The ARK Guide: Tutorials, Tricks, Tips and More

ark-guidePro Team’s alternative to Total_Noob’s CEF (TN-C) called ARK, was released recently and along with that came a lot a questions and problems that hopefully this guide will clear up for both experienced users and new ones. Below you can find out everything you need to know including tutorials, tricks, tips and more!

WHAT IS ARK? HOW IS IT ANY DIFFERENT THAN TN-C?

ARK is another CEF (Customer Emulator Firmware) to compete with Total_Noob’s. Both of these run in the Vita’s PSPemu through a kernel exploit. ARK is a port of Pro CFW to the PS Vita from the brilliant minds of Team PRO. CEF will let you play PSP Homebrews and PSP backups on your Vita. It does not allow you to play pirated Vita games, or PS Vita native content. Any CEF is completely safe to use and can not brick your vita. ARK is in sense the same as TN-C however ARK includes features and better compatibility not found in TN-C.

ARK’s features include:

  • PSX game support (Both TN-C and ARK are soundless and you can find a explanation why here, however ARK should have sound soon. Compatibility on ARK is vastly greater compared to TN-C)
  • ISO/CSO game support
  • NoDRM Engine for decrypted DLC playback
  • MS-SpeedBoost (most noticeable on games like Soul Calibur)
  • Stargate Game Patches (fixes several anti-cfw games like Splinter Cell)
  • Customizable Main Menu
  • Plugin support
  • Recovery support
  • ISO-cache support (speed up ISO gaming)

WHAT DO I NEED TO USE ARK AND HOW DO I INSTALL IT?

To use ARK you must own a legit copy of the UNO game (Which is no longer on PSN) on your PS Vita Firmware 2.02 and below in order to use the exploit to run ARK. If you are on another game official firmware with another exploit, right now there is no port, so you’ll have to wait as UNO is the only way to use ARK. There are however a lot more games and firmwares supported in internal work-in-progress revisions.  Stay tuned for more updates!

It is highly recommended that you back up UNO on your computer in case of any errors or issues later on.

>Once you have UNO you’ll need to download ARK from the downloads section here it’s also recommended that you download OPEN CMA, you can find a description of what that is and a download here.

  1. Extract the zip, and copy the folder that matches your version of the game (EU, JP, or US) to your content Manager PSAVEDATA folder. For example: My Documents/CMA/PSAVEDATA/1234567890abcdef/NPEH00020DATA00
  2. Copy the UNO savedata to your PS Vita with the Vita content Manager on your computer
  3. Run UNO on your PS Vita, and press X (or O) to continue, this will load your CEF.

TIP*: You can customize ARKs ymenu by replacing the pictures in the folder with the exact dimensions of 480×272 and in JPEG format. If you’re lazy you can find a few premade ones here! Please note that TNmenu will not work with ARK.


HOW DO I INSTALL ISO, CSO AND HOMEBREW?

On ARK compatibility for ISOs/CSOs and homebrews is greater and most will run out of the box on your Vita with the UNO exploit, but you might often need to package them in a ZIP archive (unless you got a friendly download link which already has it pre-packaged for you.) . Note that in some cases you will have to create the ZIP archive yourself, for example most emulators will not ship with any rom, and you will have to add those yourself to your ZIP file.

 

>>>>Before you start!<<<<

  • Again It is highly recommended that you back up UNO on your computer in case of any errors or issues later on.
  • The files you copy to your Vita with the content manager need to be all uppercase, the file name needs to be less than 8 characters with NO numbers or special characters including spaces, and the extension needs to be 3 uppercase characters.
  • To avoid errors when naming turning on extensions will minimize the issues of having double extensions.                Start->Control Panel->Appearance and Personalization->Folder Options: Here click View tab and clear the “Hide extensions for known file types” check box
  •  Its also recommended that you download OPEN CMA, you can find a description of what that is and a download here.
  • Use store compression when zipping anything
  • I highly recommend using the alternative to transferring content to the Vita by using the FTP homebrew because its more user friendly and extremely faster, just drag and drop on the computer after connecting to the port. Remember the paths for content: ISO is ms0:/ISO and Homebrew is ms0:/PSP/GAME/
  • To copy ROMS for emulators you’ll need to copy that inside the ROM folder inside the folder of that emulator. You may also need to make a SaveStates folder manually so you can save your game later on.

INSTALLING  CONTENT

1. Get your homebrew or ISO/CSO on to your desktop

3. You will need to zip the folder however unlike TN-C you only need to ZIP the homebrew folder instead of doing the file structures like on TN-C. So for example if I wanted to zip FILE FTP I would zip the FILE FTP folder with the EBOOT.PBP inside. For ISO/CSO just zip the game only, again store compression and use the naming conventions.

4. Place your homebrew or ISO/CSO in another savedata folder, do not use the UNO folder to copy content!

5. Use [OPEN] CMA to copy the savedata to your Vita. (Note: You may need to copy more than once for it to show up because Sony likes to make things difficult.)

6. Start your exploit then navigate to the save data folder containing your zip.

7. You should see a zip file under that folder. Select the zip and hit X to install. You can navigate back and play!

TIP*: You can exit any homebrew or ISO/CSO to go back to the menu by pressing L+R+START+DPAD DOWN

TIP*: You can find a work in progress community driven ISO/CSO compatibility list here


 

HOW DO I INSTALL PSX GAMES AND GET BETTER COMPATIBILITY?

To copy and play PSX games I would highly recommend using FILE FTP to transfer your PSX games. To copy all you need to do is put a folder containing the EBOOT.PBP inside ms0:/PSP/GAME. However to copy through CMA just use the above steps by installing like a homebrew. Compatibility is still not perfect with PSX games however on ARK it is extremely better in comparison to TN-C, so you’ll need to make sure its a good rip and of course in EBOOT.PBP format only, its folder needs to be the title ID. There is also a way to get better compatibility by cutting some of the video in the game:

Games have been found to not work due to some of the Video formats included in PSX games. This tutorial will teach you the best way to cut some of the video out, so that it runs without any errors or black screen! (NOTE:* Cutting all video or important ones may make it not work. Always keep a back up and adjust your video cutting accordingly. Cutting Video is optional!)

To cut video from a PSX game you will need:

  • Ultra ISO
  • Pocket ISO v3.0 or 3.2
  • Simple Popstation GUI 3.0

With Ultra ISO you need ALWAYS convert all formats to .BIN before doing anything.

With Pocket ISO you can rip more content and more safe way. (check “Enhanced Movie and XA detection” before “Analyse ISO” and “Process ISO”)

With Popstation you can convert games to Vita with most safe options. (you can use compression level “1″ with it, NOT ZERO – will crash before loading.





NOTE: Your game needs to have maximum compressed after cutting videos, if it’s not 9 level of compression , it’s will crash on start-up on Vita.

Special thanks to SILENT_Pavel for the tip and video.

TIP*: You can exit PSX games on ARK back to ymenu by holding down on the screen and then exiting by using the exit button.

TIP*: You can find a work in progress community driven compatibility list here.


HOW DO I INSTALL PLUGINS ON ARK?

With ARK most plugins work however some will not, but when following the tutorial below double check that you have the correct path to where they are installed.

     KEY: Enable = 1 and Disable = 0

  1. Copy the required PRX files into your PSP Emulator.
  2. Create a plugins.txt file in your Ark Savedata Folder.
  3. Add one (or more) lines for your plugin to plugins.txt; examples below:
    1. umdemu,ms0:/blabla/plugin.prx,1
    2. pops,ms0:/blabla/plugin.prx,1
    3. game,ms0:/blabla/plugin.prx,1

Well hopefully I covered everything, if you follow this guide you shouldn’t have any problems.. Enjoy ARK everyone!

Note by Wololo: We also opened an ARK Dedicated section on /talk if you have more questions!

  1. whiteassassin97’s avatar

    WHY ” to compete with Total_Noob’s”????? wouldnt it be better if these guys work together!! DAMN IT. anyway, nice work..team ark.

    Reply

  2. Jakesiesvita’s avatar

    Excellent how to guide. Thanx

    I have installed ark on my vita and no issues thus far. Really awesome. Thanx to the team for the great work.

    Personally i think is good if there is compention.

    But both firmwares are awesome

    Reply

  3. BrokyPR’s avatar

    can i see umd.iso movies on cef?

    Reply

    1. Jd8531’s avatar

      I am actually not sure about that, that’s a good question. I think you can if its not an interactive one, you’ll need to copy it and move it to the Video folder in ARK.

      Reply

  4. IgnusArmagadan’s avatar

    Are there any places to download themes for ARK? The main thing that’s keeping me from going to ARK is how plain it is. Yeah, it’s got better compatibility, but everything I use on TN-C runs just fine. If I can get it looking better than a black screen with white text, I’ll go ahead and install it.

    Reply

    1. Jd8531’s avatar

      Yep if you go to the tip under how to install ARK I explain how to make your own and where to get some :)

      Reply

      1. IgnusArmagadan’s avatar

        Ah, thank you! I somehow overlooked that last block of text :p

        Reply

      2. IgnusArmagadan’s avatar

        One more question, though with my luck, might be explained in the article as well. I assume that if you wish to, going back to TNMenu is as easy as just copying the save for TNMenu over the ARK save and loading up Uno. Is that true or is there some kind of process you have to go through for that?

        Reply

        1. RicSnp’s avatar

          If i wanted to revert to TN I would just change the two last letters/ numbers at the end of the savedata. I have both TN and ARK installed, I just changed the last 2 numbers on the savedata exploit folder i don’t want to use so i don’t get mixed up.. and this can be achieved using pspfiler

          Reply

          1. IgnusArmagadanI’s avatar

            Ah, very smart way of doing that :)

  5. IgnusArmagadan’s avatar

    I wish my icon wasn’t always an angry one, lol.

    Reply

    1. E’s avatar

      lol. I am with you man. Mine looks a little crazy for my taste lol

      Reply

  6. Jd8531’s avatar

    Sadly TN menu isn’t compatible with ARK for now.

    Reply

  7. mja2288’s avatar

    “It is highly recommended that you back up UNO on your computer in case of any errors or issues later on.”
    How do you back up UNO onto a computer?

    Reply

    1. Jd8531’s avatar

      Connect your Vita to your PC, use content manager and then go to Vita to PC>PSP > and then click on UNO and hit copy.

      Reply

      1. mja2288’s avatar

        Thanks I wasnt aware you could back up the game itself. I just thought you could only save the game saves to the computer.

        Reply

  8. Asch901’s avatar

    This is so hard to do……..it keeps on saying corrupt file. Hence I can’t copy.

    Ok..I gotta ask. Please give me specific step by step on how to copy ISO/CSO onto this new ARK.

    Zip store games into what folder? Is it per game or the whole game which is inside the folder?

    I did everything, but still it says here corrupt file on my CMA. Even the copying cso/iso via uno save folder and try to manually look for the game via recovery method, but I can’t find the cso/iso even. (im x using the FTP way of copying btw)

    Reply

    1. Jd8531’s avatar

      Are you sure you read it step by step? Double check, it must be a simple mistake you’re making. Only zip your ISO/CSO. No folders with store compression and all caps. Then put it in another save games folder and copy that save to the vita.

      Reply

      1. IgnusArmagadanI’s avatar

        What about with Vita FTP? It still has to be zipped? None of my games are coming up anymore, so does that mean I have to delete them all off and then put them back zipped? If so, that’s a lot of hassle for no compatibility boost for my needs, lol.

        Reply

      2. IgnusArmagadanI’s avatar

        Just tried zipping Crystal Defenders and putting it back on there since it’s a pretty small game. Nope, doesn’t come up. ARK seems to be LESS compatible for me somehow =\

        Reply

        1. bibo’s avatar

          I was having the same problem. I figured it out… When they say all caps, they mean EVERYTHING.
          ex.
          http://FTP.zip does not show up

          http://FTP.ZIP does show up

          try that and see if it helps

          Reply

          1. IgnusArmagadan’s avatar

            They already are since they were there from TN-C which I had to go by the same rules as ARK is going by. Everything IS in caps. All my emulators and homebrew apps work (like Vita FTP and SNES9X). I have 4 ISO’s and 1 CSO, all in ISO folder, 8 characters long, ALL CAPS and they jst don’t show up, not even as corrupted data, as if they don’t exist.

  9. IgnusArmagadanI’s avatar

    Oh well, looks like it’s back to the old exploit I go…

    Reply

  10. clorbag’s avatar

    just a question, finally got my iso to transfer to the save data folder and can find it in ark, i hit install and it says installing, how long should this take? its been like 10 min. its phantasy star portable 2

    Reply

    1. Jd8531’s avatar

      It can take awhile, that’s normal. That’s why I’d suggest using FTP because its faster.

      Reply

  11. Squall’s avatar

    Is it possible to get the copy of UNO you need from the Internet? I.e. not through psn? Ive not updated my vita firmware ever so I’m on 1.8, just need the exploited UNO game.

    Is there a guide anywhere on using a FTP programme to put stuff to and from your vita? My content manager wont let me do anything without asking me to update the firmware?

    Reply

    1. Jd8531’s avatar

      Nope it’s not possible. For the Content manager problem download Open CMA r 4.5

      Reply

  12. clorbag’s avatar

    i heard there is a way to share games, i so ill share my copy of uno, and thanks jd i finally got my iso to run just had to wait like 30 min for the game to install from ark.

    Reply

    1. Jd8531’s avatar

      No problem, and just a heads up there is no way to gameshare on the Vita.

      Reply

  13. Rafael’s avatar

    Boa tarde, como eu sou novo aqui e li varios post inclusive este, não tem como baixar o UNO em algum site, pq consegui fazer todos os procedimentos mas nao tenho o game, quando descobri este post já não havia o UNO na PSN!!!

    Reply

  14. SlayDK’s avatar

    hi im new at this,but what do u mean about saving into another savedata in step #4?how come we cant use the UNO savedata for this?

    Reply

    1. wololo’s avatar

      the risk with using the UNO savedata is that you could mess up with the exploit, which would end up locking you out of ARK. I believe it would work, it just adds risk if you mess up when creating the files.

      Reply

  15. Alex’s avatar

    When will you have another ARK CEF (Customer Emulator Firmware) because I just miss the Uno download, so I had to update to 2.05. Thanks & all I got to say is that you guys are brilliant! I’m a big fan of custom firmware like i own a psp with custom firmware. I knew it was gonna get hack & sooner or later theirs gonna be a point where the psvita it’s gonna be fully hacked with more things added!

    Reply

  16. go1den3ye’s avatar

    UNO is back on EU PSN. just saying if you haven’t updated to 2.05 yet and missed it the last time.

    Reply

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