Sony’s PlayStation Vita hasn’t done nearly as well as its predecessor, the PSP did. That’s especially true here in South Africa, where we were, relative to our market size, one of the largest markets for the older generation handheld.

There’s probably a number of reasons for that – though I think much of it has to do with price. The PSP was available at mass-market pricing, but the more premium, powerful and feature rich Vita was priced as such. There’s also the issue of games. After an initial rush of pretty good first party games, the Vita slowly became a portable indie games machine. While there’s nothing at all wrong with that – because, let’s face it, Indie games are where the new and intriguing stuff happens – there are many people who only want to play the latest and greatest blockbuster games.

There is also the fact that the PSP was cracked wide open for piracy, letting people play games without having to resort to silly things like paying for them. That’s at least one reason why the Vita uses a proprietary memory card. It’s very possible that the Vita will never really be cracked open, letting pirates in to the system – but there is good news for those who like to tinker: it’s just been opened up to let homebrew run.

I used my PSP to run homebrew more than I played actual PSP games. A pretty powerful handheld at the time, it made an excellent emulator of older machines like the NES, GBA, SNES and Mega Drive – and it’s something I wish I could easily do on my Vita. And now I can.

There’s a new exploit that allows installation of a “jailbreak” that lets you install homebrew. Called HENkaku, all it requires is a PS Vita or PSTV running the current latest firmware (3.60), a memory card, an FTP client on your PC and internet access. Go to a site, and install it – and you’re able to install and run homebrew. It’s out now, and reports suggest it is working. There are already working homebrew apps, including emulators, and a port of DOOM.

But won’t this enable piracy, you ask? Possibly, but its developers, Molecule, say they’re working against that.

“A Note on Piracy We are all developers by trade and we understand the problem of piracy that usually arises from breaking the security features of a device. The usual response from hackers is “not our problem” but we believe we can do better. We carefully designed HENkaku to be as permissive as possible for developers to write homebrew supporting private APIs and the option to bypass sandboxes. However, we also made sure to make it as difficult as possible to repurpose our tools to enable piracy. While piracy is always inevitable, we will not make it easy.”

You can find out more, here.