Can You Play Japanese Games On An American PS Vita?

Regional lockout started in a big way with the NES, which used different cartridge designs for its American and Japanese games. However, 7th gen consoles from Sony and Microsoft started removing this feature in exchange for more streamlined cross-region publishing and games support. The Vita is a pseudo-8th-gen console when you consider its release date (2011), and it’s like owning a portable PS3.

So, can you play Japanese games on an American PS Vita? Yes, as the Vita has no explicit region-lock features built into its hardware or game cartridges. However, content and save files linked to a Japanese PSN account won’t work as Vita supports one PSN account per user.

There is a way to get around the PSN account issue. Since a PSN account is tied to the server and not actual Vita hardware, you can simply reset your Vita and format its memory card. Then, log in with the PSN account you want to use.

Can You Play Japanese Games On An American PS Vita?

Any Vita can play games from any region, the only drawback is that you have to switch PSN accounts if you want to access online content and saves. Let’s say you have purchased Japanese Vita cartridges for region-exclusive games like Valkyrie Chronicles 3 and Gundam Breaker 2.

These will work just fine on your American Vita, but you can’t access online features without a Japanese PSN account. For that, you’ll have to reset your factory to factory defaults and format the memory card. Then, you can log into a Japanese PSN account.

If you don’t want to format your memory card just to play Japanese games, buy a second card. These days, it’s hard to find proprietary Vita memory cards at decent prices. So I suggest you grab an adapter that lets you insert regular micro SD cards into your Vita.

However, these adapters require custom firmware (like HENkaku).

Are PS Vita Games Region Locked?

No, PS Vita itself doesn’t support any region lock feature. However, game developers will often release a game within a specific region. Like Valkyrie Chronicles 3 which isn’t available on the American PSN store.

Unlike cartridges for retro consoles like the NES, Vita cartridges from different regions don’t have any unique physical features. So you can take a Japanese game cartridge and insert it into the slot of an American PS Vita.

One thing worth noting is that PlayStation consoles in Japan reverse the functions of circle and cross. Normally, you press cross to accept and circle to go back.

Japanese PlayStations have it in reverse- circle to select, and cross to go back. The position of these buttons is the same, they just fulfill different roles. However, it is only an issue if you import Japanese Vitas.

Even with imported Vitas, the issue doesn’t persist within games. It’s mostly limited to the menu (which can also be navigated via touch). And if it bugs you, just change button assignments within PS Vita’s system settings.

Can PS Vita Play PSP Games?

Not natively, as the Vita features no UMD drive and uses an ARM Cortex-A9 processor. However, PSP games can run via emulation on Vita. No, you don’t have to hack your Vita- Sony officially supports backward compatibility.

But, it’s only available in a digital format on the PSN store. Even if you already own a physical copy of a PSP game, you must redownload it from the PSN store. Vita can also play PS One Classics (a group of PS1 games available for download from Sony).

Can You Switch A Japanese PS Vita To English?

You certainly can, like with most consoles these days. It doesn’t matter which country your Vita was purchased in; the language can be changed from within system settings. You are provided with these options when you go through the initial configuration for your Vita after taking it out of the box for the first time.

With a used Vita, you won’t get the initial setup page when you boot up. But don’t worry- there are plenty of online guides that show you which icons and menus you must select to get English on your Vita. It’s a very easy process and takes no more than a minute.

Which Is Better- PS Vita 1000 or 2000?

If you can get your hands on a Vita 2000, it delivers slightly improved battery life and has 1GB of internal storage. So, you don’t need memory cards to save your game progress with a Vita Slim (2000). However, the Slim also has a worse screen and is built to slightly lower standards.

I’m not saying the model 2000 feels cheap, it’s just not as overbuilt and sturdy as the original. Plus, the Vita 1000 uses an OLED panel with better colors, viewing angles, and contrast. Sony switched to an LCD panel in the Vita 2000, which helped reduce costs.

And honestly, the OLED doesn’t look that much better in games. Unless you use your Vita primarily for movies and photos, the reduced weight and size of a Slim model are probably worth it. But I understand that some folks prefer the weightier feel of the original Vita.

What Are The Best Free Games On PS Vita?

Ps Vita games are quite cheap nowadays, and you can certainly run “backup” copies of games with a hacked Vita. However, some folks just want to kill time without resorting to unlawful means. And for those of you on a tight budget, there are a few free games worth checking out.

These will help you get a feel for the console until you save up enough to buy some games. Top free games on Vita include titles like Cliff Diving, Crazy Market, Vitamin Z, and Zen Pinball 2. Some of these might not support achievements, so keep that in mind.


I hope this article helped you understand how cross-region gaming on the PS Vita works. In short, Vita has no region locks built into its hardware or games. You can take a Japanese game cartridge, insert it into an American Vita, and it will play just fine.

However, I hope you have at least a basic understanding of the Japanese language. Because even though your Vita can be switched to English, the game dialogue and menu options will remain Japanese. If you’re running a hacked Vita, you might find fan mods for games that translate it from Japanese to English.


As long as I can remember myself I always enjoyed video games. I had amazing moments playing them and that's why I became a game developer, to create amazing experiences for the players. Read More About Me

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