Chun-Li was the first woman to break into the boys' club of fighting games, and boy did she! With her deadly arsenal of rapid fire ground kicks, helicopter-style aerial kicks, projectile attacks, and overall speed, Chun-Li hammers home the point that she is no shrinking violet and certainly not a simpering weenie chick in need of a man's protection. She is also not a fanservicey sex object. Her outfit offers her full body coverage while allowing free movement of her legs to fight effectively. In addition to all of that, Chun-Li also has a surprisingly involved backstory for a fighting game: she is an Interpol agent investigating criminal activity at the fighting tournament. Thus, her intelligence is as formidable as her physical prowess.
Chun-Li is an admirable icon for the Street Fighter franchise, and fighting games in general, for all the right reasons. And any Street Fighter fan can tell you that a skilled Chun-Li player is a daunting opponent.
Samus is in many ways the first woman of gaming, even though her gender was initially a secret. Indeed, the manual for the original Metroid even referred to Samus as a male. It was only when completing the game quickly enough – or utilizing the infamous "JUSTIN BAILEY" password – that we learned this ass-kicking bounty hunter was a woman. Imagine! Truly powerful and take-charge females are still not as prominent today as one would expect, but there was no such thing in video games in 1986. While Princess Toadstool (before her wise decision to change her name to Peach) was busy waiting in another castle for Mario and Luigi to save her, Samus was saving the galaxy from untold dangers.
This is the Samus we knew from 1986 until August of 2010: A take-no-prisoners, solitary bounty hunter with a strong resolve, augmented by the Power Suit created by the alien Chozo that raised her. Then Metroid: Other M happened, which gave Samus a voice, and gave us a real insight to her as a person, something that many gamers were not fond of, to put it lightly.
I take a different stance on this, and not just to be controversial about it: Yes, Other M presents a softer, and yes, weaker side of Samus we never saw before. But where others see these flaws as something that hurts Samus as a character, I see them as traits that make her much more human than we might have imagined before.
It may have been an uncomfortable revelation, but suddenly Samus was no longer one-dimensional. Much like Lenneth, learning that Samus has flaws – I would say 'depth' – doesn't detract from her character: On the contrary, it means she's now more relatable as a real person, actual and whole, and despite child trauma and pesky emotions, manages to once again do the impossible. And that makes her mighty.
When it comes to admirable female protagonists, Jade has it all. She's strong, intelligent, independent, compassionate, driven, resourceful, inquisitive, and attractive. The variety of gameplay modes play up the arsenal of Jade's skills in fighting, driving, photography, problem solving, and espionage. In the story, she is a caretaker at an orphanage who the children admire. She hustles admirably for photography gigs so she can help care for the orphans, often sacrificing her needs and desires for theirs. Were I a girl at this orphanage, I would greatly look up to Jade and want to be just like her when I grew up. But what really makes Jade shine is that any other heroine with so many positive traits would fall into every Mary Sue trap out there, but Jade doesn't. It takes a skilled writer to pull that off, so kudos to Beyond Good and Evil's writers for allowing Jade to deftly walk that tightrope and come across as very believable.