If you has asked me, the first time I beat Final Fantasy X, how long the characters traveled together and how much time passed in the game world, I would probably have guessed several months. It’s a huge, epic game and when you’re done it feels like the end of Lord of The Rings: The whole world is different, and ages have passed.
But on subsequent plays I noticed there is an implied day / night cycle. We can judge where one day begins and another ends by keeping an eye on the lighting and the sky. Using this as a guide, how many days pass within the game world between the opening credits and the final scene? How long does Tidus spend in Spira? Let’s look:
Play blitzball in Zanarkand at night. Get attacked by Sin. Team up with Auron and then get pulled into Spira. Wake up in the ruins. Build fire. Meet Rikku. Get Kidnapped. Salvage Airship. Get attacked by Sin and knocked into water.
This is a very slow-paced day. Tidus wakes up on the Besaid beach and meets Wakka. Travel to the village. Enter temple, do the trials, and then end the day at the campfire.
Wake up in Besaid village. Leave town. Fight Kimari. Take the boat to Killika. Fight Sin on the boat. Arrive at Killika at sunset. Yuna does the sending and then everyone calls it a night.
Wake up at the Killika inn. Visit the temple. Meet the #!$&ing Goers. Get back on the boat and set sail for Luca. Spend the evening talking to everyone and learning the Ject shot.
Wake up on the boat. Arrive in Luca. Meet Mica and Seymor. Rescue Yuna during round 1 of the tournament and then compete in Round 2. Humiliate the #%@!ing Goers. Fight Sin in the arena and reunite with Auron. Then travel the north road to Rin’s Travel Agency. Talk with Yuna at sunset and then sleep at Rin’s.
(The entire tournament in one day? If all these people from around Spira travel for days to get here, they ought to expect more than a day of entertainment. However, we never see the sun go down, and there is no break in the action, so I guess this all really was supposed to happen in a single day. What a ripoff!)
Wake up and fight the Chocobo eater. Travel the Mi’ihen highroad. Take part in Operation Mi’ihen. Fight Sin. Lose badly. Travel to D’jose temple and do the trials.
Wake up at D’jose temple. Travel road to Moonflow, and then ride the Shoopuf. Rescue Yuna from the extractor and reach the other side. Reunite with Rikku, and have her join the party. Visit Seymor at Gaudosalam and see the Zanarkand recordings. Then Seymor proposes to Yuna. They discuss it, and then cross the Thunder Plains to to Rin’s Travel Agency.
Cross the second half of the Thunder Plains. Go through the woods. Stop at Rin’s. Get attacked at the lake and fight the Al Bhed tank. Go the the temple and Fight Seymor. Do the trials. Escape the temple and confront the Guado at the lake. Fall into the abyss under the frozen lake.
The is no explicit day / night change, but we get moved from one area of the world to another. It seems to be about the right time for a night to pass.
Wake up, mysteriously, on Bikanel island. Cross the island and find the Guado attacking. Head through the complex. They have a key turning point in the game, where Tidus finally learns what’s going on. Get on the airship. Blow up the Al Bhed home. Fly to Bevelle. Fight the Guado onboard and then fight Everae. Crash the wedding, help Yuna escape, and then head for the trials. Get captured.
They stand trial and are tossed into Via Purifico. While Yuna faces issaru, Tidus faces Everae. (again) They escape in the evening and fight Seymor (Again!) just after sunset. Then they meet in the woods outside Bevelle at night. Tidus and Yuna meet at the lake and have their moment together.
Wake up at the campsite in the woods. Optionally get a chocobo and visit Reminem Temple. Then trek all the way over the Calm Lands. Fight the guados at the bridge. Optionally detour into the sunken cave to visit the stolen Fayth. Then head for Mt. Gagazet and and meet with the Ronsos to get passage up the mountain. Kimari must fight his brothers. Then climb all the way up the mountain. This is the densest fighting in the game, and the climb takes a while. Reach the top and confront Seymor. (Again!) Then head through the caverns, open the way, and reach the Zanarkand summit. Fight the guardian. Tidus has his encounter with the Fayth. Several conversations and cutscenes follow.
Finally, reach the base camp on the outskirts of Zanarkand at sunset. The party rests until nightfall, talking. Once it is dark, they set out into the ruined city.
They fight their way in and do the trials. Then they fight the Spectral Keeper. Finally they reach the inner chambers and meet Yunalesca. Things go sideways and they kill her.
Talk about long days!
At sunrise they emerge from the place and see the Airship waiting for them.
All the rest of their efforts seem to happen during one day. It stays daytime until the very end, when we see them gathered on top of the airship at sunset for the final scene.
So there it is. The whole thing takes 11 days.
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