English JRPG Timeline


1980 – 1989

English JRPGs from the index

July 10th, 1987

First JRPG on console

Rygar releases on the NES, a few months shy after it’s Famicom release. This version was entirely different than it’s arcade counterpart, a difficult metroid-like side scrolling action-platformer with RPG elements.

March 1989

Ys: The Vanished Omens

The first instalment of the Ys series arrives in the west for Sega Master System. Developed by Nihon Falcom.

September 23rd, 1989

Dragon Warrior

Dragon Quest was released in North America by Nintendo of America under the direction of Satoru Iwata with help from Yuji Horii in August 1989. The game was a success, selling over 500,000 copies. The US version has a different title due to licensing issues, but had improved graphics and a battery for saving.


1990 – 1999

English JRPGs from the index

July 12, 1990

Final Fantasy

After seeing the success Dragon Quest had in the west, Hironobu Sakaguchi partners up with Nintendo of America to translate the first Final Fantasy. It was a modest success and the US didn’t get another Final Fantasy until Final Fantasy IV (released as II).

September 30, 1990

First handheld JRPG

The Final Fantasy Legend, known in Japan as Makai Toushi SaGa is released by Square for Game Boy in the United States. Acclaimed composer Nobuo Uematsu wrote its score. The first SaGa game became Square’s first million seller with 1.37 million units shipped and has been cited to be the influence behind many series such as Pokémon.

December 1992

Dragon Slayer: The Legend of Heroes

The first game in the Legend of Heroes series arrives on TurboGrafx-CD. It was nominated for multiple awards for it’s quality and highly involved gameplay. Developed by Nihon Falcom.

August 11th, 1995

Chrono Trigger

Developed by the JRPG dream team, Sakaguchi, Horii and Akira Toriyama. Chrono Trigger is released in the US four months after Japan and becomes an instant classic.

May 13, 1996

Super Mario RPG

Super Mario RPG: Legend of the Seven Stars is released in the United States. It’s the creation of Shigeru Miyamoto and developers at Square. It later inspired spiritual successors Paper Mario and Mario & Luigi.

September 28, 1998

Pokémon Red & Blue