PSP v2.0

The price on the Sony PSP has been coming down and the games are now actually a reasonable price ($10 - $20) so I decided to re-invest in one again.  I had one prior but it cost me $350; I kept it for a few months and sold it on eBay for $300; the new ones are $170.

PSPs are unique devices as they have a lot of functions, such as:

  • Games
  • MP3 Player
  • Video Player
  • Web Browser
  • RSS Reader (?)
  • Mass storage device (thumb drive)

There are also add-ons now for GPS and Webcam.   Hell, slap a HSDPA phone radio in and A2DP bluetooth support and it would be an iPhone killer!

But the real fun is trying to get the PSP to play something that it is not supposed to- namely NES/SNES/N64/GBA emulators and MAME!  This can also be called 'hacking' or 'modding' the PSP.

The PSP firmware is regularly updated so people cannot execute code on the device that would allow people to play things such as 'backup' copies of PSP games and other 'homebrew' applications as many of these cause conflicts in interest with other commercial titles (why by the Namco Museum when I can play the games on MAME for free?)

The 'golden firmware' version is v1.50 and the most recent official release of PSP firmware is 3.51.  There are new features added in with each major revision- such as the web browser, RSS reader, flash and WMA support- and Sony also requires updates to firmware to play certain games to ensure that people upgrade and that hackers are kept busy; for example, my copy of Dungeon Maker: Hunting Ground game requires firmware 3.4 or greater to allow the game to start.

When I received my PSP it had v2.51 on it.  There is no 'exploit' for this version, so I had to upgrade to 3.03 to try to take advantage of the 'GTA: Liberty City Stories' game save exploit.  The exploit is executed when GTA: LCS tries to load a mal-formed save game and the system is put into a mode where other code can be run- in this case to replace the firmware with a non-Sony version.  Unfortunately, the GTA: LCS disc must be an original unlatched version of the game- so I was screwed with the purchase I made from GameStop.

Luckily, there is an hew exploit for 3.50 firmware using a Lumines save game exploit.  I updated my PSP to 3.5 and I was finally able to play my Dungeon Maker game- and then I had to try to find a copy of Lumines!  News has traveled and Amazon sales of this game have increased 5800% since release of the exploit info on June 27, 2007.  Ebay prices are $40 - $50 each (for a cheesy 3 year old game that no one really cared about).  after checking for the disc at 3 Game Stops, 2 Best Buys, 2 Wal-Marts, 2 Targets, a Fry's and a Microcenter I had almost given up- but fate would have me passing by a Circuit City where I found a copy (actually 2) in the closeout bin for $13.00!  :o)

There are three versions of the exploit- all appear to do the same thing in different packages, so I went for the one with the most documentation.  The basic steps are:

  1. Upgrade to PSP the official Sony 3.50 firmware
  2. Copy the contents from the 3.50 Downgrader file to the memory stick; basically a Lumines save game and a homebrew copy of 3.5 HEN firmware
  3. Copy a renamed version of the 1.5 firmware to the memory stick
  4. Run Lumines; it will try to load the save game and reboot- enabling 3.50 HEN firmware.
  5. Run the 1.5 Firmware updater
  6. Reboot- clear all settings and format memory stick
  7. Install a custom PSP firmware version (I used 3.40)

One caveat is that with my specific motherboard version (the infamous TA-082 version) I had to applay a specific patch (included in the downgrader file) and I cannot upgrade to an official Sony firmware version until a patch has been made to correct this!

At this point I can run all original games + any homebrew apps I care to try; currently NES, SNES, GBA, N64, Atari 2600, MAME and PSX emulators...

Another awesome program is Xilisoft DVD to PSP ripper; it takes about an hour minutes to rip a DVD (encrypted!) and convert a movie to MP4 format at damn near UMD quality!

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