It’s no secret that the PlayStation Vita has found a niche within portable emulation circles and for good reason as it boasts a good physical button configuration, a touchscreen and has an excellent selection of homebrew. In this article, we’ll be looking at what computers, arcade machines and non-Sony/Nintendo/Sega consoles the PSVita/PSTV can emulate when hacked along with the best emulators to go with them! If you want to read about which Sony, Nintendo and Sega consoles the PSVita can emulate, check out this article.
Emulating computers on portable consoles isn’t anything new although the degree of usability depends on how powerful the device is and what input methods it offers.
The PSVita does a surprisingly good job at emulating 68k Macs so if you like older computer games like SimCity or SimEarth that require a mouse to play, it might be a good idea to grab a decent stylus and plop a System 7.5 image on your console 😉
To play your some SimCity 2000 or Dark Castle, check out this list to see the current emulation status of old computers:
68k Macs can be emulated pretty well and as long as you stick with System 7.5/7.6, you’ll get good performance. To emulate these, you can use Basilisk II which has touch input support, Dvorak OSK and Bluetooth keyboard/mouse support.
Amiga 500/1200 computers can also be emulated quite well by using UAE4ALL2 which sees very frequent updates and has many console-specific features including mappable custom control sets.
MS-DOS PCs can be emulated with RetroArch’s DosBox core but this is fairly slow and requires you to follow these mapping instructions
Sinclair’s ZX Spectrum 48K can be emulated with ZXVita or RetroArch’s Fuse core
The PC-9801 can be emulated with RetroArch’s NP2K core but system fonts aren’t working as of yet which means there’s limited support for ZUN’s Touhou games (bullet heck shooters which are very popular on the computer)
The Commodore 64 can be emulated via Adrenaline using PSPVice 3.2 (released in December 2018 so it’s fairly recent) or RetroArch’s VICE core. A comparison between the two by rsn8887 can be found here
Some other computers, such as the Amstrad CPC and Atari ST, don’t have an emulator native to the PSVita so you have to use the PSP version via Adrenaline. You can check out this link for a comprehensive and up-to-date list of these
Arcade Machines & Other Consoles
Other than Nintendo/Sega/Sony consoles and a whole slew of retro computers, the PSVita can also emulate many other machines including arcade machines which really turns it into a somewhat well-priced emulation powerhouse.
Feeling nostalgic for some Pitfall or just want to give yourself a challenge? If so, the PSVita has got you covered (and it’s sturdy enough to withstand a small slam or two ;))
The current emulation status of these other machines is as follows:
Arcade Machines can be emulated through a wide variety of emulators including PFBA (Final Burn Alpha variant with an emphasis on better performance for ARM devices like the PSVita) and RetroArch’s cores for FBA/MAME 2000 (the MAME 2003 core doesn’t perform too well) so you can play Street Fighter II as it was meant to be enjoyed 😉
SNK’s Neo Geo (home console & arcade) can be emulated with PFBA or RetroArch’s FBA core
Atari 2600 and 7800 emulation can be done perfectly with Stella and ProSystem RetroArch cores respectively so you can go play Pitfall whenever you want
Atari Lynx emulation can be done with HandyVita or RetroArch’s Handy core.
The PC Engine (TurboGrafx-16) can be emulated with MednaFen which supports both HuCard and Super CD-ROM games
Vectrex emulation can be done with the VecX RetroArch core
The CHIP-8 can be emulated well with MicroCHIP although don’t expect graphics that blow you away 😉
Various DOS-era adventure games like Monkey Island and the Leisure Suit Larry series can be emulated with ScummVM
WonderSwan and Neo Geo Pocket emulation can be done with Mednafen’s RetroArch core
RetroArch also has cores for the engines of DOOM, Quake, 2048 and some others if you want to give those a go even though they’re not consoles/arcade machines.
To find out even more information about what the PSVita can and cannot emulate, you should check out this GBATemp Thread on RetroArch since it does a good job at describing the performance of most RetroArch cores available for the console while also discussing issues/workarounds that exist in them. On a concluding note, you might also be interested in some of the homebrew retro game remakes that exist for the PSVita which include Duck Hunt Remake and Pong.
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.