Chun-Li is probably my very first video game crush. True, my love for Princess Peach originated earlier, with Super Mario Bros. 2, but I didn’t exactly think of her as a crush. I just liked playing as her. With Chun-Li, though, I was smitten.
Like many, many kids in the early 90s, I was obsessed with Street Fighter II. I only made it to arcades occasionally, but when the game was released for the SNES in 1992, I was all over it. Even though each character’s story is fairly shallow and consists of a small batch of dialogue and a few short scenes, I played and replayed each character just to have a reason to play the game. Chun-Li and Guile were my favorites, though, so I felt the need to beat their story campaigns on the hardest difficulty (having said that: fuck Bison and Sagat on the hardest difficulty. So cheap. I hate them and I want them dead.).
Chun-Li’s story is a basic revenge plot, where she is hunting down M. Bison, who killed her father, but I loved that she had her own journey and wasn’t tied to other fighters. Even as a kid I remember that making her unique, even if I had no clue about the significance of her being the first playable female character in a fighting game. I just knew that she was strong, she was fast, she was (in my opinion) the best fighter, she was absolutely beautiful, and she showed that she wasn’t afraid of expressing both extreme focus and youthful jubilation (“Yatta!”). And how can I leave out her trademark blue qipao? The combination of the elegant silk dress and hair ribbons with her seriously spiked bracelets and hardcore combat boots perfectly represent her personality and spirit.
I haven’t played every single iteration of Street Fighter that’s come out, but I’ve played most of them. Chun-Li remains my favorite character. She’s always very fast and her long legs allow her a nice reach, and I love using her wall jump to get out of being cornered. The story of Street Fighter seems complicated and a little ridiculous to me at this point, so I’ve lost track of the twists and turns of Chun-Li’s backstory, but she remains a fierce and beautiful warrior, dedicated to justice. For that reason she will probably always be my main.
(Note: featured image source – https://www.deviantart.com/semsei/art/130912-Chun-li-sketch-399787109)