It's a sad fact that Japanese companies, when it comes to RPGs, hate Europe, I can't blame them most JRPGs can rival the Lord of the Rings trilogy in size and according to Wikipedia: Europe is a continent that speaks Bulgarian, Czech, Danish, Dutch, English, Estonian, Finnish, French, German, Greek, Hungarian, Irish, Italian, Latvian, Lithuanian, Maltese, Polish, Portuguese, Romanian, Slovak, Slovene, Spanish and Swedish.
It's not just kids that are to young to grasp a second language, not all countries promote a "famous" one, and a lot of adults refuse to learn another language . For that reason most games that are for sale in Europe are either sports or action\platform games because they are simple to understand.
The first game that I ever played was a Breakout(or a clone) on the Spectrum around 1985. Until 1997 there were only two games that escape the action\platform formula Mig-29 Fulcrum a flight simulator and Mega-Lo-Mania(named Tyrants: Fight Through Time in the States) a real-time strategy game, both on the Mega Drive(Genesis).
I arrived at my friend's house, sat on the couch, I watched him play what looked like a bad and complicated Doom clone. My friend was lost, he didn't know were to go, he spent over
20 minutes just looking at the same textures with the occasional battle, in those 20 minutes the only thing that happen to break the monotony was when all the characters leveled up. He finally arrived at a large room and every thing stopped, the ceiling had collapsed, all the characters were on the floor, they looked dead...
I looked at the box, I tried to make sense of the title "Shining the Holy Ark" with no avail, at the most the title should have been "The Shining of the Holy Ark", at the back of the box it said that this was Team Sonic game, it shows up if we reset the game but I haven't seen it yet my friend was still "playing". I used playing in quotes because he wasn't doing any thing, "Why would someone get a game that has un-skip-able long scenes ?" I thought.
In early 1998 I was at a birthday party, when one of the cousins of the birthday boy plugged a Playstation and showed a blond guy with a large sword, a guy with a gun attached to his arm and large feline with his tail on fire, fighting a guy with a lot of wings. On top of that there was a beautiful song. It took me a few years to understand that a song like that can be made for a video game
In July 1999 I bought the British magazine called Total Control (I think). Inside, there was a comprehensive guide to an RPG for the original Game Boy, aka: The Brick, it came in two ways Red and Blue and even thought there was 151 creatures, only two were popular and one of them you couldn't get normally in the game. It also described the TV show and how popular with kids it was and spawned at least two movies, second one was about to get released in Japan (that's how I know it was July). Even thought it was a complex RPG, kids would go crazy for the franchise. Days later I bought the Bri.. *ahem* the original Game Boy and the Blue version of the game imported from the U.S. from a neighbor that wanted to get rid of old Game Boy to get the Color one, and he finished the game so I coughed a few bucks and there it was my second Game Boy and an RPG. I played game, during breaks at school, at home, at the beach, people would ask "What are you playing ?", "Pok√©mon Blue" I replied, but no one knew what it was. A few months later it happen: the ad with the little creatures escaping from a van, the cartoon, the trading cards, Pok√©mon lollipop, Pok√©mon bubble gum, the tag line, Pok√©mon stickers album, Pok√©mon cereal, Pok√©mon on the N64, the clones that feed of it's popularity, the Pikachu N64,Pikachu Game Boy Color, the Pok√©mon movie having a wide theater release, the list goes one and one...
I can attest to the quality of Pok√©mon based on the game alone. But now, I can get pass of what surrounds it. Of all the clones, Jade Cocoon on the PSX was the only one clone I played and I enjoyed it.
I didn't just started playing RPGs made from 1997 on, I have since started digging for older games: Final Fantasy VI (1994) on the PSX, The Legend of Zelda (1986) and Tales of Phantasia (1995) on the GBA just to name a few.
Two years ago I had what most people call now a "ratatouille moment" to "Shining the Holy Ark" while playing Dragon Quest on the PS2 for the first time by seeing the characters coming from behind the screen to attack the foes.
The industry has not change since 1997, JRPGs are still few and far between, Final Fantasy, Pok√©mon and Pok√©mon-like (Digimon, Yu-Gi-Oh!, etc...) only help sell the games in those series, some times not even that, Final Fantasy Tactics, for example, has never has been released on any home console in Europe despite the fact that it was hailed has one of the best games ever made; only in 2007 got it's released on the PSP All the PAl version of Square-Enix's games are squashed to make it compatible to our TVs despite the fact that most games either gets adapted to PAL or checks if the TV handles 60Hz and they take six months get here. But it doesn't end there, I will never play games like Disgaea, Atelier Iris or Persona, among may others simply because it's only released in the "important" countries(UK, France and Germany). Xenosaga and .Hack were only partially released.
Hopefully better days will come...
 Just to give out an example A year ago during a class my teacher gave us copy of a letter written to a news paper by a reader, it detailed that in the previous week during review of a car, the reviewer thanked the car maker for having the instructions in Spanish and how the car maker is taking care of the Portuguese consumer by doing so. The reader in his lengthy letter pointed out that there's nothing good about having only Spanish instructions in Portugal.