This is absolutely my favorite part of Twilight Princess. Link finally gets to ride his own war boar!
When Link touches down in the Gerudo Desert, the first thing he sees is a tower rising in the far distance. This is the Arbiter’s Grounds, and Midna tells him that the Mirror of Twilight can be found there. She then explains some of the legends of the Twili people, expanding on what Link had previously been told by the Lanayru light spirit. Long ago, the Twili used their magic to claim the Triforce, but for their pride and the violence they perpetrated they were exiled from Hyrule into the Twilight Realm by the goddesses. According to Midna, the Twili have lived in the Twilight Realm for centuries and are now mostly peaceful.
The desert is gorgeously vast. It’s a really cool area to explore, especially at night, when the poe ghosts come out.
Smack in the middle of the area is an encampment of bulblins. Link attacks them and proceeds to steal one of their war boars, which are called bullbos. Riding a bullbo is much more fun than riding Epona, as bullbos, when spurred, go crazy and crash into or through any obstacles in their way. If the player is feeling ambitious, Link can destroy the entire bulblin encampment. If the player is me, Link can ride his bullbo all around the desert searching for treasure and golden insects.
North of the bulblin encampment is the Bulblin Base, a makeshift structure presided over by King Bulblin, who Link finally gets to fight on foot. This is actually a tough battle, because this guy is very good at defending and getting in hits, and he does a lot of damage. When Link defeats him, he sets the base on fire, trapping Link inside. He leaves his bullbo behind, however, so Link is able to charge out of the burning enclosure on the back of a giant pig.
This is why I play video games, I’m not even joking.
On the other side of the Bulbin Base are the Arbiter’s Grounds. This dungeon is probably one of my favorites in the Zelda series, but I have some serious Thoughts about what it is and what it means. For now I want to link to a post from one of my favorite Tumblr sites, The Architecture of the Legend of Zelda, on how the Arbiter’s Grounds is constructed.
From afar, this is quite possibly the most striking complex in all of Hyrule. Its monumentality is a direct derivation of Egyptian and Roman models, which also gives it the distinct markings of empire. This is not the first time that the Hylian civilization has been likened to Rome, as there are a great many parallels between the two, both historically and architecturally. But even though it is familiarly Western in nature, confusion and doubt plagues this location.
( Header image from GlitterBerri’s translation of Hyrule Historia )