As someone who’s embedded in the emulation scene (and has interviewed the people who originally hacked the PS Vita), I’m still playing with and love my PS Vita. It’s an older device that lacks the power of something like the AYANEO Pocket Air, but it’s still a killer handheld that’s got a lot to offer for those who know where to look.
Below will walk you through the top reasons I personally still play the PS Vita and if you’re new to the modding scene in general, hopefully this will give you a bit of inspiration as to where to start.
In This Article
7. Affordable Storage.
Pictured: Photo of my PS Vita memory card adapter with a red and black micro SD card inserted. Photo by Wesley Copeland.
The PS Vita had a few problems, but nothing was more damning than the propriety memory cards Sony created for the console. When the PS Vita first launched they were over-priced and under-sized. Even now, years removed from the end of the Vita’s lifespan, they’re still expensive. I just checked the price of a measly 32GB and it was $70. What?!
With a hacked Vita, you can sidestep this pretty easily by picking up a PS Vita memory card converter for $5 to $10 and a generic micro SD card. Not only is this route considerably cheaper, you can also get a decent capacity that’s actually designed to hold multiple games.
How this works is instead of using the PS Vita’s dedicated memory card slot, the converter uses the game slot. Simply plug a microSD into the converter, then insert the converter into the game card slot. You will need to set up a few specific programs to get the memory card registered, but I was able to get up and running in about 20 minutes, so it’s not all that difficult.
I’m currently using a 120GB SanDisk MicroSD card and of that, I have 25GB free with a total of 66 games on the device. To put the original 32GB official memory card in perspective, you could fit four copies of Borderlands 2 before running out of space. So that’s 66 games or four games? I’ll let you decide which one is better.
6. Play Retro Games.
Pictured: Photo of my PS Vita with Turtles in Time for the SNES running on the screen. Photo by Wesley Copeland.
As you know, I’m big into emulation. If a device can be hacked, the first thing I’m going to do is get emulators up and running.
What’s interesting about the PS Vita is most of the emulation actually comes from the PSP emulator. This is a different way of doing things, I’ll admit, but it works. Due to how popular the PSP was, developers released a slew of emulators on the system. And because the PS Vita comes with an official PSP emulator baked into it, that means we can use the PS Vita to emulate the PSP emulating SNES, N64, and other retro devices. Yeah, it’s a wild as it sounds!
In terms of what I’ve played, I’ve been able to play everything from NES up to Dreamcast. 8-and-16-bit systems run brilliantly, but anything above that tends to be on a case-by-case basis. Some N64 will work without any problems, but I found a few that didn’t. It’s the same for Dreamcast.
Getting the emulators up and running is a fairly pain-free process as well. You can either download the emulators directly and side-load them onto the PS Vita, or you can go even easier and install the homebrew browser and then use that to install what you need.
5. Install Mods.
Pictured: Photo of Stardew Valley running on a PS Vita. Photo by Wesley Copeland.
Before we get into this, you won’t be able to mod PS Vita games to the same level as their PC counterparts. That said, lightweight mods are absolutely possible.
For example, I managed to get some mods working in Stardew Valley, The Binding of Isaac, and a rather helpful mod that puts a right-stick camera into certain PSP games like GTA.
The right stick camera mod is something I seriously recommend. It was created by a well-known PS Vita modder named TheFloW and can be used in the following games on the PS Vita:
- Grand Theft Auto: Liberty City Stories.
- Grand Theft Auto: Vice City Stories.
- Resistance: Retribution.
- Splinter Cell: Essentials.
- Tomb Raider: Anniversary.
- Tomb Raider: Legend.
- Prince Of Persia: Revelations.
- Prince Of Persia: Rival Swords.
- Kingdom Hearts: Birth By Sleep.
- Kingdom Hearts: Birth By Sleep Final Mix.
- Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker.
- Metal Gear Solid: Portable Ops.
- The Warriors.
- Tony Hawk.
That’s not a bad selection, eh?
4. Play PSP and PS1 games.
Pictured: Photo of Friday Night Funkin’ running on a PS Vita. Photo by Wesley Copeland.
It goes without saying you can play PSP and PS1 games on the PS Vita. But with a hacked PS Vita, you can transfer your own games over, which opens the system up to new possibilities.
This also extends to games that you couldn’t previously play on PSP or PS1. If you’ve got games that weren’t released in your country, they’ll now be playable.
There’s also something especially cool I found out: You can play PS1 ports. I tested this out myself and was able to get the popular rhythm game Friday Night Funkin’ running on the PS Vita via PS1 backward compatibility. I still hate the game, but it’s a fun little experiment to see something like this in action.
3. Read Comics.
Pictured: Photo of the Noboru app on the PS Vita. Photo by Wesley Copeland.
What do the ASUS ROG Ally, Steam Deck, iPad, Pixel 6 Pro, and a PS Vita have in common? I’ve read comics on all of them. I have a habit of never remembering to charge my iPad, which is the best option for reading comics in my mind. When that’s out of juice, I’ll always grab whatever’s charged next.
Believe it or not, the PS Vita isn’t actually a bad choice for reading comics. The screen is wider than my mobile phone, meaning I can fit more of the comic on there.
How is this achieved? If you’ve got EasyVPK installed, press triangle and perform a search for “comics”. The first result will be the Noboru app. That’s what you want. Now just click the X button to install that and transfer your comics onto the PS Vita memory card (see how important the adaptor I mentioned above is?) and that’s it.
2. Install Custom Themes.
Pictured: An Anime custom theme for the PS Vita. Photo by Wesley Copeland.
The main PS Vita home screen is mostly fine. It’s fine! It’s not anywhere near as fun or interesting as the 3DS or Nintendo Switch, but it does the job. Can it be improved? You bet! And modders have made it 10 times better by introducing custom themes.
Custom Theme Manager is a piece of software you can download through the Homebrew Browser app that lets you install stylish new themes. Think anime, gaming, that sort of thing.
I’ve been using Custom Theme Manager for years now and it’s one of the best decisions I ever made. The custom images really make the Vita home screen less dull, and there are even options to change the text colors and the background sound. It’s everything you could want from an app.
1. Install Ports.
Pictured: Photo of the Sonic Mania’s main title screen on the PS Vita. Photo by Wesley Copeland.
What’s the best thing you can do with a hacked PS Vita? That would be the installation of ports.
Ports are, essentially, wrappers for a game that lets them work on the PS Vita. As the Vita comes equipped with support for the old PS Mobile store, that means if an Android game is lightweight enough, you can get it running on the PS Vita.
I wrote about this before when I got Sonic Mania running on the PS Vita but that’s just one of many games that have been ported. I suggest grabbing EasyVPK to view the full list, but some of the highlights for me are the aforementioned Sonic Mania, Gone Home, GTA, Prototype, Fallout and Fallout 2, and Professor Layton: Lost Fortune.
You will need the game’s data files (read: You’ll need to actually own them on Android or PC), which I assume will be a deal-breaker for some. Still, the process to get them up and running isn’t anything that hard. Once you’ve got the data files, it’s just a case of transferring them over to the Vita and letting the downloadable port wrapper do most of the work.
Some games will be buggier than others, of course, but when you get one that works without any flaws, it feels like a kind of magic.
Essential PS Vita Apps.
Depending on what you want to do on the PS Vita will decide which apps you want to download. There are, however, some essential apps I think everyone needs to get the most out of their Vita:
- Custom Themes Manager – an app to download and install custom themes.
- Vita Homebrew Browser – A homebrew downloader.
- EasyVPK – another homebrew downloader that’s easy to use.
- Adrenaline Bubbles – for creating home screen bubbles for PS1 and PSP games.
- RetroArch Bubble Builkder – similar to Andrenaline Bubbles above, only for retro games.
- LCD Color Saturation – lets you change the Vita’s colors to make the screen more vibrant.
Note: You can download the port wrappers for individual games from the EasyVPK and Homebrew Browser apps. You don’t need anything extra besides those (and the game’s data files, obviously).