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“I live my life a quarter mile at a time. Nothing else matters: not the mortgage, not the store, not my team and all their bulls—. For those ten seconds or less, I’m free.”

-Dom, The Fast And The Furious

Drag Racer: Pro Tuner by XMG Studio Inc. is a side-view racing game that features dozens of cars (and more with future updates), endless customization and upgrade options, multi-player racing, and social networking integration so that you can share your pimped ride with the rest of the world through Facebook.

Drag Racer starts you out with a bottom-end “Citizen Si” (my gearhead friends tell me this is basically a Civic; though the cars in the game are all recognizable, their names are fictional). From here you race your way through increasingly difficult street races and tournaments, earning money to upgrade and customize your car in pursuit of ever-faster speeds and more expensive vehicles.

Ocean Beach Sunset, Ugly Purple Wheels

Where this game really stands out is in the customization and upgrade options: these guys clearly know and love cars. There are as of this writing ten different aspects of your car which you can upgrade, from the engine and drivetrain through to the intake and exhaust, and every system in between. Like a more standard fantasy RPG, each upgrade affects your stats to give you greater advantage in horsepower, torque, clutch, and weight. You can also tune certain aspects of your car, like adjusting the gear ratios (in each of six gears!) for greater acceleration or top speed.

When customizing you can both change physical components on the exterior (bumper, rims, hood, spoiler), as well as paint and decal your car. You can even choose a photo from your library to apply to your car (pictured in screenshot: a lovely Ocean Beach sunset applied to my own ride).

Gameplay is simple yet surprisingly deep for what is essentially an enhanced port of a Flash game. When the light goes green you slam on the accelerator and swipe to shift through six gears with proper timing. There are a few tricks and tactics for losing your opponent which I’ll let you discover for yourself, but I will give you this hint: read the tips on the loading screen. Some of them are invaluable.

Drag Racer has a somewhat steep difficulty curve at the beginning (for me anyway), but once I got a couple key upgrades (actually just the one: weight) I found myself picking up momentum and money. From there it just becomes increasingly addictive as your progress through the tournaments and find yourself eagerly tapping back to the upgrade and customization screens in order to further trick out your street racer.

I'm Only Losing Because I Took A Screenshot

I can see the gameplay getting repetitive fairly quickly, though I’m not particularly into cars or racing so I may not be the best person to judge that. I can tell you without a doubt that you will not run out of car, upgrade, or customization combinations any time soon. The game is definitely worth the price tag.


  • Great graphics and sound
  • Simple and addictive
  • Endless customization and upgrade options
  • Openfeint and Facebook integration


  • In-app purchases are a bit tricky to find (the only one I found showed up as a UI pop-up because I tried to buy something without any money)
  • A bit difficult at the beginning
  • Awkward reach for the nitrous boost button. You need a third finger in the mix, and I just kept missing it at critical moments. Just too close to the accelerator maybe?
  • Repetitive. Though the upgrade and customization paths branch off almost in to infinity, the basic gameplay itself offers few surprises.

Bottom Line

Drag Racer: Pro Tuner has very few drawbacks. It’s a well-polished game with (so far) frequent updates, that offers countless hours of entertainment for fans of the genre.

Note: the photo customization feature was not working and was only recently fixed with an update, so comments on the App Store that it doesn’t work are out of date.


  • iPhone App Review: Drag Racer: Pro Tuner Screenshot
  • iPhone App Review: Drag Racer: Pro Tuner Screenshot

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