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Wednesday
Nov122008

Street Fighter HD Remix: Chun Li

Chun Li is notable in Super Street Fighter 2 Turbo (ST) for how few bad matches she has. She doesn’t really dominate her opponents, but she doesn’t get dominated either. Old Sagat is usually seen as her hardest match, but expert Chun Lis learned how to get by even in that match. The lack of bad matches is why Chun Li is usually ranked near the top of the 2nd tier, or even in the top tier by a few players.

Early in development, many players considered Chun Li the benchmark character and hoped that other characters could be as well-rounded and solid as her. The first version of HD Remix Chun Li had exactly one change, which was the complete change-list suggested by US Chun Li player NKI:

  • Remove d/f + medium kick backflip move.

That move has no useful purpose and usually just gets you killed. Sure it could be improved, but the natural improvement would be make it travel farther away, which would just make her better at running away. By removing it, Chun Li players can now do low forward at will without worrying about this move coming out.

Players Wanted More

My one-change Chun Li did not go over very well. All these other characters got interesting toys, why does Chun Li get nothing, players said. Also, Chun Li has some kind of mindless abuseable stuff, why should she keep that if other characters don’t? Couldn't we give her an interesting new tool while taking out some of her mindless stuff? Good points.

Lighting Legs

The next change was to make her lightning legs easier to do, in an effort to make all mashing-moves easier to do. Low forward -> lighting Legs, for example, is very easy now and stand fierce -> lighting legs is practical. This made her stand fierce so deadly that I really had to reduce the damage and dizzy from the lighting legs. The priority of the lighting legs (the best priority move in the entire game that is not invulnerable) is also barely, barely worse so that maybe Balrog or Bison could hit her during that move (though not very reliably). That said, if you whiff a dragon punch or something, she can now punish with stand fierce -> lighting legs, even if you do not have super powers.

Spinning Bird Kick

Players clearly wanted something new for her. Remember that my original mission was to make the game more accessible, improve tournament balance, and to add fun wherever it wouldn't ruin tournament balance. I tried to give her something new that would be kind of interesting, but not actually help that much because she’s already so good. That’s where the new spinning bird kick came in. It now has a parabolic arc, similar to Sakura’s spinning kick in Street Fighter Alpha 2 and 3, except higher. It juggles, does fairly good dizzy, and can go over fireballs if timed right, but it was mostly a trickshot move. Let’s come back to it in a bit.

Stored Super

In ST, Chun Li can “store” her super by doing charge back, forward, back, then hold forward as long as she wants….then press punch to super. Whether she should keep this was very controversial throughout development. On the one hand, it’s pretty mindless when you can walk at the opponent and mash on strong to get a good priority strong punch, or a throw if they are throwable….while simultaneously threatening to super them with just a single button press on kick. The super has an almost-always guaranteed followup of up kicks. Super + up kicks does 80% damage. Yes, you read that right--80%. Something has to give here, especially with the overall goal of brining supers down to 50% or less. But on the other hand, stored super is fun and everyone seems to want it.

My proposal was to slightly reduce the damage so that it’s similar damage to other supers in HD Remix, to add invulnerability at the start so it can go through fireballs more easily, and to remove the storing property. If I made the game for myself, this would have been my decision. But players seemed generally unhappy and disappointed with this. The final version lets her keep her stored super, does not add any invulnerability over what she had in ST, but greatly reduces the damage of the super and limits up kicks to just 1-hit. (The up kicks seem to miss entirely on some characters, too.) In practice, her super ends up doing about half the 80% from ST, but all the storing tricks are left intact.

When I explained the debate to former Evolution champion Tokido, from Japan, he responded, “I understand the balance idea here, but I think if you remove stored super…Japanese players will not like. I think you should leave it, but reduce damage, as you did.” Thanks Tokido!

Neckbreaker Loop

Chun Li players are probably pretty sad at this point. There’s more bad news, then some good news. Many players complained that her neckbreaker kick (d/f + roundhouse) should be on the list of abuseable, repeatable moves. This is the move where Chun Li flips up (over fireballs if she wants) then comes down with an attack that knocks down. If she does it again as the victim stands up, it can be a cross-up versus several characters. It’s basically impossible to tell whether you should block left or right if you are one of these unlucky characters, and Chun Li can alter her spacing by a few pixels to kind of trap you in this repeated knockdown thing. She really does not need this to win, so many players requested that this be removed. It’s an incredibly long story what went on with this move in development, so I’ll just cut to the end. It now travels slightly less distance forward which means it can never cross-up. It’s still useful to go over fireballs and to pressure stand strong / throw afterwards, if the opponent blocks. It still knocks down on hit.

Spinning Bird Kick, Revisited

And now for some better news. After the decision to let Chun Li keep her stored super but greatly reduce her damage, I thought she needed an upgrade to stay competitive. That’s when I greatly improved the new arcing spinning bird kick. It travels much faster and has much less recover than it did in the earlier versions. You can try to cross-up with it. You can go over fireballs with it and safely attack with it from the right range. If the opponent is far away and tries to sweep as you land, it’s extremely hard for them to hit you. Even if you do get hit, you cannot be combo’d because you flip up if you get hit (you get hit out of the air). If you try the move from too close, it’s very easy for the opponent to stop it because Chun Li is completely vulnerable underneath, but if you do it from the right range, it’s a pretty solid attack.

Several players also requested that she be able to do her aerial spinning bird kick after her pogo attack, like in SF2: Hyper Fighting. They weren’t asking for any practical reason, they just had fun doing that back then, and so did I. So the aerial version can now be done with a flash kick motion as well as a sonic boom motion while in the air.

It turns out that this does have some interesting uses. If you are on the ground and charge down, the go up, then hesistate a moment, then press kick, you can do the aerial version (which travels horizontally, not in an arc) very low to the ground. You can even choose whether to do this move toward the opponent, mostly in place, or away from the opponent depending on which way you jumped. I’ve been able to use this move in many tricky situations to go over sweeps, to escape attacks, bait dragon punches, and so on.

I saw a few requests to change the command for her pogo move from down+medium kick while in the air to any of the three down positions. I made change this and loved it because it made doing the pogo (and then aerial Spinning Bird Kick!) much easier. All the actual Chun Li players booed and sent me nasty letters though. They need her aerial down/back + medium kick to be her crossup attack still, they said. So be it.

I should have made a secret Chun Li just for me, huh? (Mine would have had no stored super, higher damage super, more invulnerable super, and pogo can be down with any of the three down positions of the joystick). Chun Li is a case where I was very conscious of feedback from actual Chun Li players, rather than my own whims, so I hope that turns out well for everyone.

Conclusion

The bad:

  • Lighting Legs less damage and dizzy
  • Super less damage
  • Neckbreaker no longer crosses up

The good:

  • Lighting Legs easier to do
  • New arcing Spinning Bird Kick is fairly useful
  • New motion or aerial Spinning Bird Kick leads to some tricks

Chun Li’s fireballs, awesome normal attacks, and damaging throw are just as good as ever. She even got to keep her stored super. With some of her mindlessness decreased and some new tricks added, I hope she’ll remain competitive while being even a little more interesting than before.

--Sirlin