Games from My Childhood Library: CatDog: The Quest for the Golden Hydrant

Image: The Box Art for the PC version of Quest for the Golden Hydrant
Written By: Katelyn Vause

“Games from my Childhood Library” is a series I’ll be doing where I go through the CD-ROM games that I played/owned when I was growing up. Some have been given to the CD-ROM Fossil Library, but some, whether due to a lack of particular value or me being too nostalgic to give them up, are still in a black CD case at home. I’ll talk about both, and today things are going to get a little whacky with CatDog: The Quest for the Golden Hydrant.

CatDog was a strange TV show. A half cat, half dog creature with mysterious origins, CatDog was one part serious sourpuss, one part fun-loving goof. I loved watching it when I was a kid, though, in retrospect, I realize just how weird the concept was. The duo (?) had many adventures on the show, but none were quite as great as those in The Quest for the Golden Hydrant.  

The game is based on an episode of the same title, and offers two modes, Arcade (play the levels in whatever order you want) or Adventure (follow the actual storyline). I usually played in Adventure mode, which was interspersed with clips from the episode. There are six levels, each with wildly different settings, but very similar, and simple, mechanics.

The first level takes place in the junkyard, where you scramble to collect pieces of a coupon for a map to the golden hydrant that are being scattered about by Eddie the Squirrel. The Greaser Dogs show up to block your way, and you have to maneuver around and jump across piles of garbage to avoid them.

I always hated this level because it made me anxious and also had pretty jerky movements on the part of both CatDog and the Greaser Dogs. You’d think you were safe and then bam! one of the Greaser Dogs somehow awkwardly jumps through multiple piles of trash to hit you. That’s actually a complaint I have about Golden Hydrant as a whole; barring the fact that it might have just been my computer, the game always had some sort of lag issue, whether it be a sound effect or a character’s movement.

My favorite level is the last one, which takes place in a museum. CatDog must maneuver around and over (and occasionally jump on top of) animated mummies in order to make their way to the doors that lead to the next section. Though mummies are kind of scary, the mummies turn into a pile of bandages when you jump on them, and the design wasn’t bad enough to bother me. The designers also definitely took some cues from Indiana Jones and The Mummy series.

Honorable mention goes to the mountain climbing level, in which you must strategically move CatDog and switch who is leading in order to navigate around Greaser Dogs, icicles, mountain goats and overhangs. Though this level got on my nerves a lot, it also probably challenged me the most. It’s the closest thing to a puzzle Golden Hydrant has, and it’s interspersed with satisfying moments of grabbing cat or dog treat-shaped power ups in order to make yourself temporarily invincible and fast.

Golden Hydrant is definitely a game I’d go back and play through, though I obviously doubt I’d find it very challenging anymore. While it was simple overall, the variety of levels, from an arcade-style space shooter to a brawl in a taco restaurant, and the connection to a fun television show meant it was a game I played over and over again. Though it isn’t necessarily a top five game for me, it definitely deserves being remembered.

Since school is out for most everyone now, happy summer! Got a game you’ll be thinking about while you’re sitting poolside? Tell us about it in the comments section or by going to the Say Wassup page!

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