The Swingshot is used to latch onto floating orbs known as versa-targets, and allow Ratchet to latch onto them. Three types of versa-targets exist: swinging targets, grappling targets, and winch targets (which featured only in Going Commando). Versa-targets are placed on both moving and non-moving targets. From Tools of Destruction onwards, the Swingshot is automatically equipped when Ratchet presses while aiming at a versa-target, a feature of the Hypershot.
Swinging versa-targets are the most common of these, which allow Ratchet to grapple to the target and swing around, letting go as he pleases to jump forward to the next platform, or the next versa-target. In Ratchet & Clank these are represented by yellow targets with thin yellow beams between them, though in every other appearance up until Full Frontal Assault they are represented by stationary green targets. In Full Frontal Assault and Into the Nexus, they are represented by circles, which open when Ratchet nears to reveal a long, yellowish line with a beacon on top.
Grappling targets allow Ratchet to pull himself towards the target by holding down . They are often used to move towards platforms, though in rare cases, Ratchet holds onto a moving grapple target to be taken to another area. These are represented by spinning green targets from Ratchet & Clank to Deadlocked, though they are represented instead by spinning targets with blue lights from Tools of Destruction onwards, and have another new appearance from All 4 One onwards.
Winch targets are featured only in Going Commando, and allow Ratchet to pull a target towards him, often pulling down a drawbridge. These are represented by blue and black targets.
Ratchet & Clank
The Swingshot makes its debut appearance as a gadget obtained from Helga von Streissenburgen after completing Qwark's obstacle course on Kerwan. As Ratchet and Clank had in her eyes "disgraced" her obstacle course, she charges them 1,000 bolts to purchase it. The Swingshot is then used in many cases onwards. When equipped, pressing allows it to latch onto versa-targets. It has two versa-targets: yellow swinging targets and green grappling targets.
The Swingshot returns, and is found in Clank's apartment on planet Endako by Ratchet. It is used several times throughout the game, though it has an additional use: winch targets, which allow Ratchet to pull down drawbridges or pull floating platforms towards him to progress. Versa-targets are all green, with the exception of winch targets which are blue.
Tools of Destruction to A Crack in Time
The Swingshot features with an entirely new appearance in Tools of Destruction onwards, using a green laser grappling hook more similar to the Hypershot than the original Swingshot. It also allows Ratchet to use the gadget without manually equipping it by holding when approaching a versa-target. Versa-targets look slightly different, with swinging targets being green and grapple targets blue. In all titles, the Swingshot is immediately available.
All 4 One
The Swingshot returns, with a new feature: Hookshot. This allows the user to pull themselves towards another team member to latch onto them and traverse gaps. It is used by Ratchet, Clank, Qwark and Nefarious, and is initially available. The Hookshot can be used with to attach to a teammate, allowing up to four players to be attached to a single versa-target.
Full Frontal Assault
The Swingshot returns with identical functionality, though it must be obtained from the weapon pod with a Swingshot icon instead of normal ammo on the map. Swinging targets here are represented by circles with yellowish beams on top.
Into the Nexus
The Swingshot returns again with the same functionality last featured in A Crack in Time, though it uses versa-targets with the appearance of those in Full Frontal Assault.
Behind the scenes
In early footage of Up Your Arsenal, the Swingshot is seen used on planet Daxx rather than the Hypershot, and the Dynamo is used separately, suggesting that both were going to feature separately until they were combined into the Hypershot.
In the 2016 reboot, the Swingshot featured again, using its Tools of Destruction design, and is initially owned by Ratchet.