Gratuitous Space Battles.
The game is exactly what it says on the tin: really pretty (even though sprite-based) battles in space between slow crawling capital ships and swift little fighters. The backgrounds are full of the Technicolor glowing nebulae that the Hubble space telescope and Babylon 5 have made us come to expect in space. What's a little odd is the focus of the game. It's not a flight sim with RPG elements, like Elite, or 4X game like Master of Orion. It's not even a turn-based RTS combat simulator like Starfleet Command. Instead, it really is more like a tower defense game, except your towers are spaceships which crawl slowly across the screen towards enemy spaceships which are crawling slowly the other way toward your ships. You don't command ships in the battle; instead, you set things up beforehand, unleash the fleets and sit back to watch how it turns out.
After you've designed your ships, it time to see how they actually perform in combat. The game comes with some preset scenarios. When you load one of these up it first tells you about any special conditions. These can range from the classic Wrath of Khan nebula situation where shields don't work, to logistical limitations on which pieces of equipment or hull types can be used. You are then shown a map of the territory in which the combat will take place. Maps vary in size, so small little skirmishes don't necessarily have to start with your ships crawling diagonally across a vast expanse towards the enemy for hours before the fighting actually starts. You'll see the enemy fleet already in its line of battle. This allows you to arrange your fleet in tactical response. Usually, this will probably mean some variation on the denied flank, but since you can run any scenario as often as you like, you can try out all sorts of different configurations and combinations of ships.
As you're arranging your ships, you can give them commands that they will carry out once the battle starts. These consist of which ships to engage in combat at which distances, formation and escort commands, and whether or not to attempt to withdraw from the front lines when they start taking too much damage. As with most computer-based tactical AI, the actions of your ships can be both predictable and, at times, really wonky. This does allow you to achieve certain effects in a roundabout sort of way. For instance, if you don't want your fighters to speed ahead straight for the enemy, you can assign them to escort a fragile frigate with paper-thin armor. The fighters will then swirl around the frigate as it crawls towards the enemy, and then swarm over the enemy once they've destroyed the frigate.
After the battle you can review reports on which ships and weapons did (or suffered) the most damage. These reports are not quite as detailed as I would like, and they don't tell you which of your ships hurt any particular ships on the other side. Or at least, I haven't been able to figure that out in the data I've seen. Still, it's pretty easy to figure out which of your weapons are effectively harming the enemy and which are just pinging ineffectively off their shields.
And that's the game. Rinse and repeat as desired. You can set up a situation and fleet and challenge others to take it on, or accept challenges others have created. It's quick, easy to get into, and fun to play. It doesn't require a whole lot of time, and if the space battles are crawling on a little too slowly, you can always speed up the action. The music is appropriately strident, full of drums and horns, but I imagine it's going to get old very quickly. Still, the music and eye-candy are surprisingly good for a game that sells for only US $10. If you do get bored with the fleets provided by the basic game, a few modded fleets (some based on IPs like Star Wars and Starship Yamamoto, a.k.a. Star Blazers) are available, as are official add-ons of new fleets to fight with or against. At the price, it's hard to argue with. But there's no substitute for downloading the free demo and trying it for yourself.