Greetings from the Garden State, where I’m spending part of my Thanksgiving break. It just recently occurred to me that I’ve yet to post my strategy for grabbing the prize (or “fruit,” if you prefer) as soon as it appears in the third maze. What’s unusual about this beige maze is, of course, that it only has one pair of tunnels, whereas the other three mazes have two. Somewhat jarring is that my mini-pattern does not work 100% of the time, though. I’ll discuss more about that further down.
You need to clear this maze four times before you advance to the next. The first time you get this maze, the prize is the 2,000-point pear. Clear the maze once, and the next prize is the 5,000-point banana, the highest scoring item in the entire game. After that, and for the rest of the game, the prizes are random.
First and foremost, the important thing is that you immediately clear the boxed upside-down T-shaped island below Ms. Pac-Man’s starting position. Always. Period. This goes for both the “turbo” variation and the standard version of the game. As soon as the level starts, clear this island, starting from the left, and never, ever go back into that box. When you first start the level, only one ghost will be after you. If you’re not smart and you wait until later, I can almost promise you that you will get trapped in that box by at least two ghosts. (As with my previous mini-patterns, the green represents the path Ms. Pac-Man should take.)
Notice that I marked the maze path around the horizontal bar in the lower left corner in yellow. In general, you want to be very careful in that corner, as it’s easy to be trapped by a group of ghosts over there. I find that whenever I lose a life on this maze, it’s almost invariably in that corner.
But why haven’t I also marked the other small island on the right as such? Well, it’s because the next thing you’re going to do is make a lap around that bar:
Note that I’ve colored the path below Ms. Pac-Man’s starting point with red now that she’s already cleared it; let that be yet another reminder to never go into that part of the maze again!
After you complete a clockwise lap around the bar island on the lower right, head straight up. Now, remember how I said this mini-pattern doesn’t work 100% of the time? Well, my experience is that if the pattern fails, it will be somewhere near that L-shaped island on the right as you’re heading up while a ghost heads right toward you. Usually you can duck away from the pattern for a bit. Whether the pattern works or you have to break it, make sure that you make your way to the tunnel on the right as soon as you safely can. Under ideal circumstances, your next step will look like this:
The pear or banana should appear right as Ms. Pac-Man reaches the tunnel. Because there’s only one pair of tunnels, if the prize doesn’t come out of the tunnel on the right, it will come out on the other side, so always enter the tunnel at the end of this step.
And there you have it. As for what steps to take after gobbling up the prize, that’s up to you. Typically, if the prize comes out of the tunnel on the right, I head straight down when I come out of the tunnel on the left, eat the energizer on the left, and immediately clear that corner island — but only on levels when the ghosts still turn blue. I most definitely follow that path the first time this maze appears (that is, the pear level), as on a machine set to standard difficulty, the ghosts’ vulnerability time is set to the longest. After you clear the pair level, the ghosts’ vulnerability shrinks significantly — eat an energizer, and the ghosts flash between blue and white immediately. On the banana maze, you’ll have eight flashes before the ghosts turn back to their original colors and therefore can kill you; the fourth time you see this maze (that is, two levels after the banana), you only have four flashes. Otherwise I kind of zigzag my way to the upper right quadrant and work my way back left, then save that dangerous island on the lower left for last.
Good luck, all, and happy Thanksgiving!