"Escape to a new world of pinball adventure."Middle Earth was a Physical Pinball Table designed by Gary Slater with art by George Opperman; it was released in 1978 by Atari.Despite the title, the game has nothing to do with The Lord of the Rings. Instead, the name comes from the table's setting, an alien Lost World filled with feral beasts, bloodthirsty dinosaurs, giant apes, strange monsters, and the brave futuristic explorers trying to tame it all. But like Middle Earth itself, mastering this pinball won't be easy, as its double playfields and offset flippers require unconventional pinball skills.On July 1st, 1978, songwriter Mandi Martin garnered national news coverage and entered the Guinness Book of World Records when she played Middle Earth for 140 hours and 32 minutes, with a final score of 321,400 points.note Pinball players tend to be divided on the game; some enjoy the challenge of the unorthodox playfield, but others find it too sparse and slow to hold their interest.
The Middle Earth pinball demonstrates the following tropes:
- Action Girl: The girl on the backglass, who's slashing at the giant gorilla with a Laser Blade while a Kaiju prepares to bite her head off.
- Beast of Battle: A man with a sword can be seen riding some sort of lizard/bull hybrid on the playfield.
- Climactic Volcano Backdrop: Seen all over the playfield.
- Dangerously Short Skirt: The woman on the playfield has one.
- Drop Pod: The explorers fly around in chrome bulb-shaped one-man pods.
- Everything's Better with Dinosaurs
- Everything Trying to Kill You: If the giant monsters don't get you, the volcanic landscape will.
- Kaiju: Something has to fight that giant ape...
- Killer Gorilla: Up front and prominent on the backglass, with an explorer caught in its giant clawed hand.
- Laser Blade/Ray Gun: Everyone is armed with one of these.
- Lost World
- No Plot? No Problem!: Whole lotta atmosphere, but absolutely zero plot.
- Panthera Awesome: There are several versions around the playfield, all with sharp claws and big fangs.
- Rated M for Manly
- Slurpasaur: Several of the monsters look like oversized frilled lizards.
- Space Clothes: The men are wearing white ball-shaped helmets and skintight suits with utility belts.
- The Place
- Title Confusion: Admit it, you thought this was the other The Lord of the Rings game.
- Tyrannosaurus rex: Front and center on the playfield.
- Walking Shirtless Scene: About half of the men don't bother with shirts.