There is a new form of combat in No More Heroes 3 compared to the first two games, and it can lead to a lot of confusion if you were expecting differently. One change to the fighting of the game is Tension, and the game introduces it without ever fully explaining what it does. However, we've got you covered!
Starting off, we'll explain exactly how to gather Tension so you can use it to your advantage. Put most simply, tension goes up when you land successful hits, especially combo attacks. If you miss attacks, your Tension deplete. In the bottom right corner of the screen, you'll see a pixelated icon. At first, this starts off as a small yellow cat icon. As your Tension increases during battle (when you land successful attacks), this will transform to a red tiger icon (shown in the image on the bottom right).
When your Tension level is at its max, it can alter the tide of battle. Your combo attacks will last longer and deal additional damage, which makes it easier to take down some of the hard-hitting enemies in between their attacks. Mastering Tension can be difficult, but the most important thing you need to remember is to focus on landing your attacks. In the beginning of battle, they may not do a lot of damage. Still, this is the best time to be patient and calculated with your attacks so you can create a snowball effect with your damage dealt.
That covers all you need to know about what Tension does! If you're looking for a summary, think of it like this: Hit more and miss less to make your Tension go up. Higher tension means your hits deal more damage, your attacks change, and your combos last longer.