Sometime around 2014, the PSP’s Metal Gear Solid entry Portable Ops was quietly de-listed as backwards compatibile on the handheld’s successor, the Vita. Though not directed by Hideo Kojima himself, the game was intended to be a direct sequel to MGS3, chronicling what happened to Snake after inheriting the title of Big Boss after the events of Snake Eater. Narratively, it was important.
At least until Kojima himself decided to direct Peace Walker in 2010, also for the PSP, which left Portable Ops in the dust. Even after the Metal Gear Solid Collection ported Peace Walker to the PS3, fans that hadn’t played Portable Ops in 2006 out of luck if they didn’t own a now very outdated PSP. It was until very recently the only major part of the series canon that was not readily accessible.
They got a second chance, sort of, with the release of the PSTV, Sony’s woefully underutilized Vita-styled set top box which could be used to play some older games. Sony announced a US release for the mini-console in summer 2014; inexplicably they had all but abandoned it by the following summer, with the vast majority of games compatible at launch no longer working. For whatever reason, Portable Ops got the axe again.
That’s changed as of last week, when Konami’s Robert Peeler, the community manager for Metal Gear Solid, announced on Twitter he had made it a personal crusade to get Portable Ops and its standalone expansion Portable Ops +, which features MGS4’s Old Snake, working again on both consoles.
As of this writing, it sounds like they’re now playable on both systems. I was able to the test Vita myself (it works!) and tweets from players to Peeler’s account indicates it’s working on PSTV as well. Given this change, it’s now well worth picking up a PSTV – which Sony has essentially left for dead – to play this MGS installment on a proper screen.
Either way, you’ll want to tweak the control configuration slightly, because the PSP only had one analog stick, making controls a pain on the original hardware. To get the standard left stick movement, right stick camera setup, all you have to do is hold down the PS button in-game and go to the PSP settings (should be listed as “Portable Ops” settings at the top of the screen), switch the right analog stick to the d-pad. The game defaults on proper control configuration, so you’re good to go.
Given Konami’s behavior towards Metal Gear Solid over the past couple years, which is pretty hard not to see as disinterest, if not outright disdain, Portable Ops regaining its former backwards compatibility feels nothing short of miraculous. Hats off to everyone who cared enough to make it possible.