The PS Vita was designed to compete with Nintendo’s 3DS, and it continued the legacy of the PSP. Only this time, Sony improved the hardware and control layout even further. But it removed the UMD disc drive and utilized a cartridge-based media format instead.
So, can PSP games be played on PS Vita? Yes, it is backward compatible with PSP games but you can’t insert UMDs into the Vita because it lacks the drive slot. Instead, you purchase digital copies of PSP games from the online store and download them via Wi-Fi to your PS Vita memory card.
Sony also had a service that let you transfer PSP games from your PS3 to PS Vita with a USB cable. But this was stopped via a software update in March 2022. Any game you download digitally will be stored on the Vita memory card, so make sure you have sufficient space.
Can PSP Games Be Played On PS Vita?
Yes, you can play PSP games on a Vita but it won’t take PSP discs natively. Instead, you download digital copies from the PlayStation store at a discounted price. And not all PSP games are available this way.
At launch, 275 PSP titles were available for download on the PS Vita. Over time, several more were added to the backward compatibility library. The PS Vita can even play a selection of PS1 games called PS one Classics (again, digital-only copies).
While the PSP uses a MIPS R4000 processor running between 200 to 333MHz, the PS Vita is powered by an ARM Cortex-A9 quad-core. It also uses a PowerVR SGX543MP GPU. There is no way to natively run PSP games on the Vita, as their hardware is very different.
Plus, there is no legacy PSP CPU on the board like Sony used to do with their old full-size consoles. Instead, the Vita uses software emulation which works quite well. If you want to play PSP titles that aren’t included in the PlayStation store, you will have to do a software mod on your Vita.
Can You Still Download PSP Games On Vita?
Yes, but only on the PS Vita version of the store. You can no longer download PSP games onto your PS3 or any other PlayStation console, and then transfer them to your Vita. You will also need a memory card of suitable size because the Vita only has 1GB of internal flash storage, which is used to store system software and user data.
What Games Can You Play On PS Vita?
The Vita launched with a small game library but received several AA and AAA releases over its lifespan. Physical games on the Vita were released via a proprietary media card format. Sony also used a proprietary memory card design.
As for genres, the Vita has everything from shooters to RPGs. It can play all these games thanks to the control layout. You had a D-pad on the left, with two analog sticks- one on either side of the touch display.
There are PlayStation buttons (square, circle, cross, and triangle) on the right. It is the same control setup as a PlayStation controller, only with a display in the middle. Thanks to a touchpad on the rear panel, some unique game mechanics could be implemented into Vita titles.
If you want AAA-quality FPS gaming, try Killzone: Mercenary. For those who want to enjoy Minecraft, it is available on Vita. Fighting game enthusiasts are going to love Mortal Kombat for the Vita.
And if you’re interested in story-driven titles with good characters, check out The Walking Dead. There is also an abundance of JRPGs for the Vita with big names like Zero Escape, Ys, and Danganronpa. Games like Persona 4 and Gravity Rush have a bit of everything- good story, graphics, and gameplay.
Is The PS Vita Still Worth Buying?
If you can get your hands on one at a reasonable price, I say go for it. There is a 3G version and a Wi-Fi-only version. If you aren’t interested in cellular internet, get the Wi-Fi-only version (the 3G version also has Wi-Fi).
The original “fat” model of the PS Vita comes with an OLED display, and this was revolutionary back in 2012. Later Slim models ditched the OLED in favor of a regular LCD to reduce costs. However, the LCD screen has worse contrast and black levels.
If you’re buying a used Vita (or a brand-new boxed one) on sites such as Amazon/ eBay, pay attention to the model type. Slim Vitas launched at a cheaper price, and should therefore be priced lower. They have the model number “PCH-2000” while the fat ones are “PCH-1000”.
You can use the Vita as a portable emulation beast by modding it. You can also carry media on its memory card (movies, music, photos, etc.). And some of the original Vita games are still excellent to this day (especially the JRPGs like Persona).
PS Vita vs 3DS
The Nintendo 3DS was a massive success and sold nearly 76 million units. In comparison, the Vita is estimated to have sold just 15 to 16 million units (Sony never released official figures). Despite losing the sales battle, the Vita beats Nintendo’s handheld in terms of raw power.
While the 3DS runs an ARM11 dual-core with architecture dating back to 2005, the Vita is powered by an ARM Cortex-A9 quad-core. The Cortex-A9 is a much newer architecture, has twice the number of cores, and runs at faster clock speeds. Plus, the Vita also has a more powerful GPU along with several times more RAM than the 3DS.
Sure, the 3DS has a stereoscopic 3D display- but this feature was never the main selling point. And you can argue that regular 2D gaming looks better on the Vita thanks to its OLED screen. The 3DS wins out on battery life, but the Vita is a better multitasker with its ability to play movies and music.
We can keep this contest going all day, but the Vita is more than a worthy contender to the 3DS. And if you’re looking for a multimedia machine rather than a pure handheld gaming console, it is the better device. I would argue that its design choices have aged better than the 3DS.
That’s because Sony took some inspiration from smartphones (they even encouraged smartphone game devs to make games for the Vita). Today, every handheld PC and portable console uses a portrait layout with two analog sticks and a display in the middle.
Why Did PS Vita Fail?
Sony tried to do a bit of everything with the Vita. And as a result, it feels like a smartphone-wannabe rather than a focused gaming device. There is even a 3G version of the Vita that can accept SIM cards (it costs more than the regular Wi-Fi-only model).
It can’t handle regular calls like a smartphone. But by using Skype for Vita, you can make voice and video calls to other devices with Skype. Plus, you can receive calls in the background while playing games or using other apps.
In addition to all this, the Vita also has a multimedia player for movies and music. Its OS looks similar to old Android versions, and you can download apps from the PlayStation store. The Vita tried to do too many things.
In contrast, Nintendo made sure that the 3DS only did one thing- play games. And the entire console was designed around that one goal. You could say the 3DS is more of a toy, while the Vita is for hardcore users who want to multitask.
But we already had smartphones for that. Sony’s console came in at a time when smartphone gaming was already taking off. And they didn’t have the jaw-dropping first-party exclusives that you got with a Nintendo 3DS, which hurt Vita sales even further.
I hope this article helped shed some light on how PS Vita backward compatibility works. Unlike the 3DS which could accept DS cartridges natively, the Vita doesn’t support UMDs. As a result, you can’t just pop in your old PSP game disc.
You will have to download a digital copy of the game from Sony’s PlayStation store. Thankfully, the prices are heavily discounted compared to launch prices.