) Defender Chronicles
        Haven't played in a while, but intentionally. I was flat out addicted. RPGTD? Yes, plz.

      • http://blog.finefin.com finefin

        Space Station: Frontier & TowerMadness are cool, too

    • thebleeptruth

      Here are mine, ranked :
      1. geoDefense
      2. The Creeps!
      3. Defender Chronicles
      4. Fieldrunners
      5. 7 Cities

      I'm not including PvZ because honestly I don't think it has classic TD gameplay. It's more of an unconventional TD, I guess. But if I would rate it in my list, it would appear above Defender Chronicles for #3.

      • Mr T Bailey

        Thanks guys will check them out

      • http://www.youtube.com/reviewsbysteve Steve

        I LOVE Defenders Chronicles also.
        Very addicting.

      • Kodo

        @thebleepthruth. The same could be said for Geo Defense, it being more of a puzzler than a TD game imo.

      • deadclown

        Tower Madness? Really?

        I haven't tried it, but I hate DLC. Especially when the standard game only starts with four maps. Is it really worth it...?

      • Kodo

        Don't forget iTD. That would probably be my next favorite TD alongside PvZ.

    • Daivos

      Thanks for posing the question. I was wondering the exact same thing. Likewise, thanks for those who provided answers. I'm going to check these out as well.

    • Forrest

      Tower Madness
      Geo Defense & Geo Defense Swarm
      Plants vs. Zombies
      Defender Chronicles

  • http://www.toucharcade.com Mr T Bailey

    When you say there are better tower defence games on the appstore, what would a couple of examples be? Love this type of game, but what is the cream of the crop?

    • Silverfist

      Top five (IMO only, of course, and in no particular order):

      Fieldrunners
      The Creeps!
      7 Cities
      Plants vs. Zombies
      Geodefense

      • deadclown

        Nice to see 7 Cities on your list. That game is really underrated, imo.

        Everybody, imo, should own these ones:

        1) Plants vs. Zombies
        The best video game I ever played was WoW. The second best is this. Seriously.

        2) Geodefense / Swarm
        Pitch-perfect game balance, stupidly addictive, brilliantly designed.

        3) Defender Chronicles
        Haven't played in a while, but intentionally. I was flat out addicted. RPGTD? Yes, plz.

      • http://blog.finefin.com finefin

        Space Station: Frontier & TowerMadness are cool, too

    • thebleeptruth

      Here are mine, ranked :
      1. geoDefense
      2. The Creeps!
      3. Defender Chronicles
      4. Fieldrunners
      5. 7 Cities

      I'm not including PvZ because honestly I don't think it has classic TD gameplay. It's more of an unconventional TD, I guess. But if I would rate it in my list, it would appear above Defender Chronicles for #3.

      • Mr T Bailey

        Thanks guys will check them out

      • http://www.youtube.com/reviewsbysteve Steve

        I LOVE Defenders Chronicles also.
        Very addicting.

      • Kodo

        @thebleepthruth. The same could be said for Geo Defense, it being more of a puzzler than a TD game imo.

      • deadclown

        Tower Madness? Really?

        I haven't tried it, but I hate DLC. Especially when the standard game only starts with four maps. Is it really worth it...?

      • Kodo

        Don't forget iTD. That would probably be my next favorite TD alongside PvZ.

    • Daivos

      Thanks for posing the question. I was wondering the exact same thing. Likewise, thanks for those who provided answers. I'm going to check these out as well.

    • Forrest

      Tower Madness
      Geo Defense & Geo Defense Swarm
      Plants vs. Zombies
      Defender Chronicles

  • Kodo

    Perhaps at the birth of the app store, I'd have felt different, but when there is so much near perfection and innovation in the app store nowadays, it gets harder and harder for me to get all-a-quiver about games that are mediocre in one or more areas. As far as TD games go, it's PvZ for me all the way:)

  • Kodo

    Perhaps at the birth of the app store, I'd have felt different, but when there is so much near perfection and innovation in the app store nowadays, it gets harder and harder for me to get all-a-quiver about games that are mediocre in one or more areas. As far as TD games go, it's PvZ for me all the way:)

  • K

    Would have bought if it didn't *look* so bad...

  • K

    Would have bought if it didn't *look* so bad...

  • ultimo

    The icon is GOOD

  • http://doesnothaveoneyet ultimo

    The icon is GOOD

  • Zallman

    Instant buy for me the moment it was available. Loving the game in general, but couldn't agree with the review more. Hopefully we will see a patch at some point to at least address the clunkiness of the interface if not more.

  • Zallman

    Instant buy for me the moment it was available. Loving the game in general, but couldn't agree with the review more. Hopefully we will see a patch at some point to at least address the clunkiness of the interface if not more.

  • http://www.jindofox.com jindofox

    Big Star Wars nerd here. I haven't played the game much at all yet, but I have these nerdly observations:

    1. The icon (which everyone loves), should be a Snowtrooper. This game takes place on Hoth, the ice planet, where we saw no Stormtroopers at all.

    2. Portions of the soundtrack are from the Shadows of the Empire score, composed in 1996 by Joel McNeely. Even non-fans can tell the difference.

    3. It's a shame the movie clips are so heavily pixelated. I'd rather see high quality stills than poor quality video.

    I'll give the game a spin at lunchtime. I'm sure it will be fun for me, although I hear there's no iOS4 savestate support and that a separate HD version is planned.

  • http://www.jindofox.com jindofox

    Big Star Wars nerd here. I haven't played the game much at all yet, but I have these nerdly observations:

    1. The icon (which everyone loves), should be a Snowtrooper. This game takes place on Hoth, the ice planet, where we saw no Stormtroopers at all.

    2. Portions of the soundtrack are from the Shadows of the Empire score, composed in 1996 by Joel McNeely. Even non-fans can tell the difference.

    3. It's a shame the movie clips are so heavily pixelated. I'd rather see high quality stills than poor quality video.

    I'll give the game a spin at lunchtime. I'm sure it will be fun for me, although I hear there's no iOS4 savestate support and that a separate HD version is planned.

  • Jas

    Will there be a native iPad version?

  • Jas

    Will there be a native iPad version?

  • Belthazzar

    my inner SW nerd purchased this for me.

    Also, Id like to add to list of best TD games Crystal Defenders. I really enjoyed it. It was challenging, crystal system was great and FF graphics brings back nostalgic memories. Its my favorite TD game so far (yet I havent purchased Plants vs Zombies yet :P)

  • Belthazzar

    my inner SW nerd purchased this for me.

    Also, Id like to add to list of best TD games Crystal Defenders. I really enjoyed it. It was challenging, crystal system was great and FF graphics brings back nostalgic memories. Its my favorite TD game so far (yet I havent purchased Plants vs Zombies yet :P)

  • jason

    plays nice on 2x ipad; im enjoying it

  • jason

    plays nice on 2x ipad; im enjoying it

  • http://www.mbtshop.jp/ mbt

    hi,
    everybody, take your time and a little bit.

  • http://www.mbtshop.jp/ mbt

    hi,
    everybody, take your time and a little bit.

  • http://allthingstarun.wordpress.com Tarun

    I made a review for this on my website:

    http://allthingstarun.wordpress.com/2010/07/23/battle-of-hoth-review/

    I think it is an OK game but it is a little too easy. Great for the Star Wars nerds out there.

  • http://allthingstarun.wordpress.com Tarun

    I made a review for this on my website:

    http://allthingstarun.wordpress.com/2010/07/23/battle-of-hoth-review/

    I think it is an OK game but it is a little too easy. Great for the Star Wars nerds out there.

  • Jeremy LaGrone

    Any idea why this game was pulled from App store?