Our favourite day of the week is once again upon us! Not too long ago I wrote about Mai Shiranui, one of the all-time greats when it comes to video game characters, fighting game characters and women in video games. Today I will be talking about a lady of similar pedigree, if not more, and that is, of course, none other than the world’s strongest woman — and owner of the best legs in video games — Chun-Li.
When you’re done here, don’t forget to look back over the archives for Waifu Wednesday and Hump Day Husbandos here on Rice Digital! For now, though, let’s talk about the mistress of kung-fu, shall we?
Who is Chun-Li?
Chun-Li is one of the most famous and memorable characters in the Street Fighter series, and was the franchise’s first female character when she joined the initial roster of Street Fighter II back in 1991. Starring as a representative of China to fit in with Street Fighter II’s “World Warrior” concept, she is a martial arts master who specialises in kung-fu. After famous series antagonist M. Bison killed her father, she joined Interpol as an officer in order to seek revenge against him.
There are quite a few names in the Street Fighter series that carry a significant amount of weight and are instantly recognisable even to those who don’t really play the games. Chief among these are Ryu, Ken and, of course, Chun-Li. These three characters are unbelievably well known and beloved even to this day; despite arguably not being the strongest characters in Street Fighter V, these three are still some of the most picked.
Chun-Li is immediately memorable, from her unique special attacks to her appearance. She wears a blue Chinese dress (known as a qipao) with golden accents all over it — in the original release of Street Fighter II, where the majority of the cast were either wearing a karate gi or were topless, it’s safe to say Chun-Li stood out. Her signature attacks are her Lightning Kick, an attack where she delivers a blinding number of kicks, and the Spinning Bird Kick, an attack where she spins upside down while traveling forward; this move doesn’t care about physics at all, and we all love it.
Why we love Chun-Li
First up we need to address just how fantastic Chun-Li’s design is, because not only is it extremely distinctive, it also makes sense. I’m a big fan of when they incorporate things significant to the characters’ country or culture into their designs, so Chun-Li wearing her qipao and having the “ox horns” hairstyle is something I really like.
And as crazy as her Spinning Bird Kick is, just look at how insanely muscular Chun-Li’s legs are — if there was going to be a character who could spin upside down while doing the splits, hitting someone, and traveling forward it would definitely be a lady with legs built like Chun-Li’s.
On a more gameplay-based note, Chun-Li plays a similar role to Ryu. Ryu is usually the first character a new Street Fighter player will gravitate towards, as he is easy to learn and helps to teach numerous lessons about the game well. Chun-Li, meanwhile, was one of the first “Charge” characters in the series, so she had her own lessons to teach to new players. Charge characters use special attacks where the player has to hold the control stick in a specific direction for a certain amount of time before the special attack can be used, and Chun-Li is a great character with whom to learn this concept.
Couple that with the fact that when Street Fighter II launched, she was the only attractive woman in the playable cast, and you have a great recipe for a popular and accessible character.
Why you’ll love Chun-Li
Chun-Li is one of the most popular characters in Street Fighter for good reason. When it comes to the story mode and arcade modes of the more recent Street Fighter games you get to learn more about Chun-Li’s personality. Unlike her parallel character, Juri, Chun-Li’s motivations aren’t so much revenge-driven as they are about simply bringing an evil person to justice. This isn’t her only focus either; in Street Fighter V we see Chun-Li become something of an adoptive mother to a young girl.
When it comes to gameplay, Chun-Li offers an extremely satisfying style of play through her ability to control a massive amount of ground with her attacks. She really helps players understand just how important spacing, movement, and ranges are in Street Fighter. And, as we’ve already said, like Ryu, she is a great introduction to what can sometimes feel like a difficult series and genre to get started with.
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