Saturday, July 30, 2016

Vita firmware bypassed, retro games a go-go with Henkaku

Without breaking into piracy territory, Henkaku allows Vita owners to relatively easily play retro, missing PSP (soon) and other games, with bubbles and everything, all on the latest firmware. This champagne moment for the homebrew crowd, and those aghast at Sony's arse-faced limitations on PSP and PS One games, is pretty big news in a quiet summer.

Benefits so far include:

  • EU users being able to install the Netflix app. 
  • Persona 4 players getting the Japanese audio
  • Switching PSN region accounts without hassle
UPDATE: Sony has finally dragged its Vita firmware crew out of retirement and dropped version 3.61 to spoil this party. Will this move see the start of a tit-and-tat battle between the crackers and gatekeepers, or is this a Berlin Wall around any exploit, for now? More to the point, if Sony can panic and get out an update when there's the slightest hint of a threat, why can't it provide more regular beneficial updates for users?

The point is, that's likely all it can do, Sony can't offer users anything new or improved as a carrot, all you get is continued access to PSN and new digital games, which for some probably isn't enough of an incentive.

Original story continues: Also, soon we could actually play Crisis Core on the Vita, and the original Ridge Racer PS One, as well as SNES, SNK and MegaDrive games that are freely available on pretty much every other handheld device. There's also the world of abandonware, old games and true homebrew to enjoy!

With only a year or so of leading Japanese developer interest in the Vita, this has to be, on balance, good news. Soon, those developers will start moving wholesale to NX, leaving Sony's portable dreams to history.

As another positive, it might also encourage Sony and other publishers to push more legit retro content to compete, for those who can't be bothered with all the FTP work involved. At worst, Sony could kill Vita production tomorrow, but no one outside our little group would really care!

UPDATE: Apparently Henkaku was downloaded 30,000 times in the first few days, that's more than most Vita games sell I guess! Now its been out a few days, what's your take?

Pic from
A key point here is that Sony can't actually fight back. It no longer makes games for the Vita, it can't release some blockbuster title that politely forces the majority of gamers to upgrade, breaking the exploit or workaround (if it can be stopped). All you have to do is disable automatic updates to ensure Sony can't ruin your retro fun. Yes, it could get other publishers like Namco's upcoming God Eater games to require a firmware update, or ban users from using PSN store, but with the Vita's limited output, that's just a small dent in the user base.

So, I guess Sony will enjoy a few more hardware sales, while trying to play good cop. However, with all the Android consoles already offering these retro emulators and games, sales won't see a PSP-like spike.

Piracy will come eventually, as hackers root around inside whatever features this FTP-based system offers, but that's down to individuals to decide. What are your thoughts on this and what retro game are you most looking forward to playing?

1 comment:

  1. Cool! I was expecting this since a LOOOOOONG time! :)