HENkaku Update

Version Screen It’s been almost a month since the release of HENkaku. We now have over 100,000 unique installs! (That number excludes re-installs required after rebooting.) To celebrate, we are pushing the third major update and it includes features that many users have been asking for. For the impatient, you can get it right now by rebooting your Vita and installing HENkaku from https://henkaku.xyz/.

Release 2

First, let’s recap the features we added since the initial release.

  • Dynarec support: Developers can generate ARM code and execute it directly. This aids in JIT engines for emulators.
  • Offline installer: HENkaku can now run without a network connection thanks to work by xyz. He also made a nice writeup that you should check out if you’re interested in the technical details.
  • VitaShell 0.7: When we originally released HENkaku, we forked VitaShell to molecularShell because we didn’t want to spend too much time writing our own file manager. Thanks to The_FloW, our changes have been merged to the official VitaShell codebase and we no longer need molecularShell. This release had added many new features and bug fixes to the shell.

Release 3

Now, the fun stuff. Today, we are pushing the next major update to HENkaku. The following features will be available the next time you run the online HENkaku installer. Self-hosters should get the changes from Github.

  • PSN spoofing: You can access PSN without updating to 3.61! Please continue reading for some important notes.
  • Safe homebrew support: Developers can optionally mark their homebrews as “safe” and it will not gain restricted API access. We highly recommend developers who are not using such features to update their packages as safe.
  • VitaShell 0.8: Read the release notes from The_FloW for the list of changes to VitaShell.
  • Version string: A callback to the PSP days where every hack would change the system version string. We do that too now (see the screenshot) so we can provide better support to our users.
  • Update blocking: In HENkaku mode, firmware updates using the official servers are blocked. That way you won’t accidentally install 3.61 and it won’t download in the background regardless of your settings.

Again, you will see these updates immediately the next time you install HENkaku if you use the online installer. If you use the offline installer, you need to update the payload. To do this, you need to temporarily enable network functionality on your Vita and open the offline installer bubble (NOT the Mail application). Install offline HENkaku again and re-disable network functions. The next time you run offline HENkaku with the Mail application, you should see the new payload. Because of how the offline installer works, this will not update VitaShell. You must run the online installer again to get the latest VitaShell. Optionally, you can download the VitaShell 0.8 VPK and install it.

PSN Spoofing

You can access PSN after enabling HENkaku on 3.60 but please heed this warning. Using hacks on your PlayStation console is (and always has been) against the PSN terms of service and is a ban-able offense. We have had hacks of various forms on the Vita for years and nobody has ever been banned and hopefully this will stay true in the future. However, because HENkaku has opened up the console more than any previous hacks, we might be at a point when Sony decides to enforce the PSN ToS and start banning people. That is why my personal recommendation is that you do not use PSN on your HENkaku enabled console even though we give you the option to (at your own risk). If you are paranoid, you may want to use only the offline installer so your Vita does not communicate with Sony’s servers. Or you may want to format your console in order for the console to not be associated with your main PSN account. Again, there has not been any confirmed bans nor have I heard of an incoming ban-wave, but my gut feeling is that you should be prepared.

The PSN spoofing is only temporary! The next time Sony releases an update, I predict that spoofing will become a lot more difficult to do. So make sure you download the games you want and update your PS+ licenses while you still can.

Safe Homebrew

HENkaku gives developers access to public APIs (the same APIs licensed developers use to make games), private APIs (hidden APIs that may be exposed to licensed developers in the future), and restricted APIs (APIs used internally by the operating system and is not meant for external developers to use). We have seen many cool homebrews that make use of restricted APIs. For example, RegistryEditor by some1 allows you to access hidden system settings not exposed in the Settings application. There are also experimental homebrew that allow you to modify system files (at your own risk) in order to change layouts and to find exploits. Unfortunately, it also allows for malicious developers to write homebrew that wipes your memory card or (although we have not seen such an application yet) even brick your console. We have always warned the community to be vigilant, but from a design perspective, it does not make sense to give every homebrew full access.

Therefore we added the option for developers to specify their homebrew as “safe” and not get access to restricted APIs and not disable the filesystem sandbox. All you have to do is download the latest toolchain and change the call to vita-make-fself in your Makefile to vita-make-fself -s. Safe homebrews can still access all public APIs and private APIs (so you still have dynarec, changing clock speed, etc) as well as specific directories on the memory card, but there is no access to restricted APIs (registry, system partitions, etc).

Most homebrews would already be considered “safe” (you would know if you used a restricted API). However, the big catch is that ux0: (memory card) access is now restricted to ux0:data (for arbitrary data), app0: (a mount of your application directory at ux0:app/TITLEID), and savedata0: (a mount of your application save). There is no direct access to ux0:app/TITLEID since safe homebrews are sandboxed. If you wish to use and store custom data on the memory card, please use ux0:data as it can be accessed by all applications and is not deleted when your bubble is deleted (useful for emulators).

So what about unsafe homebrew? HENkaku still supports running them, but VitaShell will now throw a nice and scary warning message whenever the user attempts to install an unsafe homebrew. The hope is that if someone decides to package up a bricking malware as a “game”, the user can be alerted because games wouldn’t need extended permissions. However, in order for this warning system to work, developers of safe homebrew must update their current packages to be safe. We do not want to numb users to the warning as all “legacy” applications are currently considered “unsafe.”

To recap, if you do nothing, your .vpk is by default considered to be unsafe and can still have access to restricted APIs and all filesystems. If you do not wish to have the unsafe message pop up every time a user installs your vpk, then you should download the latest toolchain and change the call to vita-make-fself in your Makefile to vita-make-fself -s. All current homebrew are still supported and still work and there are no changes to the behavior of anything already installed.

On Piracy

Now for the elephant in the room. For those who aren’t familiar, I recommend reading my reply on how I approach piracy. The short of it is that, as I’ve stated countless times, I do not care if you pirate games or not. I personally will not write piracy-enabling or piracy-aiding tools, but if you do it, then that’s your business and not mine. We did not add DRM/anti-piracy code nor did we add anti-DRM/piracy code. The whole point of HENkaku is owning your own device. Sony does not get to tell you what you can or cannot do with the device you bought. Same with molecule. That is what I believe. I’m writing this because I have been receiving a lot of harassment lately for things I have not said and for ideals I do not have. Please do not waste both of our time trying to convince me that piracy is/is not bad.

On KOTH Challenge

We have seen many great progress on the KOTH challenge to reverse HENkaku. The first stage has been reversed, and as promised, xyz did an amazing writeup that filled in the rest of the details. We have seen participants piecing together stage two and I think we can expect some of them to talk publicly about it soon. Once that happens, more information will be revealed by us. I am happy to hear that the participants are really enjoying the challenge and am even more delighted to hear that non-participants are really not enjoying the challenge 😉.


  1. Azure

    I can’t tell you how long I’ve been waiting for a way to get more out of my Vita. Thank you guys very much!

  2. killone

    The whole point of HENkaku is owning your own device.

    I bought a closed platform to play on one, free of hacks on equal footing

    Why cannot people accept this? I was born in the early 1980s and ive seen the advantages of open and closed platforms

    breaking open a closed platform is like breaking into a swimming pool and pooing in the water

    some people prefer to swim in the ocean (open platform) so a lil poo here and there doesnt bother them

    but pooing at the community pool (closed platform) is fucking shitty

    so in the coming months my nightly killzone merc sessions will be infected with hackers

    Im so mad. The user exepernce for those who wanted to own a closed platform go down the drain

    this is especally enragging cause open platforms are cheaper, more powerful as well

  3. @killone: you’re confusing the boundaries. We fight for the freedom to use our own devices, not for the freedom to own the servers they have access to. Nowadays you can access your bank account from a hacked device, it doesn’t make your bank less secure. If it did, your bank would be in trouble. Similarly, playing on game servers with a hacked devices should not make the game experience shitty, unless the programmers failed at security 101. Your pool metaphor is completely inaccurate. We want the right to do whatever we want with our swimsuits, not with the pool.

    @Yifan: thanks to you and Team molecule for a great update!

  4. bwitzberger

    Nice Wololo Sounds A Little Familiar?…I Have Been Trying To Tell You I Have been Ripping Games For The Vita…And Told You That It Is Possible To Completely Compromise The System……So Much More You Will Find My Friend….Read Your Email. Or Answer is KEY! The key to Communication. Peace.

  5. killone


    We fight


    the only thing you did was devalue what i invested in, a closed platform

    my user experince will degrade cause of this, either thru online hacking, less games or worse

    i have open platforms too i like those too and take advantage of them

    i like open platforms to stay open

    closed to stay closed.

    people who spend 100s and 1000s into closed platforms may want them to stay that way

    all you did was open a door that should have stayed locked

  6. docyoe

    @Yifan Great work Just wanted to let you know that I stumbled upon a bug : After the install of henkaku 3 the videoplayer in the browser stopped working ..could be because of the safe homebrew support…. A uninstall of henkaku solves the problem. Again great work mate.

  7. Paodowz

    This guy is genius i hope there will be more upcoming updates and not to much complex bcos im still new and enjoying the features of henkaku and other games TY sir


    @ Killone

    PSP sold about 80 millions units from Dec 2004 to date, and was OPENED from the very beginning, PSVITA is less than 15 million units. so why bothering complain about it? Someone put a gun to your head to use HENKAKU?

    YIFANLU Do not listen haters, YOU ARE THE NUMBER 1! thank for all your effort :) YOU made happy a lot of people

  9. jozer


    You sit there and try to say that there will be less games because of piracy when sony themselves already abandoned the vita and stopped making games for it. Sony does not care about the vita or the people playing on it just look at the price of memory cards on the thing. When the PSP was hacked their was a rush of console sales on that system, its not all about piracy which is how you try to paint it. Maybe you like being tossed into a room and having the door locked on you so you can play with your little black box but some people want to unlock the door and go smell some fresh air for a change.

  10. Qiangmu

    I’must have done something wrong. I tried to reinstall the update. I’still need to reconnect to site once restart my psvita. Offline installer doesn’t work automatically ??

    Thanks all the same. you guys r really osam

  11. KB

    Great, now we need to find a way to either downgrade vitas or make henkaku work on 3.61; dumb me updated before I even heard of henkaku.

  12. SpartanHexus

    Question: There is only one game i truly want to play that will be released on 2017 (its a visual novel so it might even release on steam anyway but…), i don’t care about psn however i might need it to play that certain game, will i be safe if i use henkaku until the release of the said game and the before getting it, formating the vita and entering my normal account?

  13. killone

    “Maybe you like being tossed into a room and having the door locked on you so you can play with your little black box but some people want to unlock the door and go smell some fresh air for a change.”

    There are plenty of better, more powerful open platforms, some even handheld, i own a few and i actually play rom on that i own original copies for (unlike 99% of emulation users)

    psvita is weak, old hardware,

    psvita cracked open ruins the user experince for those who want to be part of a closed ecosystem, it takes its last true perk and throws it away.

    all this does is set in motion an always online future with forced cloud saves

    sony may have sunset thier 1st party dev on the device, but 3rd parties stayed with the machine, now western publishers will have little to no insentive to localize games

    all i see is memory card sales spiking with all these “backups” being distributed

    all games deserve all their sales, and with piracy, even one last sale is a travesty.

    if you want to “own” your device buy an open platform and buzz off there, I bought into a closed ecosystem and that was stolen from me

  14. killone


    funny you use the psp as an example, piracy held back alot of games being localized for the psp and stopped games from being finished, a simple fact check can confirm this

    dont dishonestly put your head in the sand about it if you decide to research it

    A big reason the vita didnt take off is cause of the mobile market boom

    Another one was losing monster hunter games to nintendo

    probly the memory card expense

    Anyhow im done, there is no honor among you thieves

    im 100% confident most of you dont even own original copies of the games you emulate or use “backups” for and you think just because the game is old and hard to obtain, you think its okay to pirate it.

  15. paul

    is it possible to downgraid my vita becase it auto updated when i was downloading my games from psn :( i realy liked my GBA emulator

  16. Asuka

    It is really strange that I install henkaku 5, but the updated molecularShell is base on vitashell 0.6, thus I can’t install any vpk, even can’t update the molecularShell manually because only ux0:data have the write permission. Even if I format my vita and it’s memory card, same thing appears. Isn’t is a henkaku.xyz’s bug?

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