1980s

JRPGs from the 80s
ConsoleNameReleaseGenreDeveloperLucca's Notes
JP FCValkyrie no Bouken: Toki no Kagi Densetsu1986ActionNamcoMinimal text, starring Namco's famous valkyrie
JP FCChester Field: Ankoku Shin e no Chousen1987ActionVic TokaiLight on text, hilarious walking animation, very platformy
JP FCIndra no Hikari1987Turn-BasedKemcoEnemies are visible on the overworld, but otherwise appears to be yet another Dragon Warrior clone
JP FCZombie Hunter1987ActionHi-Score Media WorkNot the greatest side-scrolling ARPG, but it does have synthesized voices
JP FCZoids: Chuuou Tairiku no Tatakai1987ActionMicroidsStandard non-combat exploration with shooter-style combat and experience gain behind the scenes
JP FCToujin Makyou Den: Heracles no Eikou1987Turn-BasedData EastFirst in a long Greek-themed series that Nintendo never bothered to localize (except that one time)
JP FCOutlanders1987ActionMicronicsKooky sci-fi with wonky ARPG combat
JP FCMomotarou Densetsu1987Turn-BasedHudson SoftStandard gameplay, but cute all the same!
JP FCMirai Shinwa Jarvas1987ActionTaitoIf it looks like a kusoge, and plays like a kusoge…
JP FCMinelvaton Saga: Ragon no Fukkatsu1987ActionRandom HouseFirst of the Silva Saga series, featuring overhead ARPG combat
JP FCMajou Densetsu II: Dimashikyou Gailous1987ActionKonamiA sidescrolling ARPG with 2 playable characters, XP gain refills life; life bar can be extended via items
NESRygar1987Action-PlatformTecmoDifficult Metroid-like sidescrolling ARPG with lots of enemy killing via yo-yo-like shield and experience to gain
JP FCGeGeGe no Kitarou 2: Youkai Gundan no Chousen1987Turn-BasedToseBased off the spooky anime of the same name
JP FCHoshi wo Miru Hito1987Turn-BasedAnother/Hot-BKusoge of legend, must be played to be believed (assuming you can even make it to the first town)
JP FCDigital Devil Story: Megami Tensei1987Dungeon CrawlerAtlusThe series had to start somewhere…
JP FCDragon Scroll: Yomigaerishi Maryuu1987ActionKonami*Epilepsy Warning* Otherwise a solid ARPG
NESZelda II: The Adventure of Link1988ActionNintendoA side-scrolling Zelda game with XP and leveling? Surely this must be (an) Error!
Master SystemMiracle Warriors: Seal of the Dark Lord1988Dungeon CrawlerKogadoExtremely sparse story, strange overworld movement
Master SystemGolvellius: Valley of Doom1988ActionCompileBlends both Zelda I and II gameplay (both overhead and side-view), with items to obtain to increase parameters
NESCastlevania II: Simon's Quest1988Action-PlatformKonamiSurprise! Contains a day/night system and XP/leveling
JP FCDeep Dungeon III: Yuushi e no Tabi1988Dungeon CrawlerHumming Bird Soft1st-person dunegon crawl
JP FCYs1988ActionFalcomAdol bumps into the enemies to slay them
JP FCDragon Ball: Dai Maou Fukkatsu1988Card-BasedD&D Corp/TosePlays kinda like a card-based board game
JP FCCosmo Police Galivan1988Action-PlatformNihon BussanPlatformer ARPG - Metroidvania before metroidvanias were a thing
JP FCSukeban Deka III1988ActionShoueiManga-based ARPG
JP FCElysion1988ActionNEC InterchannelA bit bland of an ARPG, but it has multiple playable characters, so that's neat
JP FCFinal Fantasy II1988Turn-BasedSquareLeveling is done via utilizing skills rather than experience- a drastic and much-maligned design choice
Master SystemWonder Boy in Monster Land1988Action-PlatformWestone Bit Entertainment/SegaA side-scrolling ARPG where score serves as XP of sorts and there is purchasable equipment to increase stats
JP FCKaijuu Monogatari1988Turn-BasedBirthdayPretty standard, but also super-hard at the beginning
Master SystemPhantasy Star1988Turn-BasedSegaSci-fi JRPG great-grandpappy
NESHydlide1989ActionT&E SoftVery grindy, very bad
NESFaxanadu1989Action-PlatformHudson SoftPlays more like a standard Castlevania
NESLegacy of the Wizard1989Action-PlatformFalcomAn early example of a metroidvania with a family element; different family members have different exploration skills
JP PC EngineTengai Makyou: Ziria (CD)1989Turn-BasedHudson Soft, Red CompanyFirst in the FEoE series, revolutionary for being one of the first CD-based RPGs, almost officially brought to the West but alas~
TurboGrafx-16Dungeon Explorer1989Dungeon CrawlerAtlusCo-op top-down dungeon crawl, think Gauntlet
NESDragon Warrior1989Turn-BasedChunsoftSolo questing to save the kingdom!
NESThe Magic of Scheherazade1989ActionCulture BrainCould get pretty oof in cultural stereotypes, a mix of turn-based and ARPG gameplay
Master SystemYs: The Vanished Omens1989ActionFalcom/SegaSome dungeon areas are horizontally flipped, but is otherwise generally similar to the original release
NESWillow1989ActionCapcomYes, based off the 80's movie with Warwick Davis and Val Kilmer. Solid ARPG gameplay!
JP FCTao1989Turn-BasedPax SoftonicaHeavily religious-themed, bizarre af (you ride a dinosaur to Moscow), likely kusoge
Master SystemWonder Boy III: The Dragon's Trap1989Action-PlatformWestone Bit EntertainmentA nonlinear game where transforming into different monster forms (and buying better statted equipment) is key to progression
Master SystemSpellCaster1989ActionSegaARPG in combat (plays much like Shinobi), point-and-click-like in towns, story progression increases stats
JP PC EngineShiryou Sensen: War of the Dead1989ActionFun ProjectBadass cover art, plays a lot like Zelda II
JP PC EngineOut Live1989Dungeon CrawlerSunsoftFirst-person dungeon crawler, but in a mech!
JP PC EngineMakai Hakkenden: Shada1989ActionData EastRun-of-the-mill Ys clone
JP FCSweet Home1989Turn-Based/HorrorCapcomWithout this, Resident Evil doesn't exist; a horror turn-based game with character permadeath
JP FCShinsenden1989Turn-BasedTamtexAnother day, another eastern-themed DQ clone
JP FCMother1989Turn-BasedApe/NintendoModern-themed turn-based game starring kids with psychic powers
JP FCMirai Senshi: Lios1989StrategyPack-In-VideoA mech-based SRPG, equipment upgrades improve units and are earned in battles
JP FCLaSalle Ishii's Childs Quest1989Turn-BasedNamcoIDOL MANAGER JRPG. ENOUGH SAID.
JP FCJajamaru Ninpou Chou1989Turn-BasedJalecoAlmost came out in the States, but alas… Another DW clone where you can only fight one enemy at a time
JP FCHydlide 3: Yami Kara no Houmonsha1989ActionT&E SoftThere is no such thing as a good Hydlide game.
JP FCHeracles no Eikou II: Titan no Metsubo1989Turn-BasedData EastDragon Warrior-styled gameplay with Greek mythological flair
JP FCFamicom Jump: Eiyuu Retsuden1989ActionToseGet isekai'd into a world where heroes and villains from the Jump magazine series converge, XP gain is represented by "effort"
JP FCHokuto no Ken 3: Shin Seiki Souzou Seiken Retsuden1989Turn-BasedShouei SystemAdapts the manga storyline through the Kingdom of Shura arc, but does take some liberties with characters