Homebrew Hack Makes the PS Vita Your New Go-To Retro Emulator Console

By Gerald Lynch on at

Remember when you spent £230 on the PlayStation Vita, loved it for a month or two, then had a handheld-sized coffin made for it as it became abundantly clear that Sony had all-but abandoned the console's original vision of a Nintendo-rivalling machine capable of AAA experiences? Well, it might be worth finding whatever drawer you stuffed it into and giving it a dusting, as a new homebrew exploit opens up fresh potential for Sony's forgotten console.

Well, I say "fresh", but I mostly mean "turns it into a properly nifty retro emulator machine" by all accounts, as that's the key draw to Team Molecule's HENkaku hack. Making use of a 3.60 firmware exploit, HENKaku allows access to the Vita's file system via FTP, allowing it to accept and install homebrew packages. You simply head to the official HENkaku website through your Vita's web browser, hit install and then you're away.

From there, people have been able to port NeoGeo Pocket, SNES, Mega Drive, Gameboy and GBA emulators with ease, as well (of course) a version of Doom. It'll even work in the ill-fated PS Vita TV box, making all the handheld system's games playable on the stationary box and not just those that Sony bizarrely limited it to.

And, in a surprisingly thoughtful move from Team Molecule, the exploit will not facilitate the play of pirated games. That's not to say Sony's going to stand for this sort of thing (I'd expect the next firmware update officially from Sony to block this somehow, so anyone wanting to keep the functionality will want to stay on 3.60). But who knows – maybe they'll let it slip if it spikes what can only be very slow Vita sales at this point.