Now that we’ve got a hacked Vita (if you don’t, please read Part 1 of this series of tutorials), let’s get some games on it. Thankfully, even with the hack applied, all of your digitally purchased and PS Vita physical card games will still work fine. Personally, I’ve got a large collection of Vita games, as it’s one of my favorite systems of all time, and second only to the Switch as my favorite handheld system. In Part 1 of this tutorial we managed to jailbreak the Vita so we can run unsigned code… now let’s go find some unsigned code to run.
Installing Adrenaline to Play PSP and PlayStation Games
Adrenaline is more than just a PSP / PlayStation emulator. It’s actually a full-fat PSP running directly on the PS Vita, complete with the full PSP BIOS, which is itself backwards compatible with original PlayStation games.
Download the Adrenaline vpk file from here: https://github.com/TheOfficialFloW/Adrenaline/releases.
On the Vita, ensure you have the h-encore hack enabled, and launch VitaShell. In VitaShell, press Start and change the Select button setting to USB. Press Circle to go back to the directory listing.
Navigate all the way up the file system until you’re in ux0:. This is the root of your PS Vita memory card.
Press Select to put the PS Vita in to USB mode. Connect the Vita to your PC with a USB cable.
Copy the Adrenaline.vpk that you downloaded above over to the root of the PS Vita memory card (shows up as a drive in Windows Explorer). The root of this drive mounts as ux0: in VitaShell.
Back on the Vita press Circle to close the FTP server. Scroll down to the bottom of the ux0: directory in VItaShell and you should see your Adrenaline.vpk file. Highlight it and press X to install. Press X a couple more times to confirm the install, following instructions as you go. When finished, you won’t be prompted to do anything. Note that doing this is the same way you’ll install games and homebrew that’s packaged in VPK files. Once the VPK file is done installing, you can deleting it by highlighting it in VitaShell, pressing Triangle, and then selecting Delete from the menu and pressing X to confirm.
Go back to the main menu and launch Adrenaline. You’ll be warned that the 6.61 firmware doesn’t yet exist and you’ll be asked to download it. Press X to download the PSP firmware. When the download is done you’ll be kicked back to the main Vita screen. Launch Adrenaline again. You’ll be asked to press X to install the firmware, do so.
When this finishes, you’ll be asked to press X to start Adrenaline. From here, you have the same interface as a PSP. Go through setup to access the crossbar PSP interface. Any PSP or PlayStation games you already have on or install your Vita will be playable from here.
There you have it. A full-fat PSP running on your Vita.
NoNpDRM is required for you to play PS Vita backups.
First thing you’ll need to do is launch VitaShell on the Vita, press Start to ensure that Select is set to USB mode. Press Circle to exit the menu and press Select to enter USB mode. Plug the Vita in to your PC and open Explorer.
Download the latest NoNpDRM .skprx file from here: https://github.com/TheOfficialFloW/NoNpDrm/releases
Copy it to top level directory on the drive that Windows uses to mount the Vita volume.
Press Circle on the Vita to disable USB mode and disconnect the Vita from the PC. You’ll want to copy the .skprx file you just copy to the Vita from the root of ux0: to ur0:tai by using the copy/paste commands in VitaShell. ur0: is the PS TV’s internal storage space, and we want this plug-in to run regardless if there’s a memory card in the PS TV or not. You should notice some other .skprx files there as well.
Next, we’ll have to modify the ur0:tai\config.txt files in order to reference the .skprx plugin we just installed. Start by using VItaShell to copy ur0:tai\config.txt to the root of ux0: so you can access it from your PC when you reconnect the Vita using USB mode.
Next, if you don’t already have it, you’ll have to download Notepad++. You’ll use this to edit the file – for two reasons. First, Windows Notepad doesn’t respect UNIX-like carriage returns so if you edited it with Windows Notepad you’d break it, and second, the file is marked as a system file so Notepad won’t allow you to edit it anyway. If you try to save it, you’ll get an Access Denied message.
I saved a backup of my original config.txt just in case – I renamed the copy config.txt.bak. Next, open config.txt in Notepad++. You’ll need to add the statement ur0:tai/nonpdrm.skprx directly under *KERNEL in that file, like this:
Ignore everything else in the file. Save it back to the Vita, and then use VitaShell to copy it and paste it in ur0:tai/config.txt and over-write the existing config.txt file with your new one. If done right, your new file should show in VitaShell as 566 bytes in size. Since the Vita checks memory cards for the file before it checks its internal storage, we’ll need to make a copy of your modified config file on the card too. Using VitaShell, copy your modified file to ux0:tai/config.txt as well, overwriting the file in that location. There should be no .skprx files in ux0:tai/ directory or referenced in either config.txt.
Reboot the PS Vita by holding down the Power button for 5 seconds until you’re prompted to Power Off. Wait 15 seconds or so and power the device back on. Your install should be complete. Don’t forget to run the exploit again by installing HENkaku from h-encore upon boot-up.
Download the latest version of PKGj from here: https://github.com/blastrock/pkgj/releases.
There’s a PKGj config.txt file floating around that has links in it to servers that unscrupulously host full versions of PS Vita, PSP, and PlayStation games, which can be downloaded via PKGj right on your Vita. Unfortunately this configuration is illegal in many countries, including my own, so I can not link to or tell you how to obtain this file. If you were to obtain it though, you could:
- Create a pkgi folder on your Windows PC and put the config.txt file in it.
- Launch VitaShell on the Vita, press Start to ensure Select is set to USB mode, press Circle to exit the menu, and press Select to enter USB mode
- Connect Vita via USB and drag the pkgi folder and the pkgj.vpk to the root of the Vita as it is mounted in Windows
- Back on the Vita press Select to disconnect USB, scroll down to the pkgj.vpk file and press X to install
- Follow the install prompts and let the install finish
- Close VitaShell and go back to the home screen
- Launch PKGj from its icon. Once it’s open, press Triangle to get a menu, and then scroll down and select Refresh with X
You can could install games from the list. If you install a PSP/Playstation game, it will show up under the Adrenaline emulator
Vita games show up on the Vita home screen.
If you did not want to use PKGj, you could also search for games that are already packaged as VPK files and install them just as we have installed other VPK packages elsewhere in this tutorial.
Other Helpful Apps/Plugins
DSMotion – Although I haven’t tried it with my PSTV yet, the above instructions should work on a PSTV. DSMotion is a custom plugin (.skprx file, just like NoDpDrm above) which allows Vita games that are played in the PSTV to take advantage of the gyros in a PS3 or PS4 controller that have been paired with the PSTV. Why Sony didn’t do this from the factory is beyond me, but a lot of Vita games require motion controls and are thus incompatible with the PSTV for only that reason. DSMotion fixes those incompatibilities by replacing the controller driver. If you’re hacking a PSTV, this is a must. You can download the latest version here: https://github.com/OperationNT414C/DSMotion.
FakeCamera – This is another must for PSTV hackers. Since the PSTV doesn’t include a camera, any games that use the camera API for the Vita will crash on the PSTV. For this reason, Sony blacklisted the games as incompatible with the PSTV, and they will refuse to launch. In a hacked PSTV they will launch, but will crash when they access the camera API. FakeCamera fakes a camera API so this won’t happen. You can download the latest version here: https://github.com/OperationNT414C/FakeCamera.
AntiBlacklist – In the description for FakeCamera I mentioned how Sony blacklisted some games on the PSTV. AntiBlacklist removes the block when playing those games on the PSTV. AntiBlacklist installs as a VPK file and not a .skprx plugin, but installation is easily accomplished with VitaShell. Along with DSMotion and FakeCamera, AntiBlacklist should allow you to play pretty much any Vita game out there on your hacked PSTV. Download the latest version here: http://vitadb.rinnegatamante.it/#/info/11.
USB Flash Drives – Again, this pertains mostly to hacked PSTVs, but just a note about USB drives. With a hacked PSTV, you can avoid buying expensive PS Vita memory cards and instead use a USB flash drive in the USB port on the PSTV. Obviously you’ll want the biggest drive you can afford so you can pack as much goodness as possible on to it, but be warned – a lot of people have had issues when using USB 3.0 flash drives. USB 2.0 flash drives, even though 3.0 is supposed to be transparently backwards compatible, are much more stable. Just a word of warning.
VitaTweaks – These tweaks are for both PSTV and Vita. TheFlow is the talented individual that brought us h-encore, Adrenaline, NoNpDrm, and VitaShell. You read that right, one guy. He also has created a few plug-in tweaks all of which are on a single GitHub page. NoLockScreen disables the lock screen during initial power on so you can get to your Vita dash faster. Download Enabler allows you to download any content from the built-in web browser. NoTrophyMsg disables the trophy hint message when you launch an application whose save data is linked to a different account. Custom Warning allows you to replace the health and safety warning on system power-on with your own custom text. You can get all of these plug-ins here: https://github.com/TheOfficialFloW/VitaTweaks.
AutoPlugin – AutoPlugin is an installable VPK application that makes it easy to download and install multiple Vita plug-ins including almost all of the plug-ins mentioned above automatically. I chose not to include this in the installation instructions for NoNpDrm because I wanted you (as well as myself) to understand where the plug-ins go, why, and how they work. Still, this app is continuously updated and will make plug-in installation much easier going forward. https://github.com/theheroGAC/Autoplugin.
In this Part 2 of our Vita hacking tutorial series, I showed you how to install Adrenaline on your PS Vita for playing classic PSP and PlayStation games, as well as how to download and install PKGj for installing PS Vita/PSP/PlayStation software via unscrupulous means – if you should so choose. We also learned that basically any file that comes in a VPK package can be installed via these same means – an easy drag and drop from a USB connected PC to move the files over to the Vita, and a one-button install from within VitaShell to get the VPK file installed.
If you enjoyed this tutorial and would like to see more, please feel free to share this article on social media, comment below letting me know what else you’d like to see, and follow me on Twitter @JROlmstead.