Dance Central 3 '70s Lush crew

For games like Dance Central 3, it’s not unusual to see the addition of new downloadable songs for post-launch support. But this time developer Harmonix is trying something a little different with the release of Dance Central 3 DJ, a companion app powered by the much-touted Xbox SmartGlass platform for tablets and smartphones.

First announced during Microsoft’s press conference at this year’s Electronic Entertainment Expo, Xbox SmartGlass is a software-based application meant to supplement the experience — whether you’re watching a TV show or playing a game — on your Xbox 360 console. You don’t need a Windows phone or tablet to use it, as the app will also be available for iOS and Android devices.

Dance Central 3 DJ, shown to us last week in San Francisco, is one of the first concrete examples of SmartGlass we’ve seen since E3. Harmonix representatives effortlessly rearranged songs and playlists using a Windows 8 tablet (the pictures below are from the mobile version) as journalists played Dance Central 3 on a big screen.

Here’s a rundown of what we saw:

The digital DJ

With its automatic song selection, Dance Central 3’s Party Time mode already makes it easy for anyone to start playing without navigating through menus. But the DJ app goes one step further by queuing up a list of songs in real time without interrupting the game itself, something that’s especially useful if your friends have specific song requests. Party Time’s setting are adjustable as well, such as difficulty, the length of songs (short or full), and the type of dance (Battle, Strike a Pose, Make Your Move, and so on). But you’ll have to wait until the current song and performance is over for those changes to take effect.

You can also manage your custom playlists, like adding or deleting songs and rearranging the order in which they pop up. And if you want to buy more songs, you can look through Harmonix’s music store and add tracks to your shopping cart. You can’t actually buy the songs in the app, however, so you’ll still have to do that from within Dance Central 3.

Stat tracking and Facebook

Outside of streamlining the multiplayer modes, you can use the app to take a peek at your progress in the leaderboards or see how you’re doing on Harmonix-issued challenges (such as scoring a certain number of points in a specific song). For fitness-minded players, you can check on your calorie-burning goals, adjust them if need be, and compare your results from week to week. Any changes you make to your goals are also shown in the game.

And if you’re not too embarrassed about any photos taken by the motion-detecting Kinect camera while playing Dance Central 3, or have sneaky friends who just don’t care, you can upload them to your Facebook account and view them through the app.

Dance Central 3 DJ looks like it’ll be useful for the franchise’s fans, but as one of the first apps to use Xbox SmartGlass, it doesn’t really do anything that we haven’t seen in other mobile apps before. Currently it lacks a specific release date, but Harmonix said it’s ready to go whenever Microsoft decides to make it live. It could be out as soon as Oct, 26, when Xbox SmartGlass launches alongside the Windows 8 operating system.

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