PSP Games and Homebrews running on the PS3 through a hack

April 9, 2013

pspps3Just a few weeks after unlocking essential secrets to PS2 emulation, the PS3 scene has been super active again for the past few days, after initial announcement from developer zecoxao on ps3hax that psp games (and potentially homebrews) could run on the PS3. Zecoxao discussed the idea that potentially any psp game could be injected into regular psp mini games to run on the ps3 (basically using a ps3 compatible mini game as a “disguise” for running other psp games or homeberew); which was quickly followed by proof of concept code, itself followed by fully usable tool suites to run “any” psp game on a PS3.

The whole process is not entirely user-friendly and definitely not noob proof yet, but as I type this, progress on this is made on a hourly basis, so if you’re interested in running PSP games on our PS3, be sure to regularly check your favorite PS3/PSP scene sites (this obviously includes wololo.net :P ).

You missed the events? Man, where have you been for the past 5 minutes?

A quick summary of what happened over the past few days:

The Cobra dongle, one of the infamous dongles of the PS3 scene, offers gamers the possibility to play PSP games on their hacked PS3. Several PSP Minis are already available officially on the SEN store, as well as a few “remastered” PSP Games, but one benefit of the Cobra dongle (besides the obvious one of being able to run pirated PSP games…) is that it made it possible to run PSP Games that are not available on the store, virtually increasing the compatibility of the PSP library on the PS3, compared to a “regular” PS3 running OFW.

It had been suspected for a while that one of the steps used by the Cobra dongle to achieve this was to use normal PS3 compatible PSP Minis as a “camouflage” to trick the PS3 into running additional games.

About a week ago, developer zecoxao posted on ps3hax.net an explanation of the process to “swap” the content of a regular mini with some other content (another PSP game). He included the code to handle the process.

The source code cites him and arnold as the authors, as well as the people behind libkirk (Draan and Proxima, but also work from coyotebean, Davee, hitchhikr, kgsws, Mathieulh, SilverSpring). Those who have been following the PS3/PSP scene for a while will remember the libkirk work which started after the fail0verflow PS3 hack, and which was discussed in details 2 years ago here. (It is interesting to see how the PS3 and PSP scenes seem to be in a constant “give and take” relationship :) ). Zecoxao also mentioned critical help from JuanNadie’s code.

Following zecoxao’s work, several devs worked in parallel to improve the tools, figure out compatibility of various PSP games, and provide GUI and tutorials for the masses. As of this writing, people can run a reasonably large selection of PSP Games on their CFW PS3 thanks to these tools.

I’m definitely going to forget many people in there, but it seems the most up to date way to try and get PSP games to run on your PSP for now is to use szczuru’s PSP2PS3 tool, which can be downloaded here. This tool suite, besides szczuru, includes work from aldostools, RikuKH3, but maybe more importantly, and besides the work from zecoxao mentioned above, dozens of tools from the PSP/PS3 community. Sadly, the readme from szczuru does not include any of the credits for these tools, so it is difficult to track down the authors of all these. Hopefully a future revision of the tool suite will credit the right people.

Compatibility and homebrews

So, what can be done with this as of now? Currently most people have been interested in this breakthrough in order to run commercial psp games on their ps3. It is important to note at this point that not all PSP games will run after being patched with these tools. The Cobra dongle itself seems to be doing additional patches in Ram to increase compatibility of PSP Games, but even the dongle solution seems to be hit and miss. You’ll find ongoing compatibility lists on ps3hax, and I’m sure a nice soul will start one on our own forums as well.

Bottom line is, the psp emulator on the ps3 is not a perfect one (unlike the PSP emulator on the vita which is a full fledged MIPS emulator running the PSP firmware), and it seems this impacts the compatibility on many games. Again, as I mentioned above, hourly progress is made on that so the situation could evolve.

Maybe more interestingly for us, people have made progress on running PSP homebrews through this hack. User Harryoke, with the help of information from BlackDaemon, and with szczuru’s tool suite, managed to run simple PSP homebrew samples on the PS3.

You can actually discuss this directly with Harryoke and BlackDaemon on our forums here, they need all the help they can get from people with experience in either PSP or PS3 development, preferably both.

Now before people get super excited, remember that this (and all of the above) requires a Custom Firmware on your PS3, nothing of this is going to run on Official Firmware (at least for now), and as I mentioned above, compatibility is currently relatively limited.

But this is getting really interesting: one could wonder if popular PSP homebrews such as DaedalusX64 could end up running on the PS3. The PS3 still doesn’t have an N64 emulator, and DaedalusX64, even though it would be limited by the PSP emulator’s performance, would still be a welcome application to the PS3 scene. I’ve myself been wanting to see Wagic happen on the PS3 for a while now, and this could be the solution for this.

But things will probably not be that easy. DaedalusX64 is a fairly complicated piece of software and requires Kernel support to get the most of its hardware acceleration. Wagic itself could be an easier target, but its saving system assumes full access to the PSP memory stick, and I’m pretty sure that won’t work “out of the box”. Basically most homebrew that assumes access to ms0:/, or potentially any subfolder (that means Wagic, but also pretty much any emulator on the PSP), might be at risk of not running in that constrained environment (per opposition to homebrews that use the PSP’s internal savegame mechanics).

It is definitely the kind of project where I would love to see skilled people from the PSP scene come back to lend a hand to those from the ps3 scene, like this happens once in a while. Reverse-engineering the psp emulator on the ps3 could reveal lots of interesting information. If you’re one of the retired (or not) PSP legends, this might be the call for help you have been waiting for :)

I would myself gladly spend some time helping on this ongoing work, but the joys of parenthood prevent me from being a useful coder anymore. But I’ll be excitedly watching how this whole thing unravels :)

On a related note, you might want to know that myself and other PSP hackers have already tried to run PSP hello worlds through hacks in PSP Minis on the PS3. I’ll have you know that even the simplest code doesn’t seem to work. I have been told that the PSP emulator on the PS3 is a very different beast, with different addresses being used for the video framebuffer, and other interesting differences that made porting our typical VHBL exploits to the PS3 an impossibility (figuring that out would allow to run PSP homebrews on OFW PS3s).

Again, all the tools for this are under heavy development, definitely not noob-proof yet, and the result will only work on PS3s running a Custom Firmware or a DEX Firmware. Stay tuned as devs will definitely make progress on this.

Downloads

You can download PSP2PS3 here.

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