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What is the purpose of switch weapons? I notice that when she's running around she'll have a sword or guns, but haven't seen her attack with the sword when it looks like it is equipped. Could someone explain this mechanic?

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This is referenced elsewhere but not called out explicitly: you can organize the weapons Bayonetta uses with her hands and feet into two pairs, between which "switch weapons" will switch. The weapon select menu is kind of messy so it's possible to miss this. Certain weapons can only be used with one of the two appendages (eg: Odette), and certain weapons can only be used on the feet once an upgrade has been purchased. Being able to quickly switch between weapons isn't always useful but it has at least two benefits:

  1. Certain weapons have contextual drawbacks. For example, equipping the Odette increases your motion speed, but it also introduces a delay in your motions, which prevents you from stopping or turning quickly. This is fine in large open spaces, but not so useful when platforming or jumping. Being able to switch between the Odette and, say, the Onyx Roses would be very helpful.

  2. switching weapons mid-combo can result in even awesomer combos.

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thanks, i hadnt gotten any of the new weapons yet so thats where my confusion was. i saw that switching to kilgore for a PPP-K during the - will create a pretty amazing combo – mfg Aug 16 '10 at 3:41
yeah, and even after playing quite a bit of the game I found out that I had missed a bunch of weapons so if you're interested in getting some of the unique ones on the first pass - make sure to look them up! – dls Aug 16 '10 at 22:37
yeah, still planning on hitting it up on hard mode, or easy, just to play it; gotta love the playability of hack 'n slashers – mfg Aug 17 '10 at 15:51

Switching weapons should make it so you're attacking with those weapons. For example, if you have the Flaming Durgas or the Kulshedra, when you switch to those weapons, you should then be attacking with those instead of the guns. It can sometimes be advantageous to switch weapons during combat in order to increase your combo. If you're hitting L2 twice really quickly, then you might possibly be switching to the alternate weapon then switching back to the guns before you're able to use the alternate weapon, which might explain why you haven't seen her attack with it.

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