Diablo Junior, for the Game Boy?


Fmulder points us to this week’s Shacknews piece previewing David Craddock’s upcoming Blizzard North book drops the interesting and slightly horrifying fact that Blizzard North briefly considered developing a Diablo project for the Gameboy. Quote:

“Following Diablo 2’s release, Blizzard North split into two teams … kind of,” Craddock said. “One team immediately started in on D2’s expansion set, Lord of Destruction. The other team went into spitball mode, kicking around ideas for a new IP. But several other developers ventured into groups of two or three and put together proposals for smaller projects. One of those was given the working title Diablo Junior, a game tentatively planned for the Game Boy Color and/or the Game Boy Advance, depending on market share and other business-y factors.

“Diablo Junior was intended as a single-player-only prequel to the original game. Taking a page from Pokémon’s book, the team wanted to release three cartridges, each packing a different hero in the warrior-rogue-sorcerer vein as well as items that players would have to trade for in order to collect. Heroes started in a unique town before heading into dungeons and wilderness zones. Diablo Junior was ultimately put out to pasture (absent of cow levels, I’m sure) because of the steep production costs associated with developing handheld games.”

D2 Guild Hall prototype.

The preview also mentions post-LoD plans for a second D2 expansion which would have focused on adding multiplayer features, including Guild Halls. Those were long-planned and were actually playable pre-release; we saw a functional version during our visit to Blizzard North in 2000, but they were never developed fully enough to implement into Diablo II. Nor Diablo III, at least not so far.

See our Diablo Wiki article for full details and screenshots of all the D2 Guild Hall info from back in the day.


Update: David Craddock hit the comments to reply to a question from Softshack about an earlier report of the Diablo Gameboy project.

Yes, those shots are indeed from a prototype BN produced. The game didn’t progress much further than that. The artists and programmers put together a warrior-type character and had him walking around a test level; some clips even show him ghosting through walls.

I’m in the camp that believed Blizzard could have printed money by shipping a Diablo Game Boy game. Hopefully we’ll get a version of the first game on tablets one day. Such a version wouldn’t control as well as on a handheld system with tactile feedback, but it would be portable Diablo, and I’d buy it!

Comments

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  1. Looks like a diabolical marriage between Donkey Kong Jr. and Zaxxon.

    …I was terrible at both.

  2. http://www.unseen64.net/2008/04/05/diablo-gameboy-cancelled/

    So is this (link above) an earlier version from the same development?

    • Probably, or else whoever gave Craddock that tidbit just misremembered or wasn’t aware of later dev on the project. He interviewed like 50 people for the book, so no doubt some stories conflict and overlap in odd ways, as oral histories tend to do.

  3. To this day whenever I see that Guild Hall screenshot my eyes well up with tears… well, not really but it would have been sweet.

    • I was excited when I first saw that shot years ago. I wished there was a second expansion for D2.

    • I’m fascinated by the guild hall idea whenever it’s unearthed once again. Just like with WoW player housing, I’m curious, what do players expect to gain from such a feature? Your very own instance of some place in the world where you can idly stand by alone or with a few guild mates? I mean, you could always move the stash/guild vault and a resting place there but other than that?

      To me, part of the reason that Blizzard seem to avoid player housing features like the plague, seems to be the fact that they have trouble finding a ‘unique selling proposition’/benefit for it.

      • It seems more viable on D3 with the always online requirement and the general lack of face-to-face chat or other social features. I hardly ever interact with people on my friends list, even when we’re online at the same time. But if we could stand in a game-like structure, or automatically regroup there after a game, or appear there when logging in, that would be awesome. Even aside from any additional guild features like a shared bank or stash.

        • Sounds a lot like very basic guild support and might even be implemented as a simple dedicated chat channel. You don’t really need a terrain instance to see your guild mates’ characters standing in some decorated room for that, do you?

          I do share your argument though that D3 could only benefit from player housing creating at least a tiny bit of a sense of community (as opposed to WoW where housing would probably augment the ‘abandoned cities’ feeling).

          The thing is, Blizzard’s developement teams obviously found themselves confronted with rather rigorous budgeting structures (at least that’s my impression) during recent years. So if they decide to invest into community features, they’d probably go with a very basic *cough*dirt cheap*cough* guild implementation. Withdrawing some coders and artists from creating their ultra-important new IP only to work on guild halls that have atmospheric benefit at best for a month or two, seems unlikly to happen though. Maybe with a new, marketable expansion, but certainly not for a game box they already sold.

  4. Damn shame no more Blizzard North. They seemed to have such awesome vision for the Diablo franchise.

  5. “horrifying” ?

    that would have been awesome

  6. Diablo 3 feels like Diablo Jr.

  7. Google “Diablo gameboy”, you’ll see an article on it, complete with linked video, from over 4 years ago.

    Not the freshest of news, but people blew it off at the time because D3 wasn’t even announced and a lot of speculation was floating around.

  8. looks like it came straight out of a nes system.
    its terrible.

  9. The social aspect of D3 is terrible, worst thing ive ever seen, decreasing D3 overall longevity and fun.

    At least on D2 we had:

    1- Chat chanels with graphical interface and avatar support. (Banner sucks)
    2- Ability to name games & search game functions (lobby games, trade games, duel games)
    3- Ladder

    I feel alone many times since the social part of the game is total crap, you can only farm or check the ah.

    • agree to some extent. Sometimes you feel like playing a specific type of game or preventing certain people from joining a game – named games would be ideal (e.g. “No rushing” or “Quests only” etc).

      Would be nice to be able to define your game a bit more rather than just by the quest.

      Don’t really care about the ladder.

  10. just make a damn next podcast already

  11. Hi softshack,

    Yes, those shots are indeed from a prototype BN produced. The game didn’t progress much further than that. The artists and programmers put together a warrior-type character and had him walking around a test level; some clips even show him ghosting through walls.

    I’m in the camp that believed Blizzard could have printed money by shipping a Diablo Game Boy game. Hopefully we’ll get a version of the first game on tablets one day. Such a version wouldn’t control as well as on a handheld system with tactile feedback, but it would be portable Diablo, and I’d buy it!

  12. I do not see the big deal about the old battle.net and game making and joining. it was silly, and irritating.

    example of some of my game names:

    21341kasklfdasfl
    asfjkashkdfljahslfkas
    asfjkaslfkjas
    asfdjkashdflkjasfhlas

    and i bet i was not the only one.

    everyone in diablo 3 is questing. because of NV, so that elimates the need for mf, or rushing or whatever.

    what of the old battle.net is relevant to today?

    1) Rushing, pick any game or quest you have access to. or get a friend to open it for you.
    2) item mule swapping, shared stash now..
    3) naming of games, meh who cares, i click join and it joins or i click a friend to join.
    4) private game for friends, you can join a friends game.
    5) boss farming, make a single player or join a game and do an act, more profitable than a boss.
    6) pk, there will be arenas in 1.1
    7) cheating, duping whatever. not doable
    8) chatting. use the chat channels.
    9) trading, use the auction house or trade channel
    10) wtb games, use the auction house

    it is always nice to think about the old days,
    but the old days were not always the best.

    remember the old times? before sanitation or running water? they were great! wern’t they!

    • agreed for the most part, but I’d really like to make a game that informs people to stick together or to clear out entire areas. Too often people are all over the place doing their own thing, making for a horrible coop experience. And it’s hard to coordinate with friends if they have characters of varying levels or at different quests etc.

  13. You can easily take the first diablo game with you on the road just grab a version of the PSX port and either convert it to work on the psp or grab a already converted copy that are floating around the internet.

  14. How about a Diablo 1 HD remake, and I do mean HD, built on the D3 engine. But without the AH and using all the original design of D1. Save anywhere was epic. 😀

    • Oh good lord …

      D1 is, in my humble opinion, one of the greatest games of all time. I wouldn’t wanna see it fall into the hands of the people who violated the series in recent past.

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