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.”
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.
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!