PSX on the Vita: An interview with the mysterious Vita Hacker

As our forum member The Z revealed recently some videos from an anonymous hacker showing PSX games running on the PS Vita, I tried to get in contact (through intermediate people) with that hacker for an interview. The hacker first refused, but I’m kind of a tough guy (j/k) and I insisted a bit. He accepted at my second request via an intermediate person, and shared some of his info on the hack with me.

The mysterious hacker (let me call him Tony, I don’t know his real name as we chatted on IRC) recently published a dump of the PSP emulator’s (on the Vita) internals, a breakthrough that was followed by a video showcasing PSX games running on the Playstation Vita (A feature that the console does not have officially, for now).

Despite these two events being some of the most major pieces of news in the young PS Vita scene, Tony is not your typical scene hacker: a 16 year-old enjoying “Parkour” and playing the piano on his free time, he told me in an introductory comment: “None of my friends know that I have skills in programming. I haven’t written any code anymore since the video showing PSX on PSVita. I neither need respectability nor fame. That’s why I initially refused the interview

As I emphasized the importance of this hack for the scene, Tony was very humble on the subject: “Well, my exploit isn’t something special. Yes, kernel exploits are very rare, but I don’t feel like a hacker, as some people do. What I do is sharing all my work. I hate people who show off with their work [then don't release]“. As I asked if he would release his exploit, he answered: “If you guys want, I’ll release the kernel exploit with all the source code“.

We however discussed the external pressure hackers can get from such exploits. On the one hand, concerned gamers (“Oh no, an ISO loader is the last thing we need“), and on the other hand, hackers themselves (“Sony will patch this exploit“). “GUYS! Where is your real life? Sony will patch this exploit, I know, but do we really care? kernel exploit are here to enjoy the console“, Tony said. When discussing the impact of hackers’ work for Sony’s business, he told me “VHBL is harmless, but of course people wouldn’t buy any PSP games on the PSN anymore with a PSP kernel exploit“.

Tony’s exploit is actually a fully functional CFW running on the PSP emulator of the Vita. “I just wrote my own CFW on it. It’s just a normal CFW, nothing special. It does everything a typical CFW does…plugins, ISO games, increased CPU speed, PSX games, homebrews..etc. [For PSX Games,] I just emulated all POPS modules. It’s not really difficult to get that running. Theoretically I can emulate the whole VSH too ;)

As I asked if he was looking deeper into the Vita’s internals, to hack more than the PSP emulator, Tony showed no interest in the Vita itself. “Emulators and PSP games on my PSVita are enough :). I don’t have any Vita game :(. I spare my money for disco, clothes and alcohol =P

I asked Tony if he wanted to add something, he replied: “I don’t need to show you guys how cool I am. I just ported the CFW to my PSVita in only 4 hours in the night, when I didn’t have anything else to do. But look at these guys, who are so proud with their skills…please?! I am proud that I play the piano and do Parkour. But these nerds…look at them, they really have no life. You guys may be now angry at me. You guys may hate me, but I don’t care. I care about girls and friends. I care about my family and about school. If you are now angry, do yourself a favor, shut down the pc and go swimming…
I know what I talk about, I used to be a real nerd too, but now, everything has changed :)

If anything, it’s humbling to me that a 16 year-old guy has already achieved bigger hacks than I’ll ever achieve in my life, and has already realized that there’s more to life than being a geek :)

At the time of this interview I didn’t have access to the hack itself, but got sufficient proof that the person I talked to had the skills to code a CFW for the PSP (and, by extension, for the emulator on the vita). Let’s just hope for the best for the scene in the near future :)

  1. Norml’s avatar

    Blah blah blah, imagine that, someone worthy of such hack(so it seems, still no public release but why do that when $ony only updates to patch hacks and reduce compatablity(latest update v1.69, yet again, still no PSP AdHOC fix and now certain VITA games have stopped working…useless company $ony has become.)

    Reply

    1. fate6’s avatar

      the hell are you talking about ?

      ad-hoc was fixed on 1.66 and the compatibility has increased since then and vita games stop working ? the @#$$ you on ?

      Reply

      1. whitey_mcguee’s avatar

        Hahahaha!!!!!

        Reply

  2. auron’s avatar

    just be patient, it will come out, we just have to wait till after sony’s big update the 2.0 and I’m sure we will see some thing.it would be completely retarded to have it out now while we know of a big update coming within weeks and patch something so difficult to come by while there is a OFW coming soon. so give it time.

    Reply

  3. whitey_mcguee’s avatar

    Honestly I hope that he does stay in the shadows. I see how the dev’s are treated in the community. If I had those capabilities, im not sure if I would stick around gotten abuse. I cant blame him for wanting to enjoy his youth. I do mma, am a manager, repair electronics in my free time and spend time with my wife. I say good for him, I just hope someone gets a hold of the exploit and is willing to release it.

    Reply

  4. Sylen7Nato’s avatar

    wow, very exciting news!!…ill be waiting patiently/eagerly to see what happens…either way, i still love my vita…many thanks to all who support the CFW scene and continue to stick it to sony!! keep up the great work.

    Reply

  5. Rain’s avatar

    Ah, another victim of popular thought. Sure, live your life and don’t waste all your time on games and hacking, but since when is having the ability to hack “geeky”. If I could do what he does, I’d be so proud of myself. I hate how people think that video games are “geeky”, and that it’s only cool to be at a bar and watch football.
    But hey, maybe he isn’t a victim of popular thought. He could truly enjoy swimming, parkour, and disco, but I feel like a lot of people act like that just to fit in because that’s “what’s cool”. They force themselves to like things that they really may not. I think that living to please others is lame (not saying he does) not being a hacker. What happened to being yourself?

    Reply

  6. Mem’s avatar

    Any moronic troglodyte with a pulse can get laid or jump around, and he has one of the only Vita kernel exploits in the world and thinks nothing of it?

    What a waste of a brain.

    Reply

  7. Neku’s avatar

    I’ll leave this here
    http://www.ehow.com/how_2156763_tell-someone-has-big-ego.html

    No I’m not a “nerd”, I also study music and play instruments, go outside, but honestly this guy seems like a big jerk.

    Reply

  8. anothergamer’s avatar

    “i hate people who show off with their work then dont release” sounds like a hypocrite to me

    Reply

    1. Roberto1’s avatar

      He never showed off and I dont think he even made a video of it.We only know it exists because wololo tracked him down :)

      Reply

  9. Green Ranger’s avatar

    He just won’t release it for now, because we should wait till Sony drops a new Mayor FW for the Vita with probably add a Flashplayer (better Html5) or PSX Support to the Vita and the we have the possibility to play newer Games…

    For now, it would just be a waste on FW 1.69 ;)

    be patient, he said, he will release it soon.

    Reply

  10. auron’s avatar

    who knows when sony will push out the FW 2.0 i want my psX games.

    Reply

  11. anothergamer’s avatar

    I can be patient, but how ironic would it be if fw 2.0 played psx games

    Reply

  12. Semiroundboss’s avatar

    Somehow I get the feeling this guy’s an ass.

    Reply

    1. CC’s avatar

      Strange, I have that same feeling. Maybe it’s the hypocritical statement of “I hate people who show off with their work [then don't release]“.

      Reply

  13. auron’s avatar

    wololo, have you tried it yet?

    Reply

  14. Yifan Lu’s avatar

    Hmm, I don’t know too many real “hackers”, but the handful I do know is nothing like the stereotype this guy used. I mean, no offense, but it seems like he’s describing the characters of that 1990s movie Hackers. The people I do know are pretty interesting and do have lives outside of computers but they just don’t tell the public because what’s the point. Also, some of his statements are a bit contradictory: “I don’t need to show you guys how cool I am.” and the very next sentence “I just ported the CFW to my PSVita in only 4 hours in the night”. If he doesn’t need to show how cool he is and if he doesn’t care what people think, what’s the point of saying he ported a CFW? “I am proud that I play the piano and do Parkour. But these nerds…look at them, they really have no life.” Isn’t that more proving he’s cool? And again, why generalize and elevate himself if he “neither need respectability nor fame”?

    Reply

    1. wololo’s avatar

      You’d be surprised at the world of console hacking. The more I get into it, the more I realize it is split between “kids” and “grown ups”, and those are two different worlds. Mind you, age is not always accurate to classify some hackers in the “kids” or “grownups” sections, it’s just about the way some people behave and think :)
      It is very possible he has always been in contact with people in the “kids” section.

      Reply

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