The PSVita had a tough time in the West but does hacking the thing make it a worthwhile purchase even in 2018?
In the age of cheap smartphones with surprisingly good specifications, some may think that buying a 6.5 year old portable console that was a commercial failure doesn’t make sense. However, that isn’t exactly case since many talented scene developers have worked hard to make the PSVita more and more worth buying!
What is HENkaku and what can I do with it?
In a few words, HENkaku/taiHEN is a native hack for the PSVita that runs on consoles running FW 3.60 BUT it will eventually (sometime later this year or next year) be available for consoles running FW 3.65-3.68 thanks to TheFlow! HENkaku was originally released in late July 2016 and that gave a new lease of life to the PSVita but what did the community’s efforts result in?
Hacked PSVitas offer you:
First and foremost, you can emulate the PSP and PSX natively via Adrenaline, TheFlow’s ePSP hack. This is especially great for people, who like me, have their PSP damaged up beyond reasonable repair! Adrenaline has XMB built-in, can use plugins and run PSP homebrew which means that it’s great for people wanting to experience the PSP’s glory days again!
As you can see, Adrenaline gives you the full XMB experience which you can further customise to your liking! (CXMB with the Ika Musume theme is shown in the picture)
Talking about emulation, there are many RetroArch cores available for the PSVita and some standalone emulators such as mGBA, pFBA and Basilisk II.
Apart from emulators, there’s also a great selection of native homebrew with a great number of open-source game ports, Lua games and regular apps that aren’t games.
Some examples of homebrew available include VitaQuake III, Tetromino (an excellent Tetris clone that also has a Touhou mod available), StarKiller 2D (a PSVita exclusive), Chocolate DOOM, a Half-Life port, various fan-made Zelda games and Blackout (a great Lights Out clone written in Lua).
A decent selection of plugins which improve the UI (ShellBat), dim the screen further than default (VitaBright), let you overclock games (oclockvita) and use a DS3/DS4 on your Vita (ds3/4vita) among others.
The ability to play backups. I know it’s like the elephant in the room but it’s no use trying to hide it considering there are websites and even a subreddit dedicated to it.
OpenJazz in action on the PSVita!
Custom themes made by the community and you can check a great repository of them by following this link.
The option to use microSD cards for storage with SD2Vita adapters so you won’t have to spend a fortune on an overpriced Vita Memory Card!
Many other things such as editing save data with GoHAN, reading books/PDFs with Bookr MOD Vita and learning to code via Lua Player Plus or ONELua.
Obviously, you can do other things that Sony wanted you do in the firstplace such as play PSVita games, browse the internet and use PS3/PS4 Remote Play. Talking about native PSVita games, you should surely check them out if you’re an anime fan!
Should I get a PSVita? What should I look out for?
Do any of the above interest you? If so, I’d recommend taking a look at local markets first for a decently priced device. Among the many things to look out for, it’s recommended to keep an eye for the following:
First and foremost, determine which PSVita model you want the most as there’s the Fat and Slim model which have different features.
It is important to determine which PSVita model is the best for you since price isn’t the only factor here!
To determine that, simply check out this article. The article was written a while ago but most of it’s still correct!
Preferably, get one running PSVita firmware 3.60 or lower so that you can enjoy the above immediately.
However, if you can’t get your hands on a console running that firmware, go for a console running FW 3.61-3.65 since FW 3.65 will be getting untethered (runs at boot) HENkaku/taiHEN in the near future. Consoles running FW 3.67-3.68 will only be getting temporary HENkaku/taiHEN that will need to be applied on every boot!
Obviously, look out for the physical condition of the item since having a broken button or a bad battery would ruin your experience. If buying online, make sure you buy from a seller with a good reputation!
Remember, as time goes by, prices may increase especially in Europe/North America since the console didn’t do well there so not many may be available for sale! However, you may still be able to secure a sizeable discount from shops that may be looking to clear their PSVita stock.
Notepad Vita in action! (with a note describing my main use for it 😉 )
Going back to the first question, I can personally say that I wasn’t interested in any PSVita native titles when I got my console (and I’m still not into native games even nowadays)! This means that there’s much more appeal than a handful of Japanese anime games, an opinion that some people still hold to this day.
Obviously, you can also get a PSTV which is a PSVita for your television. I personally don’t like the concept too much since I got my PSVita for its portability but it may still interest you!
Now that PSVita homebrew development has drastically slowed down, it’s almost safe to say that there won’t be a lot of new stuff in the future. Hopefully, this article gave you an idea of whether you should spend your hard-earned money on a PSVita or not!
To see more of what hacked PSVitas offer, simply go to VitaDB!
Huge thanks go to Team Molecule, TheFlow, Rinnegatamante, rsn8887, usineur, motoharu, Svennd, the ONELua team, cpasjuste, fgsfds, VitaHEX, Freakler, TheheroGAC and many others for the great stuff we have today!
I'm a girl that's liked technology from day 1. Mostly interested in the PSVita/PSP scene but I've always modded my stuff when it's possible, that is :)Contact me via DM at @KawaiiAuroraA on Twitter if you have any questions/concerns about my articles or if you have any article requests.