The last Zelda game I played (as in, to the end) was Link To The Past, and I think it was on David's old SNES. Or it may have been on ZSNES, I'm not entirely sure anymore. Before that was the first Zelda, which I actually finished on its original console!
Seems that the years have been kind to the Zelda formula: Octoroks and Tektites on the world map, Bats, Skeletons and Wizrobes underground, Boomerangs and Arrows to throw about, Pieces of Heart to collect, Swords, Bottles, hidden passages, name it, it's all here. I miss Dodongo though. :p
One thing to note about the Zelda series... they're really good with level design, and the use of space. The overworld of Minish Cap is a good example. The land of Hyrule is relatively smaller this time around compared to Link To The Past, but the game mechanics of having the ability to occasionally shrink to insect-size and the ability to unlock new areas with kinstone fusions mean you'll be visiting most areas several times, making the most of the space. Of course, there's the usual Zelda mechanics of passageways hidden by bombs, secrets accessible only with the use of tools, etc. Maybe it's just that I haven't played a Zelda game for so long, but I'm just amazed at how much stuff they can pack into it.
The puzzles were ok, the usual block puzzles and stuff. Nothing too difficult, but not too easy either. I wish they had put some super-difficult puzzles for optional sidequests though. (The sidequests here mostly rely on collecting kinstones.) I think something along the lines of Lufia II's "World's Most Difficult Trick" would have been nice. I was particularly disappointed by the "walking" puzzles in the final dungeon, where you have to walk over a certain set of tiles continuously without repeating any tiles. The two such puzzles I encountered were straightforward. Why introduce that type of puzzle if it was going to be so easy?
Boss battles were ok, with some difficult ones being the Octorok in the Temple of Droplets, and any battle that needed me to split into four. I guess the clone battles would have been easier if I had gotten the "fast spirit bar charging" upgrade thingy. The final boss was moderately difficult, but then again I only had two bottles. With four bottles I might have started yawning. :p
When I was in college and had more free time, I would have surely completed everything there was in the game, but these days, I just finish it and be done with it. (Same with Star Ocean 3, I only managed to beat one optional dungeon and boss.)
Overall Minish Cap is a good game, as I'm pretty sure every Zelda is. The designers are still pretty good, not many boring parts in the game (the figurine thing was boring though... mainly because the interface was so tedious.) Made me wish I had had a chance to play the N64/GC outings.