Unearthing the Pokemon-inspired Diablo game that never was

"Pokemon was really big at the time. We thought we might do something similar where you could fight these monsters and get this whole different genre, age group."

If history had taken a different turn some 16 years ago, an entire generation of ragamuffins might've grown up playing Diablo on their Game Boys.

You see, way before smartphones ruled the world, one Blizzard North programmer called Jonathan Morin began to wonder what the franchise might look like on the small screen.

Speaking to Variety for a recent feature, Morin revealed he got curious about the idea after spying a Game Boy dev kit in a studio corridor. After mulling it over, he eventually began working on a secret Pokemon-inspired prototype he called 'Diablo Jr.'.

"Pokemon was really big at the time," he recalled. "We thought we might do something similar where you could fight these monsters and get this whole different genre, age group, because Diablo was for adults. That was the genesis of it."

After around six months of covert development, he eventually got a demo running on the original Game Boy, and had enough in place to show a character walking around the world.

In terms of the gameplay, Morin's small team were debating whether to try and preserve the series' signature hack 'n' slash elements, or follow in Pokemon's footsteps and take a turn-based approach.

Unfortunately though, they never got any further than that. Managerial changes and new owners killed the project before it'd even begun to truly take shape, but with the launch of Diablo Immortal -- the franchise's smartphone debut -- imminent, Morin now believes he was probably ahead of the curve. 

Those interested in learning more about Diablo Jr should head on over to Variety for the full story.

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