Who would've guessed that Blizzard, once upon a time, had wanted a Diablo game on Game Boy Color? That is apparently the case, according to Blizz biographer David Craddock. Turns out, the studio had once planned to make a single-player Diablo prequel for the handheld, dubbed Diablo Junior.
Diablo is very much a social experience, however, and the Game Boy Color prequel that never released did have some aspect of player interaction. Blizzard was actually looking to Pokemon for inspiration, considering multiple editions so players could trade items and the like. According to Craddock:
"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."
Development had been limited to just a handful of the staff, after Diablo 2 was released. At the time, Blizzard North had been split into two primary groups -- one to work on the Lord of Destruction expansion, and the other to come up with new ideas. Beyond these two teams, however, were smaller groups who came up with smaller projects. One such project was Diablo Junior.
Craddock also notes that after Lord of Destruction launched, Blizzard had considered another add-on that would focus more on the game's multiplayer features.
Much of David Craddock's information comes from former Blizzard employees who used to work at Blizzard, Condor (later Blizzard North), and Silicon & Synapse (Blizzard's original name), not to mention numerous other individuals who still deal with Blizzard on a regular basis. His unauthorized Blizz biography, Stay Awhile and Listen, has been in the works since 2008 and will finally be out early next year.