Quoted from RTS:
Never heard that comparison before.
All the MM games I've played do not have two center ramps in back with multiple banks of drop targets, nor an upper right flipper to nothing you can't hit from the lower flippers.
I would look again.
It was very clear to me the first time I saw the Hobbit that the original game developers were starting with the layout of MM, and then trying to add to it. (Whether they succeeded in doing this is a matter of debate, but you cannot debate the fact that the two games have almost the EXACT same layout. Personally, I think they made TH much better than MM, but this is irrelevant. Both games, indeed, have almost the exact same layout with relatively minor changes. It is logically impossible to love the layout of MM, but hate the layout of the Hobbit because they are largely the exact same playfield.)
The main bash toys, Smaug and the Castle respectively, are in the EXACT same location on the playfield. One toy (Castle) has two standup targets and a drawbridge that lowers to reveal a hidden upkicker. The other (Smaug) has 5 drop targets which drop to reveal 3 hidden standup targets and a hidden upkicker. Honestly, other than one is a castle and one is a talking dragon, there is almost no difference between the two. The only real difference is the Hobbit's hidden upckicker diverts to the left ramp instead of just spitting the ball back out.
Both games have another UNhidden upkicker on the right side of the playfield in the EXACT same place. For crying out loud, they are both even named after Wizards! MM's is Merlin. Hobbit's is Radagast. The only real difference, again, is Radagast's upkicker diverts to the right ramp instead of just spitting it back out on the playfield.
MM has pop up trolls that block the two main ball paths depending on mode. The Hobbit has the same -- but it just has 4 instead of 2.
Both games have two ramps towards the back of the machine -- one on the right and one on the left. The right ramp on both machines leads to the left flipper and vice versa on both machines. Shooting the right ramp leads to a far left diverter at the far left of the playfield on both machines. Far left diverter leads to a hidden shooter rod on both machines. For crying out loud, even the pop bumpers are located in the exact same place in the upper right corner of both playfields! Far left and far right orbits surround both machines. Three standup targets are on the lower right of both machines.
Honestly, I fail to see how anyone could fail to miss this. The designers of the Hobbit clearly started with MM's layout and then made minor tweaks.
Minor Changes to Layout:
1. Added a far right flipper and a far left slingshot dedicated to bashing the main bash toy. (People act like this is a bad thing, but I find it increadibly useful. TH is MM with an additional upper right flipper and left slingshot to bash the main toy.)
2. Added two additional pop up targets to block main shots (i.e., 4 instead of 2), but made it less likely that more than one of those targets would be active at the same time. Added an additional mini game (Beast Frenzy) to the pop up targets.
3. Added a "one ring" button for the player to better control the power of the hidden far left shooter for more skill shots mid game.
4. Added two magnets on the orbit to drop the ball into a secret cave leading to a subway or into the pop bumpers.
5. Added a captive ball/standup target in the top center of the playfield.
6. Added drop targets in front of the 3 lower right standup targets, added the same to the lower left side of the playfield.
7. Changed the shooter to divert to the lower playfield at the beginning of the game and added multiple skill shots.
8. Changed the theme of the game from a medieval theme to a Tolkein movie theme. Added a number of modes and more sophisticated game code. Changed the artwork. Added an LCD sreen instead of a DMD screen. Replaced the damsel in distress toy with a different toy, a book with a second LCD screen. Added toys on the top of the pop bumpers.
I grew up playing MM in the late 90s (my parents had a machine). I own a Hobbit. I fail to see how anyone refuses to recognize the blatant similarities between the two. The Hobbit is essentially MM evolved. To me, it is impossible to like the layout of MM and hate the layout of the Hobbit. They are largely the exact same (or at least entirely similar) layouts.