Despite the title, the game has nothing to do with Tolkien's Legendarium. 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
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.
- Drop Pod: The explorers fly around in chrome bulb-shaped one-man pods.
- Killer Gorilla: A monstrous ape isprominent on the backglass, with an explorer caught in its giant clawed hand.
- No Plot? No Problem!: The artwork, depicting explorers fight off a variety of beasts in a strange Lost World,
- Panthera Awesome: There are several cat-like monsters around the playfield, all with sharp claws and big fangs.
- Slurpasaur: Several of the monsters look like over-sized frilled lizards.
- Space Clothes: The men are wearing white ball-shaped helmets and skintight suits with utility belts.
- Title Confusion: This game has nothing to do with the Middle-earth of Tolkien's Legendarium.
- Walking Shirtless Scene: About half of the men don't bother with shirts.