The new PlayStation Vita utilizes a new media format known as the PS Vita Card. These small flash memory cartridges store game data and allow you to load games much like a Nintendo DS cartridge or similar media.
However, the change in format has left many people wondering about the backwards compatibility of the PS Vita with previously purchased games for the PlayStation Portable. Fortunately, Sony has offered a variety of features on the PS Vita that allow you to enjoy older games and content on the new device.
PlayStation Network Support
By registering your PS Vita with your PlayStation Network account, you can download any PSOne Classics, PS Minis and most PSP downloads that you previously purchased. PSP downloads are being added as games are tested for full compatibility. These should install and run flawlessly on the new PS Vita. Icons will be created in the LiveArea interface that allow you to launch these games with the tap of your screen.
Backwards Compatibility for Universal Media Discs
With the switch to PS Vita Cards, a UMD reading drive was not included with the PS Vita. At this time, no known plans have been made to release an external UMD reader for the PS Vita. However, there is still a way to enjoy your games on the new PS Vita as long as you have access to an original PlayStation Portable that is linked to your PlayStation Network account.
By using the UMD Passport program, you can register games that you own on UMD using your PSP. This allows you to buy downloadable versions of supported games at a reduced price from the PlayStation Vita Store. The process is quick and easy. Simply download the UMD Passport app on your PSP, launch the app, insert any UMD games that you wish to play on your PS Vita and follow the on-screen prompts. After you have completed the process on your PSP, launch the PlayStation Vita Store and check for your discounts in the PSP downloads section.
Graphics for PSP Downloads
A few small features are accessible for PSP downloads that allow you to optimize the graphics for PS Vita display. With the substantial increase in both resolution and screen size from the PSP to the PS Vita, there are noticeable jagged edges and inconsistencies in the display of many PSP games.
However, these are just a result of stretching the image to fit the new display and do not interfere with playing the games in any way.