Cookie Fonster’s Problem Sleuth Commentary Part 4: Liquor Explosions and Skull Puzzles


Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5 >

Chapter 5 + part of chapter 6

Pages 328–422 (MSPA: 546–640)

NOTE: Next time I’ll try to release a Problem Sleuth post only slightly late rather than this. Sorry about all the delays.

10/1/2019 NOTE: This was my final Problem Sleuth post before I shelved the project, deeming it a failed experiment. Past the first few chapters, I couldn’t remember enough about the comic’s plot to write much meaningful about it; as such, this post isn’t really up to my quality standards. I do want to pick up my Problem Sleuth posts again someday, perhaps if I’m on a hiatus with my Homestuck posts.

When Pickle Inspector wakes to see his office flooded, the area with the elf is flooded as well. I’m kind of confused again—is that area part of the material world or not?

When Pickle Inspector is commanded to save the drowning elf, the narration says:

It is too late for him. There is nothing you can do.

First death that’s actually kind of sad.

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Cookie Fonster’s Problem Sleuth Commentary Part 3: Imagination Cooperation Station


Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 >

Chapter 4

Pages 230–327 (MSPA: 448–545)

NOTE: Before leaving for my next vacation, I will publish only one more Homestuck post, not two.  

You are now Pickle Inspector.

Pickle Inspector, the last main character of Problem Sleuth, has some things in common with Jade, the last main character of Homestuck. Both start off the story already well engaged in the comics’ respective game mechanics: Pickle Inspector spends a lot of time in the imaginary world, and Jade spends a lot of time in the dream world; both are also the only characters who started that sort of thing (PI building a fort, and Jade’s dream self waking up) before the story began. Though I don’t think very many people are aware of the parallels, I can’t imagine the author didn’t create Jade’s character with Pickle Inspector in mind.

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Cookie Fonster’s Problem Sleuth Commentary Part 2: Puzzle Soup for the Drunken Soul


< Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 >

Chapters 2-3

Pages 84–229 (MSPA: 302–447)

Chapter 2 opens with Problem Sleuth leaving his main office and entering his secret chamber. This allows for worldbuilding typical of pretty much any story while avoiding him actually leaving his office. It also matches up with Act 2 of Homestuck starting with John leaving Earth.

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Cookie Fonster’s Problem Sleuth Commentary Part 1: Things Aren’t As They Seem, Ever


Part 1 | Part 2 >

Chapter 1

Pages 1–83 (MSPA: 219–301)

You are one of the top Problem Sleuths in the city…

Problem Sleuth, like all three other MS Paint Adventures, starts off simple enough: by introducing the main character in a default starting situation. Jailbreak and Bard Quest both put the main character in a definite predicament of sorts, but Problem Sleuth and Homestuck simply introduce the main character in the most everyday setting possible. While Homestuck soon tells us that John, the protagonist, is getting a video game called Sburb for his birthday, thus setting up a premise*, Problem Sleuth does not give us any premise at all in its opening pages, instead revealing it through Problem Sleuth (the character) realizing through command-based exploration that he is trapped in his office.

* I’ll be doing A LOT of comparing Problem Sleuth with Homestuck in this post series. That’s part of the point of this project, to see Homestuck from a different perspective by comparing it with its predecessor.

The text accompanying the page is as follows: You are one of the top Problem Sleuths in the city. Solicitations for your service are numerous in quantity. Compensation, adequate. It is a balmy summer evening. You are feeling particularly hard boiled tonight. What will you do? It’s a simple introductory line that gives a bit of introduction fluff that doesn’t have much relevance to the real story. The three main characters are all supposedly detectives, but they do almost no detective work at all in the comic; I bet this is to parody how character introductions in video games are also hardly relevant. In Homestuck, the interests brought up in character introductions sometimes actually are relevant to the plot; sometimes they’re not relevant to the plot but very character-defining; and in a few cases, such as Dave’s supposed interest in bands nobody has ever heard of but him, never brought up at all.

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Cookie Fonster’s Problem Sleuth Commentary Introduction

As I mentioned not long ago, I’m starting a new blog post series similar to my lengthy post series commenting on the famed story webcomic Homestuck, but covering its predecessor, Problem Sleuth. I would say it’s based on the success of my Homestuck post series, but that post series isn’t particularly popular at the moment. I would also append that sentence with “(yet)” if there was a non-awkward way to say that while also acknowledging that my posts becoming more popular is merely what I hope will happen.

Although Homestuck is unquestionably Andrew Hussie’s magnum opus, Problem Sleuth deserves some appreciation for keeping a consistent theme and storyline through its year-long run. Homestuck, while unlike Problem Sleuth intended as an “actual story” from the start, started as a command-based story of four teenagers playing a video game but gradually shed many of its original layers, progressing into a tale of gray-skinned aliens and lengthy dialogue and complex plot lines, and then incorporating relationship drama and aging up its characters and regularly going on hiatus to the point where it’s a completely different story from what it started as. This is not to say that what Homestuck became ended up being bad—although some people do think that, I actually like the middle section of the comic the most—it’s more like Problem Sleuth does a better job at keeping a consistent style. Throughout its run Problem Sleuth ran on user-suggested commands and kept its theme of being a video game adventure while still doing a good job at escalating its storyline, something that cannot be said of Homestuck.

Problem Sleuth is so far the only one of Hussie’s four comics on MS Paint Adventures to have a definite conclusion, sealing its role as a story more so than Homestuck which is the one that’s an actual story. Its predecessors of similar style, Jailbreak and Bard Quest, are both left unfinished, while Homestuck is either finished or semi-finished depending on how you look at it (I look at it as semi-finished). As it stands, Homestuck technically has an ending, but there’s a vaguely described epilogue planned as well. There is much debate as to whether Homestuck’s present ending is a good satisfying ending. Many readers, myself included, feel that the ending as it stands does not give a satisfying wrap-up to all its plot threads and character arcs. Some readers, myself still included, think Homestuck’s current ending doesn’t even hit some of the bare minimum requirements for a satisfying ending. Readers also can’t agree on what to expect for the epilogue of the comic, whether it will resolve stuff and possibly even redeem the ending, or if it won’t be of much substance. I personally have optimistic expectations for the epilogue, mostly because it really feels all “look I know Homestuck isn’t good anymore” to think it won’t be much good.

While Problem Sleuth has a solid conclusion, it still is at heart a silly video game parody story of clumsy detectives. But with a decent length of over 1600 pages, it’s still worth giving serious commentary, in what will be my second full read of Problem Sleuth. For reference, my first read of Problem Sleuth was on and off over the course of several months, and was at around the same time as my second read of Homestuck. While I have no posting schedule set in stone yet, I’m thinking of making these posts at a similar rate to my Homestuck posts: generally every 3-5 days, though it can vary. I think it’s reasonable to cover about 100 or more pages per post, similar to how I originally did my Homestuck post series. This means that if things go as planned, my Problem Sleuth post series will contain about 16 posts total and take a few months from start to finish.

List of posts:

Part 1 / Part 2 / Part 3 / Part 4

(more coming at some point hopefully?????)