A pretty random and interesting story has come out from Variety of all places about a canceled Blizzard demo from around 16 years ago. Diablo II was being put to bed when Blizzard North programmer Johnathan Morin started tinkering with a Game Boy development kit, and he suddenly got the idea to create a “Diablo Junior” game for the Game Boy. He was inspired by the monster success of Pokémon and thought he could create a Diablo game with Pokémon elements.
It was never set in stone how exactly this game would be infused with those elements. The two main possibilities considered were that the players could collect monsters, or alternatively “Diablo Junior” could be divided into different versions, where each version of the game contained a different class like “Knight” or “Mage.” Also, it was never decided if the game would be turn-based or action-oriented. Only a very basic demo of the game was ever completed.
The reason why this Diablo spinoff never launched in earnest was that Blizzard North merged with Blizzard South, and Blizzard South had had no idea that Morin or anybody else was working on a Game Boy game. It took Blizzard South off guard since Blizzard’s mantra was creating games for “hyper-profitability,” meaning building one game that could generate continuous revenue over time. A Game Boy game that had nothing to do with Battle.net seemed like a waste of time to the powers that be, so they basically told Morin to cut it out.
Morin insists that “Diablo Junior” could have been a big critical success that opened up the Diablo brand to a whole new demographic, but we’ll never know for sure. However, it’s funny to imagine an alternate universe where Pokémon‘s biggest rival is Diablo.