There were four play modes available for the DS's first installment in the Legend of Zelda series: sailing, dungeon, overworld, and boss modes. I played the dungeon in order to get a taste of the core element of this series, which is the exploratory puzzle-solving approach to dungeon design, the usage of tools, and the combat.
Let's get one thing out of the way: this is not a classic Zelda game with classic Zelda gameplay. Link is controlled entirely through the use of a Navi fairy. She talked to him occasionally, but mostly she was used as the point of contact between the stylus and the touch screen. The game was entirely touch controlled. To move Link, I simply had to drag the stylus across the screen and he would move in the direction I indicated. To attack, I tapped an enemy with the stylus and Link would jump forward and slash at it. To just attack in thin air, I just rubbed the screen with the stylus. Spin attacks were done by drawing a circle around Link.
The controls were extremely intuitive and very fun, and the new approach to playing a Zelda game made it a refreshing experience. Once I got the boomerang, the benefits of this play style really came out. The boomerang was displayed at the top of the screen; to choose which tool I wanted to use, I tapped it, then drew a line to indicate where I wanted the boomerang to go. Then Link threw it, and it followed the path, no matter how complex.
It was clearly the first dungeon of the game, so the combat and puzzles I experienced weren't terribly difficult, but the game was a blast to play. The Nintendo rep who was there with me also told me that there was a multiplayer mode, ala Four Swords, but I didn't get a chance to try that out. What was there, though, was a blast. This may be a Zelda totally unlike any other, but the first dungeon indicated that it will stand up well alongside the others.