Playstation Vita hacked: Run emulators, homebrew, and more games on PSTV

Works on latest firmware 3.60

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If you’ve been hankering to run emulators, homebrew, and classic PC games on your PlayStation Vita, well, you’re in luck, as the HENkaku hack now enables it, as well as allowing all Vita games to play on the PlayStation TV.

The hack currently only works on the latest firmware (3.60) and can be downloaded via the Vita’s web browser. This will install an app called Molecular Shell that acts as a file transfer protocol as well as a gate for homebrew. The hack must be run whenever the Vita is powered down or runs out of battery, but, fortunately, it takes only a few seconds.

Currently, there are various emulators available for Game Boy, Game Boy Advance, Neo Geo Pocket, Genesis, and SNES, as well as a couple homebrew games and ports of Quake and Doom. I tried everything that is available currently, and it is all in very early stages, with most of the emulators having some issues with sound or not running full speed. That is, aside from the RetroArch Genesis emulator, which seems near flawless. These classic games look so damned good on the original Vita’s OLED screen, as the colors practically pop off the screen. Oooooh weeeee!

That said, there is now a way to install an app that launches VHBL, a PSP-based homebrew menu where you can run more fully developed emulators for the time being. The process is a bit more involved, but is by no means difficult.

For those of us with a PSTV, there is a Whitelister app that quickly installs a hack to allow playing any Vita game on it, not just the ones specifically made available by developers — meaning you’ll be able to play games like Uncharted: Golden Abyss and the Ratchet & Clank Collection on your television.

Thankfully, the hack doesn’t enable piracy of Vita games, with the developers stating they made it difficult to do so:

We are all developers by trade and we understand the problem of piracy that usually arises from breaking the security features of a device. The usual response from hackers is “not our problem” but we believe we can do better. We carefully designed HENkaku to be as permissive as possible for developers to write homebrew supporting private APIs and the option to bypass sandboxes. However, we also made sure to make it as difficult as possible to repurpose our tools to enable piracy. While piracy is always inevitable, we will not make it easy.”

Looks like the Vita finally has some games. Zing!

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Jed Whitaker
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