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Video: Picodrive Sega Megadrive Emulator Demo via HBL on PS Vita


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147w ago - Following up on his previous confirmation, today Sony PlayStation Vita hacker wololo has made available a video below demonstrating the Half Byte Loader (HBL) running the Picodrive Sega Megadrive emulator with Sonic & Knuckles on PS Vita.

To quote: Update: One important clarification: This video shows HBL running on the latest firmware 1.510. The firmware update that happened today does not patch the exploit, unlike what some sites are saying.

A few days ago Japanese developer Teck4 posted a picture of a “hello world” running on the PS Vita through the PSP emulator. I contacted him immediately with some help from Mamosuke, and I soon got enough information to start working on porting Half Byte Loader to this exploit (note that Teck4 is also working on exploiting this vulnerability further, but I don’t know how far he’s been).

What you see in the video below is the game “Sonic & Knuckles” running in picodrive, a Megadrive emulator for the PSP.

Yes, I’m running an emulator inside a hacked emulator on the Vita, that’s kind of cool. There’s lots to say about this ongoing work, but first let me state that, for once, this HBL port is entirely my work, except for the underlying PSP exploit which is initially from Teck4. I’ve been testing other people’s work for a while, so it was about time I got back to coding myself

Now that my ego is satisfied, let’s move on to the details of the video below. I have good news, bad news, and ugly news. But first check the video below, the first usable hack on the PS vita, 10 days after the console is released

1. THE GOOD

This is technically HBL rising from the deads, running on the PS Vita, and loading the picodrive emulator. Usually I would show you the entire loading process, but you’ll understand that some of the things I do (in particular the exploit used) need to be kept under wraps until the whole thing is made public (if it is ever made public, read more below).

I hope however that given my reputation on the PSP scene this won’t be categorized as a fake, please understand that I can’t show much this time. Picodrive is one of the easiest homebrews to run on HBL for some reason, that’s why I’m using it in my test. People who’ve used HBL a lot in its early days will recognize the sound glitch, this is some 22kHz sound being played at 44kHz, or the other way around, I can never remember.

That’s because the PSP emulator is using PSP’s firmware 6.60, for which HBL’s syscall estimation code seems to be a bit useless. (I am still pending some reply from Teck4 to see if it would make sense to “officially” involve more hackers on this port, and see if we can fix those syscalls problems. For now, as far as I know I’m the only one who made it that far on the Vita, and I feel kind of lonely on this new hacking scene ^^).

Another good piece of news for me is that before HBL could run Homebrews so “smoothly” on the PSP, it took us several months (I can’t remember exactly, 3 month maybe before we got it running “ok-ish” ?), while here it took me 3 days to get it to a usable state. Clearly, we didn’t lie when we said HBL would be portable to new game exploits

So, that’s the good, I’ve proven to myself that it is possible to run HBL and actual homebrews on the Vita. With little effort, HBL could probably be improved to some extent on that exploit, and run a few useful homebrews.

2. The bad

There are slightly bad news too. One is the syscall estimation algorithm being busted, as I explained above. I discussed a bit with JJS, and it is probable that if a function is not imported by the game itself, we might not be able to use it at all. I’ll have a closer look (if I decide to dig further on this) to see if this can be improved, but that could greatly limit the amount of homebrews that can be played on this.

Another issue is that the time currently needed to load/run homebrews for the “end user” is a bit too long to my taste. In its current state, for now I don’t think this is (or will be, even if improved) very useful for the end user. Basically, if I want to run PSP homebrews for now, it’s way easier and cheaper to do so on a PSP, even on an unhacked one, through HBL.

So, the overall uselessness of this makes me wonder if it should be kept secret in order for other hackers to do some research on it, or if it should really be released. I wouldn’t like people to point fingers at me if Sony patches some security flaws after this exploit goes public… I won’t take that decision alone (since I’m not the only one knowing the exploit), obviously, and there’s still time until the US/EU release, but I’m seriously considering the options here.

I have also yet to find a “good” way to install and run homebrews. I thought I had found a convenient way, but it didn’t work as expected. I’ll dig more on that, but it seems the PSP filesystem, as seen through the emulator on the vita, is a bit tricky and sneaky...

The ugly

There is, however, far worse than the little concerns above. What concerns me to a great extent is that I realized today that Sony can potentially spy everything we do with the content manager. Today I was forced to update my PS Vita to the new firmware. The content manager refuses to run if its PC client is not connected to the internet, and it refuses to run if the console doesn’t have the latest firmware.

This means not only that Sony can force you to update your Vita firmware whenever they feel like it (something they never dared to do on the PSP or the PS3), but also that every time you copy a file from or to your Vita, some information is possibly sent to Sony’s servers. I half joked about me copying my adult movies to the Vita and Sony knowing about it, but it really concerns me that Sony is spying on the files I have on my hard drive just because I bought one of there gadgets.

I’m thinking here that the upcoming hacks for the PS Vita will involve lots of legal fights. It seems to me that unless Sony can prove they are not spying on their users, it is potentially illegal to require the tool to be connected while the content manager is running. Something as big as CarrierIQ could happen to them if their customers are willing to take it to court at some point (that’s an official call to network engineers would would like to analyze what’s going on when the content manager is connected to the Intern...).

Incidentally, this is also means that Sony could be already aware of the hack and the techniques we’ve been using to trigger it, assuming they take a close look at the interactions between users’ PC and the Vita.

Anyways, despite these massive concerns, I’m proud to announce that I got some homebrew to run on the Vita 10 days after its release… as said before by BlackFire, it’s like “posting a sticker on a fortress”. Not very useful, but a message to Sony that we’re around







Stay tuned for more PS3 Hacks and PS3 CFW news, follow us on Twitter and be sure to drop by the PS3 Hacks and PS3 Custom Firmware Forums for the latest PlayStation 3 scene updates and homebrew releases!

Comments 189 Comments - Go to Forum Thread »

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GrandpaHomer's Avatar
#184 - GrandpaHomer - 134w ago
Sony is CRAPPING themselves from any even minor attempts to hack Vita - it was clearly rushed out to meet the release dates (both in Japan as well as worldwide) and is still full of security holes as Emental cheese ... the sooner this get permanently hacked the better.

hunterr's Avatar
#183 - hunterr - 134w ago
The game is removed from the EU store a few moments ago. I just wanna to buy it , but i got an error when i was trying to pay for it and after that it was gone

I must say 1 day not bad for Sony

NTA's Avatar
#182 - NTA - 135w ago
I've never seen such a talented writer LMAO

elser1's Avatar
#181 - elser1 - 135w ago
ha. that letter is hilarious.. good work.. love the sarcastic views of this dangerous terrorist. LOL

PS3 News's Avatar
#180 - PS3 News - 135w ago
Following up on his PS Vita VHBL Motorstorm Arctic Edge release, this weekend PS Vita and PSP hacker wololo has revealed that Everybody's Tennis (known as Hot Shots Tennis in the US and Minna no Tennis in Japan) contains a vulnerability that could lead to the execution of external code and has since been removed from PSN by Sony.

Download: [Register or Login to view links] / [Register or Login to view links] / [Register or Login to view links]

To quote from his blog (linked above) as follows: Dear Sony, it has come to my [Register or Login to view links] that one of the PSP games available on the PlayStation Vita has a vulnerability that could lead to the execution of external code by some malicious users. Therefore I am writing this blog post so that you can patch the game or remove it from the PSN store as soon as possible.

Preferably, I suggest you take the money from your clients first, and prevent them from downloading the game afterwards, just like you did with Motorstorm Arctic Edge, 3 weeks ago. This way it will be a win-win situation for you, and you can always blame it on the hackers later on.

As a matter of fact, I have discovered that some "hackers" (I prefer to call them terrorists) have already prepared a [Register or Login to view links] which, using this vulnerability, could allow people to run software that would be extremely dangerous for your business, such as 20 year-old 8 bit games and 154 different versions of pong.

I think this puts your business at risk, and I've tried to stop those vilains by all means necessary, but sadly it seems they are not breaking any law. Hopefully, giving you the name of the game will help you to take some efficient action.

Those people are clearly wrong in their mind to try to play crappy open source software, when they could enjoy a great game such as Ridge Racer for less than 10$ a track, (which is clearly not a ripoff compared to the price one would have to pay in the real world to drive cars that completely defy the laws of physics. Although on that subject I woud like if you could help me, as my version of the game seems to be blocked in "demo mode" for some reason. All the 5 cars have exactly the same specs, so surely there's something I've done wrong somewhere.)

I digress. The name of the game is Everybody's Tennis. It is also known as Minna no tennis in Japan. Thankfully the game is not available on the US Vita store, so this should limit the problems on your end. I heard however that these hackers have prepared a US version of the hack just in case that version is being sold somewhere such as the HK store. I also heard people can buy the UK version from the US if they buy some PSN cards from resellers on ebay and other sites.

If I may give some advice, I think this is not secure enough. True, you did a good job in preventing people from buying games outside of the country they live in (and being a French living in Japan, I can't tell you how much I appreciate the fact that I can't buy any game on the French PSN, this is exactly how globalization should work, and it helps me sparing lots of money by not buying any game), but I think in order to avoid future hacks, you should simply prevent everyone from buying games on the PSN, which will guarantee you a complete control of the market.

The hackers also announced they would release their hack a few hours or days after they announce the name of the game being used. They claim this only allows people to run "homebrew" games and that in no way it allows people to play pirated PSP or vita games, but I think this is not an excuse to hack.

I realize it is saturday evening for your teams in Europe, and Sunday morning in Japan. I hope you will not have to wake some people in the middle of the night just to take action, I would have chosen a better time, but I myself have very little time to blog outside of weekends.

Hoping that working together we will be able to stop hackers. I seem to be one of the few people on Earth who understand that the real enemies of the Vita are not your poor marketing techniques, the terrible software such as the "back to the 90′s" netfront browser, the bad launch lineup, the delays on the playstation suite, the recent downgrade from 5 to 2 allowed copies of any given psn game, and the increasing competition of smartphones that all have better CPUs than the Vita. No, the real enemies are those people playing Lamecraft, who are clearly killing the videogame market, so let's destroy them together.

Please pay extra attention to the dev known as wth, who apparently is behind this whole thing, as well as Teck4 who apparently helped him for the Japanese version of the hack. I also heard that somes guys named mamosuke and msparky83 were involved in the testing. It would be good if you have a way to maybe track these guys' phones or something. Or maybe you can simply sue them, I heard it's something you do very well.

Yours truly, W. Ololo

Update: Following our discovery yesterday that the Honk Kong version of Everybody's Tennis was different from the 3 other ones, wth got to work and adapted VHBL to this version. I haven't tested this, but hopefully people who bought the HK version of Everybody's Tennis can confirm if it works.

WTH also hinted to me that he might be able to get rid of the current limitation on the European version of the exploit, in which people have to switch the language of their console to French before running VHBL. Stay tuned.

Thanks to the great work of wth, here is the long awaited second release of VHBL. Those of you who missed the Motorstorm exploit probably had a chance to grab a copy of Everybody's Tennis before Sony pulled it (let's be happy, they gave us a bit more than 30 hours this time, last time was 8 hours). If not, well stay tuned, there are still other PSP user exploits lying around, and I'm sure something will come eventually.

But let's get to the real subject here, this new release of VHBL. Sadly, I didn't test it myself on my Vita, only on a PSP, so here's to hope everything will go well. The full port has been done by wth (a.k.a. Yosh), with some help from Teck4 (JP exploit), and msparky83 and mamosuke (testing). I wasn't involved in this port, so all credit goes to these guys. I want to thank as usual all the developers behind HBL, who made it relatively easy to port, in particular m0skit0 and JJS. Yosh also adds special thanks to dridri85, Zer01ne, Truthkey, and other devs who kept this a secret while it was being developed. From the readme:

  • HBL port to the EU/US/JP versions of the exploit by Yosh
  • EU/US Exploit by Yosh, JP Exploit by teck4, discovered by Yosh
  • wololo for the help

Thanks go to:

  • All the devs who made HBL what it is today, in particular m0skit0 and JJS
  • dridri85, Zer01ne, Truthkey and all the other devs who kept the secret, that's much appreciated guys
  • Monsieur2T2R for the cool VHBL icons/wallpapers

Apologies to all the people who bought the Everybody's Tennis game from the HK store, it turns out that version is a 4th version of the game for which no exploit was prepared yet.

The HK version of the game is difficult to find, so if you happen to own that game on your PSP and are a bit technical savvy, you might want to give it a try and port VHBL to it. I'm convinced it's just a matter of time, it just takes one guy.

So, to whoever will do that port, thanks in advance, and to people who are waiting for the HK version of VHBL, please stay tuned. Neither wth nor me were actually aware that the HK version was different from the other 3, so it might take a while for something to be ready, but we're not forgetting you.

HOW TO INSTALL AND RUN HBL ON EVERYBODY'S TENNIS

  • It is *strongly* recommended that you turn of all wireless connections on your PS Vita, and that you use OpenCMA on your PC instead of the regular CMA. This is recommended because otherwise your console has a way to force you to upgrade the firmware even before you get a chance to use the exploit.
  • Extract the HBL archive matching your version of the game in your CMA PSP Savedata folder. It is a folder on your PC named PSSAVEDATA/[lots of random characters here]. If you don't know where it is, check your settings in CMA
  • Connect your PS Vita to the PC through the CMA, it should give you the possibility to copy the savedata from your PC to the Vita. If not, you probably extracted it in the wrong folder. (Note: You will also want to install some homebrews with a similar technique, read the section below)
  • Important for owners of the European version of the game: Before running Everybody's tennis, you need to change the language of your PS Vita/PSP to French. This is a limitation of the exploit for now, this might or might not change in future revisions. you can of course switch your console back to your own language once you are done playing with VHBL.
  • To run HBL, start the Tennis game, select "Continue" in the Main Menu. At this point, HBL should start

HOW TO INSTALL AND RUN HOMEBREW

Installing homebrew on the PSP was an easy task. On the Vita, until better solutions are provided, it's quite a pain in the rear. The CMA will only let you copy savedata, and will not recursively browse folders. To address this, HBL comes with a tool that can extract archives with a specific structure.Packaging the homebrew for installation on the Vita:

1) download PSP homebrew from your favorite Web site (wololo.net/downloads)
2) extract the homebrew somewhere on your hard drive, and with your favorite utility, zip it again with the *store* setting (no compression), in a file that you will name "install.zip"
3) take any PSP savedata (but not the one used for HBL!), and add the "install.zip" to that folder, in your PC CMA folder. so your PSP Savedata will look something like this:
in folder PSSAVEDATA/1a2b3c4def5678/UCUS12345000/ (or something like this) you will have the following files:

  • ICON0.png
  • PIC1.png
  • DATA.bin
  • PARAMS.SFO
  • install.zip

Installing:

1) run OpenCMA on your PC, and CMA on your Vita
2) copy the previously packaged SAVEDATA (see above) with your homebrew in "install.zip" on your Vita
3) run HBL (how to run HBL is explained in the previous section)
4) navigate with the HBL menu to the SAVEDATA folder, then go to the folder you just downloaded (in my example, UCUS12345000), and clikc cross or circle on it
5) At this point, the HBL menu should ask you if you want to install the homebrew. select yes, and wait until HBL is done extracting your homebrew
6) The homebrew is now installed, and you can run it by going to the GAME folder, if everything went well, a new subfolder with your homebrew has been created here, and you can run the homebrew

OpenCMA (wololo.net/downloads/index.php/download/1252) is strongly recommended to install if you want to use VHBL. Open CMA is a tool by Virtuous Flame that allows you to copy files from and to your vita without being connected to the internet. This is useful, especially if you don't want Sony to forcefully update your firmware.

Update 2: PlayStation Vita developer wololo[ has updated (wololo.net/wagic/2012/04/15/new-vhbl-version-for-everybodys-tennis-gets-rid-of-language-limitation-in-eu-version/) the VHBL version for Everybody's Tennis, which now gets rid of language limitation in EU version. Downloads:

  • [Register or Login to view links] (All EU versions except Italy)
  • [Register or Login to view links] (Italian version)
  • [Register or Login to view links] (JP/US, also works with the EU version, but for EU the links above are recommended)
  • [Register or Login to view links] (HK)


To quote: "Developer wth released today an update to his Everybody's Tennis exploit, specifically for the EU store. This change does not improve homebrew compatibility, but will work independently of the language of your console. Yes, finally, no need to switch your console to French or Spanish.

Even though there is no new homebrew compatibility, I'm sure this will be a welcome update for those of you who are using this exploit."




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