Last updated: 05SEP2022 (see Changelog for details)
This tutorial will show you how to safely and permanently jailbreak/mod your device so that you can run RetroArch or other emulators, plus load backups of your PS Vita, PSP, and PS1 games. Note this will work on any firmware version of PS Vita, up to and including 3.74.
This guide is intended for the PS Vita 1000 and PS Vita 2000 models. The PS TV setup is mostly the same, but there are some slight differences in the process; because I’ve never used a PS TV, I would recommend looking elsewhere for the jailbreak instructions. This tutorial is written for Windows users, it is possible to jailbreak a Vita using Mac/Linux by following these instructions.
Note that each of these tutorials are written in a specific order. For example, you will need VitaShell installed to run certain tools, and so those instructions are found above the other tutorials. Long story short: if you just jump into a specific section and it references things you don’t understand (like VitaShell, or VPKs, etc.), then scroll up a bit to find those particular instructions.
Table of Contents: Why mod a PS Vita? PS Vita 1000 vs PS Vita 2000 Buy an SD2Vita adapter Hack your PS Vita Understanding VPKs Understanding plugins Connect via WiFi FTP (VitaShell) Set up Adrenaline (PSP and PS1 emulator) Adrenaline Bubble Manager Install RetroArch Create RetroArch bubbles Nintendo 64 emulation Dreamcast emulation Overclocking the PS Vita Improve the PS Vita 2000 screen Changelog
Why mod a PS Vita?
There are many reasons to run a permanent mod/jailbreak on the PlayStation Vita. Here are some of my favorites:
- PS VITA GAMES. It goes without saying, but you can play Vita games on a PS Vita. But with a modded device, you can run backups of your games, which means you don’t have to constantly swap cartridges.
- SD2VITA. An SD2Vita adapter allows you to use a microSD card as storage for your permanently modded PS Vita. $30 for a 256GB storage solution? Count me in.
- ADRENALINE. This app runs a PSP environment directly on your PS Vita. This allows you to load and play PSP and PS1 games with perfect native performance. Because the PS Vita screen has exactly 2x the amount of pixels as the PSP, it scales perfectly.
- RETROARCH (AND OTHER EMULATORS). The PS Vita has a good amount of emulators available, and while it’s not the most powerful emulation machine for the money, you can still expect to play most classic retro games, plus a fair amount of Nintendo 64 games as well. Moreover, you can run emulators within Adrenaline, which features many optimized emulators, too.
- NATIVE PORTS. There are a good amount of native ports you can run on this device, including all three Grand Theft Auto III games, Max Payne, and more.
- PLUGINS. There are hundreds of plugins available for the PS Vita, which will allow you to make any number of small (or large) tweaks to your device, such as adding a battery % indicator, remapping buttons, and so on.
PS Vita 1000 vs PS Vita 2000
There are two models of PS Vita, each with its own unique characteristics. See the video above for a deep-dive comparison between the two models. In a nutshell: they both play the same games, the PS Vita 1000 has an OLED display, and the PS Vita 2000 is thinner and lighter.
There are some adjustments you can do to the PS Vita 2000 to improve its screen, which you can find here (requires jailbreaking first).
Buy an SD2Vita adapter
The single most important accessory you can buy for your PS Vita is the Funturbo SD2Vita card adapter. This will allow you to use a microSD card for storage on your device after it has been jailbroken. It’s the best $6 you could ever spend. I’ve heard bad things about other SD2Vita adapters, so I would stick with the Funturbo brand — I have two and they have worked perfectly.
I think that a 128GB card should be the bare minimum size you buy, and I recommend getting something with 256GB. PS Vita, PSP, and PS1 games are all fairly large, so this will ensure you can load up lots of games. Here are the microSD cards I recommend:
128GB cards: SanDisk Extreme Samsung EVO Select Samsung Pro Endurance (more reliable but pricey) SanDisk Ultra 256GB cards: Samsung EVO Select SanDisk Ultra
Hack your PS Vita
VitaDeploy came out in early 2021 and improves the jailbreaking process significantly. It’s an all-in-one solution for hacking the device as well as setting it up to work with a microSD card thanks to the SD2Vita adapter. This method is thoroughly documented in this guide, so be sure to check there if you run into any issues.
Before we get started:
- This hack assumes that you are starting with a PS Vita that has been factory restored. Carrying over previous games or save games significantly complicates this process, and for support on moving existing catalogs over, I recommend consulting the VitaHacks community on Reddit or Discord.
- If you have a PS Vita 1000 model you will need an official Sony Memory Card inserted into the device, since the v1000 doesn’t have built-in storage. Any size memory card will work fine, the smaller the better since those are cheaper.
- This method works best with Windows, but it is possible to do it on a Mac or Linux machine using these instructions. This guide is written with Windows users in mind, and I recommend borrowing a friend’s Windows machine or creating your own Windows virtual machine.
- Your PS Vita must be on firmwares 3.60, 3.65, 3.68, 3.73 or 3.74 in order to run this hack. For best results, I recommend updating your PS Vita to 3.74 and going from there. This hack was performed and tested on a new PS Vita with firmware 3.74.
- Connect your PS Vita to your local WiFi, and I also recommend you log into the PSN Store at least once before starting this hack.
- If your Vita is already hacked, there is no reason to do this hack unless you want to have the official PS Vita bootup logo on your device or if you’re just in the mood to start over from scratch. You can restore a hacked Vita by following this guide.
Okay, now let’s get started:
Install Final h-encore2:
- Head over to soarqin’s GitHub releases page and download the latest release of FinalHE. Unzip the file into its own folder. Note that in the video I refer to it as a “zip” file, but the file format is actually .7z, which is a 7zip file. This file type is compressed like .zip and behaves the same way. You can use the built-in Windows unzipping utility to extract the file contents, or use 7zip.
- Go to SKGleba’s GitHub releases page and download the latest release of VitaDeploy. Be sure to get the “FHE” version that is in .zip format. Keep this file zipped, and place it inside the unzipped FinalHE folder.
- Inside the FinalHE folder, start the FinalHe.exe file. A window will pop up, select the “Trim h-encore to ~7MB” option, then open the side menu (it’s a very small arrow) and select the VitaDeploy option under “Additional applications”. Turn on your Vita and plug it into your PC via USB; navigate to the Content Manager app and select “Copy content > PC”. FinalHE will detect your Vita. If it doesn’t, refer to the blue text box below.
- On your PC, in the Final h-encore window, click the “Let’s GO!” button and wait until it finishes. On the Vita, navigate to “PC > PS Vita > Applications > PS Vita” and select both h-encore2 and VitaDeploy and then select “Copy”.
- Back on your Vita’s main menu, you should now see the h-encore2 and VitaDeploy apps. Tap the h-encore2 app to launch it (if it crashes, keep trying until it works). Once the app is open, all you have to do is exit the app.
PC connection troubleshooting
If you have problems connecting your Vita to the PC in order to run FinalHE, try the following steps:
– Install this QCMA driver and try again.
– If that doesn’t work, install the Content Manager Assistant application. You don’t need to actually run it, but the act of installing it will install drivers that can assist in the connection.
– If that doesn’t work, try uninstalling the Content Manager Assistant and installing QCMA by following these instructions.
– You can also try connecting via WiFi. During step #3 above, select Copy Content > PC > WiFi > and add your PC name here. When you click on your PC name, it should prompt you to enter a string of numbers that are being displayed on your screen. With final_he still running on your PC, it should display that same string of numbers near the bottom of the window. On the Vita prompt asking for those numbers, just enter them and it should sync up with final_he on your PC, you’ll see that “Let’s Go!” lights up. Thanks to discord user Levy for the tip!
Install custom 3.65 firmware:
- Open the Vita’s Settings app, and open “HENkaku settings”. Select “Enable Unsafe Homebrew” and make sure you are connected to the internet.
- Open VitaDeploy and navigate to “Install a different OS” > “Quick 3.65 install”. The app will download and install v3.65 and downgrade via the modoru tool. It will ask you if you really want to do it — just press X to confirm. Once complete, the Vita will reboot.
- Head over to Settings > System Information to confirm that you are now on v3.65 with the enso permanent hack.
- Note: I recommend KEEPING VitaDeploy installed on your device, especially if you want to play game cartridges later (see the green box below for instructions).
Set up the SD2Vita adapter
- Insert a microSD card into the SD2Vita adapter, then insert the adapter into your Vita’s game card slot.
- Open VitaDeploy and navigate to Miscellaneous > Format a storage device. Select “Format target storage” and follow any prompts. Reboot the device.
- Open up your Settings app, then navigate to Devices > Storage Devices, and enable YAMT. Reboot the console.
- Open VitaDeploy > File Manager, and make sure that the “uma0” partition is visible. Navigate to the “ux0” partition and select all of the folders except “SceloTrash” (use the SQUARE button to select). Press the TRIANGLE button and select “Copy”.
- Navigate to the “uma0” partition, press TRIANGLE to bring up the menu, and select “Paste”.
- Return to the Settings app and navigate to Devices > Storage Devices. Set the following options:
ux0: SD2Vita uma0: Memory Card (or Internal Memory for PS Vita 2000)
Reboot the console, head to Settings > System Settings and the memory card size should now reflect the capacity of your microSD card.
Play original game carts
If you still want to play your old game cartridges, it is possible. But I would instead recommend using PKGj to install backups of your Vita games so that you don’t swap the SD2Vita and Vita carts too frequently, as it can create errors and is not an automatic restoration process. Additionally, switching back and forth between SD2Vita will likely remove any organization you’ve done of your app library. Either way, if you want to use your game carts, here is how to do it:
– Make sure you still have VitaDeploy installed on your device from the
– Go into Settings > Devices > Storage Devices and UNCHECK the “Use YAMT” option
– Turn off your PS Vita, removed the SD2Vita, and add your game cart. Power on the device, it will “rebuild database” and all of your loaded apps/games will disappear.
– Once you are done playing game carts, re-insert the SD2Vita card and go into Settings > Devices > Storage Devices and CHECK the “Use YAMT” option. Reboot your PS Vita.
– If the Vita doesn’t automatically “rebuild database”, you will need to force a refresh. Open VitaDeploy, choose File Manager, and then back out to the main root directory (where is shows ur0, ux0, etc.). Press the TRIANGLE button and select “Refresh LiveArea”. This will restore all of your games and apps.
Install core homebrew apps
- Open VitaDeploy > App Downloader, and install the following apps:
- VitaShell – a powerful file management system
- Vita Homebrew Browser – a handy tool to browse and download various apps and homebrew games. Note that this app will often have connection or launching issues, so I recommend using the VitaDB downloader app instead (more info in the next section).
- Adrenaline – a PSP environment that allows you to play PSP and PS1 games with perfect performance (more info here)
- PKGj – this app will install backups of your PS Vita, PSP, and PS1 games.
- vita-savemgr – allows you to dump and restore your save games.
- Custom Themes Manager – as the name implies, this allows you to manage custom themes.
- iTLS Enso – adds TSL v1.2 to the device, which fixes many plugin errors, adds more installer options, allows secure (https) internet access, and restores access to the PS Store.
- Registry Editor – this allows you to improve the color saturation on PS Vita 2000 models (more info here).
Apps on the PS Vita are known as VPKs. Most of these you can find via the website VitaDB. My preferred way of installing VPKs is to find them via this website, then read up on the installation requirements (note that sometimes the installation instructions aren’t in VitaDB itself, but linked to the “Release Page” for each VPK in the VitaDB listing), and install them via VitaShell (which you installed in the step above).
Update! There is a new VitaDB Downloader app that will access the VitaDB repo and download the VPKs directly on your Vita.
Manual installation: To start, let’s make sure that VitaShell is properly configured. Open the app, then press the START button. Under “USB device”, make sure it’s set to “sd2vita”. Press the back button to back out of that menu. Now, connect your Vita to your PC and press the SELECT button. This should make the SD card contents available on your PC. Note that if you want to connect VitaShell via WiFi, those instructions are in the next section.
So let’s install a VPK for practice, using the app Wordle SDL. Head over to this page and click on the “Download VPK” button near the bottom. On your Vita, open up VitaShell, connect your USB cable between the PC and Vita, then press the SELECT button on the Vita. Your SD card contents should appear on the screen. Move the Wordle SDL VPK to the “downloads” folder on your Vita (or anywhere, really). Press the cancel button on your Vita to disconnect, navigate to the Wordle VPK, and click on it. Confirm the installation, and you’re done.
So in summary,
- Connect to your PC via USB using the VitaShell app
- Move the VPK over to a folder of your PS Vita (preferably the downloads folder)
- Launch the file within VitaShell on your device to install it
- The app is magically on your home screen
- Celebrate with champagne and mac & cheese
Here are some highlights to start you on your journey:
Tools and emulators that will improve your Vita experience include Moonlight HD (PC streaming), mGBA (GBA/GB/GBC), DaedalusX64-vitaGL (N64) (guide below), and Vita Media Center (movie player). The Vita can also play standalone PSP emulators. Check out the Adrenaline section for more info.
The Vita also has a ton of Ports available. Here are a few: DevilutionX (Diablo), Grand Theft Auto III, GTA3: Vice City, GTA3: San Andreas, GTA: Chinatown Wars, Half-Life, Max Payne, Minit, Sonic 1 and 2 ports, Sonic CD, and Baba is You. Bear in most of these ports will require commercial data files that you will need to supply yourself. Additionally, most will require plugins to work properly, so be sure to follow the ports’ instructions carefully. Speaking of plugins…
In previous guides, I had recommended using AutoPlugin to install plugins, but I’ve since learned that this can undermine the clean installation of plugins, which are essential components to getting certain apps to run properly. So instead I recommend manually installing plugins. Let’s do one for practice.
Go to this page and download the NoLockScreen v2 plugin. This will make it so that you don’t need to swipe down from the lock screen every time you power on or awaken your Vita. The file will be named “nolockscreen_v2.suprx”. Using VitaShell, transfer this file to your device. Then, still within VitaShell on your Vita, manually transfer this plugin to the following directory: ur0:tai/
Within that ur0:/tai folder, you will see a file named config.txt. Open that file within VitaShell, then about halfway through that file you will find a line named *KERNEL with a listing of some plugins (usually in skprx file format). This is where most skprx plugins will go, but because we’re using an suprx file for our example, we will use the *MAIN section instead (more info on the various sections are below). Within this listing, press the TRIANGLE button and select “Insert empty file”. Now with your cursor on that blank line, press the ENTER button and type the following using the Vita’s keyboard:
From there, press the BACK button on your Vita and confirm that you want to save your modifications. Reboot your device for the plugin to take effect. And that’s it, that is the basic method to install plugins. To uninstall a plugin, remove it from the ur0:tai folder, and delete any mentions of it from the config.txt file.
There are three main sections of plugins within the config.txt, which can be broken out at such:
– *KERNEL plugins are for skprx plugins
– *MAIN is for plugins that affect LiveArea behavior (like the example above)
– *ALL is for plugins that work within apps
Note that improperly installing plugins can potentially BRICK the PS Vita. Be sure to consult the installation page of every plugin to ensure there are no conflicts with other plugins! The installation section is generally within the GitHub page for that plugin. If you encounter issues with a plugin, you can hold the L button while booting the Vita to bypass plugins, and then enter VitaShell to remove the issue.
For more in-depth support, I recommend visiting the HENkaku discord server.
Connect via WiFi FTP (VitaShell)
The simplest way to access your device is through a USB cable running VitaShell (when in VitaShell, just press the SELECT button to start the connection). But if you want to access your device wirelessly, VitaShell has that option as well.
Start up VitaShell, then press START to bring up the main settings. Change the “SELECT button” option to “FTP”, then press START to exit out of the main settings. Now, press SELECT. You should see a message with an FTP address, like this:
The “XX” in the address above will be unique to the IP address your Vita is currently using.
On your preferred FTP client (like WinSCP or FileZilla for Windows), start a new FTP connection. For the address, type in 192.168.86.XX (with “XX” being whatever is displayed on your Vita), and change the port to “1337”. Press the connect button on your client, and when it asks you for a username and password, don’t type anything and just press OK instead.
You should now be connected, with access to all of your file system on the device (not just the SD card).
Set up Adrenaline (PSP and PS1 emulator)
Adrenaline is a PSP emulator that basically boots into the original PSP environment. It’s wonderful. This is also the best way to play PS1 games, and some emulators (like for NES, SNES, etc.) are also pretty good from within PSP.
If you haven’t already installed Adrenaline while setting up VitaDeploy, download the latest version of Adrenaline.vpk from this link. Connect the Vita to your PC via VitaShell, then press SELECT on the Vita to enter USB mode. Copy the Adrenaline.vpk file onto your Vita, then disconnect from USB mode. Find the Adrenaline VPK within VitaShell and instal it, then go back to the home screen. You should now see the Adrenaline app there.
Open up Adrenaline, and it will prompt you to complete the download and installation of the 6.61 Adrenaline firmware. Press the X button to confirm, and once the download is complete it will exit Adrenaline. If you get an error about missing 6.61 on your device, the easiest fix is to just download v6.61 directly and place it in the folder that is indicated on the error screen (ux0:app/PSPEMUCWF/661.PBP). Be sure to rename your downloaded file from EBOOT.PBP to 661.PBP. Here is more information in case you run into this issue.
Re-open the app, and it will prompt you to install the firmware we just downloaded. That’s it, you should now be in the setup screen for a brand new PSP environment. Note that when opening Adrenaline, it will crash the first time. This is annoying, but normal. You can fix this error by modifying the plugin configuration using the instructions here.
The easiest way to add PSP and PS1 games to your device is through the PKGj app, but you can also manually add them. Note that the “pspemu” folder is hidden in Windows and Mac, so you must have hidden folders enabled in order to find it. This is where you add each file:
PSP: sdcard/pspemu/ISO/ PS1: sdcard/pspemu/PSP/GAME/(titleid)/EBOOT.PBP
For PSP, just place the .iso files in the folder listed above.
For PS1, the games must be in PBP format. You will need to organize the games by titleid within the folder above. I have found that the easiest place to find these titleids it through this website. If you cannot find the game you’re looking for, here is a more comprehensive list of each titleid, but it will come up with LOTS of results and so it may be a challenge to pare it down to the appropriate game. Just search for your game to find the appropriate titleid.
Once you have the titleid, make a folder inside the GAME folder with that titleid as the name. Within the titleid folder, you will need the game, named EBOOT.PBP (upper case). So for example, in order to play Tony Hawk Pro Skater 2, you will use the following path:
When scaling PS1 within Adrenaline, I recommend using these settings:
X: 1.225 Y: 1.265
For PS1, I also prefer to set Graphics Filtering to Advanced AA, and turn Smooth Graphics OFF. Also, go into the “Open Official Settings” section within the Adrenaline Main Menu, then select Others Settings > Other Settings > Bilinear Filtering > OFF.
For PSP, I like the lcd3x and sharp bilinear (no scanlines) filters.
You can also use this handy PSP Emulators Installer app to install emulators directly into your PS Vita’s Adrenaline app. You would install this app just like any other vpk, and then run the installer script. This will install the following emulators to run on your PSP environment:
COELM PSP = Colecovision CPS1 = Capcom DaedalusX64 = Nintendo 64 (N64) Emuodd = Magnavox Odyssey Fuse = ZX Spectrum 48K LYNX = Atari Lynx Masterboy = Sega Master System MVS = Neo Geo Picodrive = Megadrive/Genesis PSP7800 = Atari 7800 PSPATARI = Atari 800,800XL,130XE PSPCAP32 = Amstrad CPC464 PSPHUGO = Pc-Engine/TurboGrafx-16 PSPINT = Intellivision PSPTHOM = Thompson TO7 PSPVE = Vectrex RACE = Neo Geo Pocket/Color s9xTYLcm_mod = Super Nintendo (SNES) SMSPSP = Sega Master System Vice = Commodore C64
Adding your ROMs varies by standalone emulator, but generally you will want to add them to the pspemu/PSP/GAME/(name of emulator) folder, inside a folder labelled as “ROMs” or something to that effect.
To enter the Adrenaline settings, hold down on the HOME button. To exit Adrenaline, double-click the HOME button to return to the PS Vita menu.
Adrenaline Bubble Manager
The Adrenaline Bubble Manager will allow you to place individual bubbles for your PSP and PS1 games onto your PS Vita home screen.
To get started, head over to this page and download the latest release of Adrenaline Bubble Manager VPK, and load it onto your device via VitaShell. Install the app via VitaShell, then open the app to complete the installation. It will prompt you to reset your device. Once rebooted, open Adrenaline one time, then close it, and then open Adrenaline Bubble Manager.
Inside Adrenaline Bubble Manager, you will see all of the PSP and PS1 games you have installed in Adrenaline. To select a game for bubbling, press the SQUARE button to select it. You can also press the L button to change the shape of the image to cover the whole bubble. Once you have all your desired games selected, press the CIRCLE button to begin the bubbling process. Alternatively, you can just press the TRIANGLE button to make bubbles for every game that doesn’t have on already. At this point you will be prompted to confirm the name of each of your bubbles, and then the bubbles will be created.
There’s a lot more you can do with Adrenaline Bubble Manager, like loading your own images. For more info, check out their wiki page.
RetroArch isn’t the most powerful emulation solution for the PS Vita, but it’s the only one that provides a unified gaming experience. To get started, download the latest nightly version of RetroArch VPK from this link. Additionally, download the latest nightly RetroArch data file from that same link. The VPK contains the actual app and all its cores, while the data file contains all of the assets (fonts, graphics, etc.).
Connect the Vita to your PC via VitaShell, then press SELECT on the Vita to enter USB mode. Copy the retroarch.vpk file into the root “USB Drive” folder of your Vita Next, unzip the RetroArch data file, and move the RetroArch data folder (named “retroarch”) into the PS Vita’s data folder. On your Vita, select and install the retroarch.vpk file, following the prompts that come up. This install will take quite some time, about five minutes, with some hangups along the way. This is normal. Once complete, disconnect from USB mode, then go back to the home screen. You should now see the RetroArch app there.
Run RetroArch once, and then close it out. Reconnect to your Vita using VitaShell, then on your PC navigate to data > RetroArch > system, and add your bios files there. BIOS files will not be shared on this website due to copyright, so you will need to dump them from an original console, or find backups on the internet. I recommend adding the following:
SEGA CD: bios_CD_E.bin bios_CD_J.bin bios_CD_U.bin FAMICOM DISK SYSTEM: disksys.rom GAME BOY (for boot logo): gb_bios.bin GAME BOY COLOR (for boot logo): gbc_bios.bin GAME BOY ADVANCE: gba_bios.bin NEO GEO: neogeo.zip PLAYSTATION: scph1001.bin TURBOGRAFX-CD: syscard1.pce syscard2.pce syscard3.pce
To actually run RetroArch, you will want to make a ROMs folder somewhere on your SD card. The easiest thing to do would be to just make a ROMS directory in the root directory of your microSD card, and then put all of your ROMs in subfolders within that directory. Then create playlists for each of those systems by pointing the playlist creator to the folders where you stored the ROMs.
When making a playlist for arcade games, you will want to do a manual scan and use this dat file to make sure that the zipped names (e.g. tmnt.zip) are converted to full names (Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles). If you have questions about this part of the process, check out my RetroArch starter guide.
Here are my recommended RetroArch cores:
Arcade (90s and CPS): FB Alpha 2012 Arcade (Neo Geo): FB Alpha 2012 Arcade (80s): MAME 2003-Plus GB: Gambatte GBC: Gambatte GBA: gpSP NES: FCEUmm SNES: Snes9x 2005-Plus Game Gear: Genesis Plus GX Genesis: Genesis Plus GX Sega CD: Genesis Plus GX Sega 32x: Picodrive
For SNES in particular, certain games like Star Fox, Yoshi’s Island, Super Mario RPG, and Final Fantasy III will not run at full speed with the recommended Snes9x 2005-Plus core. For those, select the game > Set Core Association and then try a different core (Snes9x 2005 is a good place to start, then 2002) until you find one that works the best for you.
When it comes to graphical fidelity, I recommend the following settings:
Integer Scaling: OFF Bilinear Filtering: ON Filter: Normal2x
To access filters, you will want to go into RetroArch Settings > Directory and point the Video Filters folder to the correct filters folder (found at uxo:/data/retroarch/filters). Note that filters can affect CPU performance, so if a game is not running at full speed, I recommend removing the filter. In general, FinalBurn Alpha 2012 runs best without filters, and some demanding SNES games may need the filter to be off as well.
- You can also use overlays to fill up the blank space on your screen for certain systems, here is a good source.
- RetroArch on the PS Vita supports RetroAchievements! Check out this video guide for more info on how they work.
- NetPlay is possible between two PS Vitas. They need to be running the same version of RetroArch, the same core, and the same game file. You will also need to use a Relay Server (I wasn’t able to get local NetPlay to work in my testing). For more info, check out this guide.
Create RetroArch bubbles
You can use a tool called RetroBuilder to create bubbles for your Vita home screen. Note that this tool is only available on Windows PCs. To start, download the latest RetroBuilder .zip file, and extract it on your computer. Next, open the RetroBuilder 3.0 folder, and run the zz-RetroBuilder.bat file inside. You will see a pop-up menu. Inside that window, type “1” and ENTER to go to the Input Folder, which will pop up. Inside this folder, place three images:
bg.png - the bubble's background image icon0.png - the bubble's image startup.png - the clickable image over the background (optional)
You can use any sort of image you want. Personally, I prefer to use the boxart for my bg.png, the title screen for icon0.png, which I get from the Libretro thumbnails repository. For the startup.png, I use the system images from screenscraper.fr.
Once you have your images, rename them to the above names (it’s okay if they are .jpg, the app will convert them for you) and put them in the Input Folder. Next, take the ROM from your PS Vita and place a duplicate in the same Input Folder. Once those are complete, back on the zz-RetroBuilder.bat popup menu, type “2” and ENTER. It will ask you to name the bubble (e.g. “Super Mario World”) and to provide a 9-digit Title ID that is all CAPS and/or numbers (e.g. “SMW111222”).
Once complete, you will find a vpk inside the RetroBuilder/VPK folder. Move that vpk onto your Vita and then install it using VitaShell. You should now see the bubble on your home screen. Note that launching a game from the bubble takes quite a bit of time, since it has to launch RetroArch in the background.
Some notes on this process:
- For best results, name your ROMs folder “ROMS”, and name the system folders inside as follows: GB, GBC, GBA, NES, SNES, GG, GEN.
- My understanding is that you can only create bubbles for Nintendo and Sega games listed above — not Arcade games, TG16, etc.
- The bubbles will launch using the default core chosen by RetroBuilder, not what you have associated with your RetroArch playlist. To change the default core, check out this video from SaiyanPrinceVegeta.
Nintendo 64 emulation
The standalone Nintendo 64 emulator is called DaedalusX64. Installing this app is just like with any other VPK.
Once installed, put the N64 game files in the data > DaedalusX64 > Roms folder of your microSD card. Boot the app once to create the folder structure, then move over your files using VitaShell. You may not have a folder named “Roms” in your Daedalus data folder, which is fine — just make one. I recommend using unzipped .n64 or .z64 files.
Once you’ve loaded up your games, start up the DaedalusX64 app and go to Files > Download Data Files, which will download the media (box art) for every game in the Nintendo 64 catalog and load them for the games you’ve added.
There are a few things you can do to improve the performance of the DaedalusX64.
- Every time you boot up the app, it will check for a new update and will also re-download the compatibility list. These only need to be done periodically, so it’s better to turn them off. To do so, go to Extra > Auto Update at Boot > OFF, and Extra > Update Compat List at Boot > OFF. Be sure to also go to Extra > Save Global Settings.
- To increase the font size of the text, go to Extra > Scale UI Texts.
- If you have graphical glitches when playing a game, go to Graphics > Textures Caching and toggle between those three settings.
- In the Input > Controls Mapping there are a number of mapping configurations available depending on your play style and the game you are playing.
- If you are experiencing performance problems but really want to play a certain game, the single biggest thing you can do to improve performance is to go in and select Audio > Disabled. The Nintendo 64 didn’t have a dedicated audio chip, so all audio was routed through the CPU; disabling the audio will be less taxing on the CPU altogether. For example, with audio off, you can expect about 32fps performance on Goldeneye 007 without any sort of overclocking (expect about 20fps with the audio on). That being said, audio is often considered an integral aspect of gaming, so you may not be interested in this option.
- While in the game selection menu, click the “Filter by” dropdown to filter your games by playability. That way, you can load up all of your games at once, set a “Playable” filter, and then only have the playable games listed (as determined by the community’s compatibility list) in your game selection menu.
- The app will default to a 16:9 aspect ratio, which honestly looks pretty great for some games. To adjust it to 4:3, to go Graphics > Aspect Ratio > 4:3. Some games will work with the “16:9 unstretched” option, which functions as a widescreen hack, which you can see in the picture below:
Starting in August of 2022, the Flycast emulator has been available for the PS Vita, bringing limited Dreamcast emulation support to the console. The emulation performance is not great, but I would expect about 25% of the catalog to be readily playable with an acceptable amount of slowdown. I wouldn’t consider this to be a “Dreamcast device”, but it’s cool to see some of these games running on the Vita. For a list of tested games, check out this page.
To get started, you will need to install a few plugins to get the emulator working. Written instructions are provided by the developer (in the Installation tab) and have been frequently updated, so refer to this page for the most comprehensive details. The video above will also walk you through the process.
- Download the latest kubridge and fdfix plugins (they will be in skprx file format), and add them to the taiHEN plugins folder, usually found in ur0:tai if you used my methods above to jailbreak your device.
- Within that ur0:/tai folder, you will see a file named config.txt. Open that file within VitaShell, then about halfway through that file you will find a line named *KERNEL with a listing of some plugins (usually in skprx file format). Within this listing, press the TRIANGLE button and select “Insert empty file”. Now with your cursor on that blank line, press the ENTER button and type the following using the Vita’s keyboard:
- From there, press the BACK button on your Vita and confirm that you want to save your modifications. Reboot your device for the plugins to take effect.
- Now we need to add a shader compiler. Full instructions are here, here is what I did:
- Download and install the latest version of the Flycast VPK from this page. If the app crashes, you may have too many other plugins installed on your device, or check your plugins to make sure they are properly installed.
Once you launch the app, it will create a data folder at uxo:/data/flycast/data. Inside there you can add your dc_boot.bin and dc_flash.bin BIOS files if you want the best compatibility (and you will also see the DC boot logo when starting a game). I also put my game files in this folder.
- On the main app page, check the “Suggested Option Setup” tab for optimal default settings.
- GDI file types work best, I put them in their own subfolder for easy organization.
- When possible, use PAL versions of games and check the compatibility list to see if any of your games have a 30fps patch to further improve performance. Click on the name of the game for more specific details.
- This emulator has been known to have a memory leak and can degrade in performance the longer you use it. Be sure to use save states and periodically close the app and reopen it for the best performance.
- Most Atomiswave games have Dreamcast ports, so you can try those out as well.
- If you want to support the development of this emulator, consider adding your test results to the compatibility page or become a Patreon member.
Overclocking the PS Vita
The PS Vita has an ARM Cortex A9 CPU, which can be clocked up to 2GHz. However, Sony clocked their CPU to 333MHz in order to improve stability and battery life. Overclocking can potentially improve emulation performance on the PS Vita, especially with RetroArch and DaedalusX64.
Note that overclocking performance can vary by Vita (also known as “silicon lottery”). Additionally, overclocking your Vita may cause premature aging to your battery and other components. Use sparingly and at your own risk.
Overclocking is done via plugins. To learn how to install plugins, refer to the VPKs and plugins section of this guide.
Note that this plugin may already be installed on your device by virtue of using the VitaDeploy method above. So try toggling it on before trying to install it.
- PSVshell — this plugin has three different GUI modes which can come in handy when you want to display your performance while playing. This plugin is similar to LOLIcon in that you can adjust the clockspeed up to 500MHz. To bring up this GUI, also press SELECT + UP and you can cycle through different views by pressing SELECT + UP or DOWN.
To see some of these overclocking options in motion, check out my N64 emulation video (embedded above).
Improve the PS Vita 2000 screen
The PS Vita 2000 “Slim” has a lot of improvements over the PS Vita 1000 — it is slimmer, lighter, more ergonomic, uses micro-USB to charge instead of a proprietary charger, and has longer batter life. But there is one big downside: it uses an LCD display, which is inferior to the OLED screen on the PS Vita 1000. There is one trick you can do to improve the saturation and contrast on the PS Vita 2000 so that it better mimics the OLED PS Vita display.
To start, we will need an app called RegistryEditor. Go to this GitHub releases page and download the latest RegistryEditor.vpk file. Connect the Vita to your PC via VitaShell, then press SELECT on the Vita to enter USB mode. Copy the RegistryEditor.vpk file into the root “USB Drive” folder of your Vita. Disconnect from USB mode, then scroll down to find the RegistryEditor.vpk file on your Vita; press CIRCLE to install the package and follow the prompts. Close VitaShell and you should now see the RegistryEditor app on your home screen.
Open up the RegistryEditor app, and then select CONFIG > DISPLAY and edit these two lines to change their values from “0” to “1”:
color_space_mode: 1 rgb_range_mode: 1
Once you have adjusted these values, press START on your Vita to save your settings and close the app. Next, reboot your Vita and you should now have more saturated colors and higher contrast.
– added links to the new VitaDB downloader app
– added Dreamcast emulation section
– added updated PS Vita hack video guide
– added details on how to play original game carts after jailbreaking/SD2Vita hack
– separated VPKs and plugin sections, and added more details (thanks to Cimmerian for the suggestions)
– removed legacy instructions. If you want to jailbreak your Vita, I recommend starting from scratch
– removed AutoPlugin instructions and replaced it with manual plugin installation instructions
– added VPKs and plugins section, merged with old “install standalone emulators and ports” section
– general housekeeping of new links and apps
– added WiFi connection instructions
– added connection tips during FinalHE
– adjusted guide to reflect compatibility with 3.74
– added amplifying information about manually installing Adrenaline
– added written VitaDeploy guide
– reorganized guide to emphasize VitaDeploy as preferred method
– added h-encore troubleshooting suggestions
– added N64 video
– added Restore PlayStation Store access section
– added link to RetroArch video
– updated RetroArch guide
– added Vita Media Player link
– added NetPlay information
– added more RetroArch info and the RetroArch bubbles guide
– updated wording based on feedback from romadu
– added tip about resetting device after downgrading to make sure settings stick
– added Adrenaline Bubble Manager
– added recommended Adrenaline settings
– added WiFi FTP instructions
– added SD2Vita (YAMT method) instructions and video
– added migration instructions from Storage Manager to YAMT for existing SD2Vita users
– published guide
– added HENkaku version spoofing instructions
– added PSN login instructions