It is the 21st century. The New York police have set up a barricade, anticipating a gang attack. A wave of bikers and armoured vehicles come peeling up, knocking aside parked cars and causing petty destruction. The police open fire, only for a window to roll down, revealing the pinstriped prince of crime: Zoda!
Opening fire on the police with a grenade launcher, the two factions enter a destructive shootout: lampposts, shop fronts, police cars, nothing is spared from their seemingly unstoppable onslaught, and Zoda is enjoying every minute of it.
Zoda reminisces on this fondly as he leads this latest race, far ahead of the competition. Captain Falcon, however, catches up to battle for first place. The two boost forward, soaring their way over a gap in the track...
... only for a new contender to barge in: the Moon Shadow soars right over their heads in midair, knocking the Death Anchor aside on the way down, causing it to spin out while Miss Killer wins her first race! While leaving the stadium's hangar, Captain Falcon keeps a close eye on the newcomer.
Returning to their space station headquarters, Zoda gets on Miss Killer's case for robbing him of his victory. She's quick to snub him: would he have won against Captain Falcon anyway? Black Shadow's the big cheese now, and Zoda's nothing but a dusty old relic. Zoda takes his anger out on her trophy.
Bowing to Black Shadow, the emperor of evil congratulates her on her victory. The Christmas Cup is the next F-Zero race, and keeping with the theme, she hopes the trophy will make a fine present for her leader. Zoda threatens her on the way out, claiming he's got a big Christmas gift of his own planned for her.
After a routine check-up at the cyborg facility, Jody receives a letter containing a memory chip, labelled: "from F." She, Tanaka and Ryu view the data together, and see it contains info on Miss Killer, confirming her affiliation with Dark Million... and given the prize money on the Christmas Cup, there's no way she'll miss it. Ryu is ready to give this race 110% - he won't let his attempted murderer take first place.
The Christmas Cup is taking place on Meteor Stream, a track suspended in space above the earth, boasting an array of shields that protect the track and the audience from any incoming meteorites. A good chunk of the Galaxy Mobile Platoon are taking part, including Lucy, who's keen to show off her skills.
Miss Killer is taking part, as predicted, and she locks eyes with Ryu. Jody sat this race out, citing a bad feeling she's got: Zoda is a regular at prolific races, but he's nowhere to be seen.
Black Shadow's Laugh
She has good reason to be suspicious. In the track's control tower, the guards have been knocked unconscious...
... and the command centre is stormed by Dark Million robots, and Zoda, wearing that goofy disguise again: he asks them to start the race. The lights turn green, and the racers fly out of the starting grid.
Making their way through a magnetic tunnel, Jack suggests to Ryu the two of them should see if they can score first and second place together. The Blue Falcon soaring between them puts a damper on that plan, though it's only early days. The racers exit the tunnels...
... and approach a choice of two paths. The Dragon Bird and Blue Falcon are locked grinding against each other, so Jack chooses the rightmost path, triggering multiple speed boost pads. The Moon Shadow quickly approaches from behind and slams him, sending him into a spinout as Miss Killer takes the lead.
The paths reunite, and Captain Falcon, Ryu Suzaku and Miss Killer are all tied for first. Zoda is watching and finally enacts his plan: he disables the shields surrounding the course, allowing meteorites to begin striking the track!
The three leading racers can only watch as meteors tear through the road, leaving massive holes and craters. They dodge them effortlessly, even evading some close shaves, but other racers are not so lucky: Lucy is jostled by impacts and EAD's Great Star is left teetering over a crevice.
Clash is quick to investigate: this is no technical error, the shields have been intentionally disabled! He tries to send a message of warning to the F-Zero committee, but contact with them has been locked off.
Zoda, revelling in the chaos, speaks to Miss Killer personally: how does she like his Christmas present? One of the robots squeaks in fear, and he turns around...
... to find Black Shadow looming over him! Just when he tries to explain his actions, Jody and Dr. Stewart burst in, brandishing pistols. They open fire on Black Shadow, but the laser fire merely passes through him: this is just a hologram! It laughs as it fizzles away, though Zoda and his robots leg it out of there nonetheless. Before they can pursue, the two receive a message from Clash - there's something new on the race track!
The Black Bull has made a sudden appearance! It ploughs through friend and foe alike, though Lucy is lucky enough to avoid it. Jack is amused that this newcomer thinks he's got a chance against him, but Jody calls in warning him that this is no mere F-Zero racer: that is the Black Shadow's personal machine!
Cackling, Black Shadow shoves the Astro Robin aside like it were nothing and continues onward, slowly approaching the three leading racers.
The command crew are retrieved to help reactivate the shield system, though the rain of meteors is getting heavier, and it's too late to avoid major damage.
A meteor comes soaring down towards the track ahead of Ryu, Falcon and Miss Killer. The Blue Falcon and Dragon Bird brake hard to get out of its range, but the Moon Shadow spins out of control towards it. The Black Bull comes roaring from behind, shoving her aside...
... and taking the full force of the meteorite, exploding in a flaming, tumbling wreck.
Zoda is shocked at first glance, falling to his knees in fear... but within seconds, he begins laughing. That jackass was asking for it! With him out of the way, Zoda is free to take his place and rule Dark Million himself! He and his robots leave on their battle station...
... while Miss Killer cries out in anguish. Her master has perished! A familiar cackle comes from her transmitter, and another Black Bull appears, rumbling past the duplicate's wreck. She thanks her master for saving her using that decoy, but Captain Falcon isn't taking this sitting down: he's got to catch him!
The shields reinstated, it's safe for Ryu to stop and check on the flaming wreckage of one of the Black Bulls. He sees movement from behind the smoke...
A skinless android in Black Shadow's visage comes stomping out of the wreckage, making its way towards Ryu's machine. Before it can reach him, it begins sparking and falls to its knees, its chassis smoking and falling apart before his eyes.
A blare rings out over the course: due to severe damage, today's race has been cancelled, and whoever is currently in the lead is declared the winner. And the leading racer is... the Elegance Liberty!
The crowd burst into applause; this is Lucy's first ever victory! Clash rushes to the track and lifts her in his arms, overjoyed for his young apprentice.
... Black Shadow... lives?
Returning to their base in deep space, Zoda marches in the very image of confidence, boasting his new position as leader and demanding he brought the biggest bowl of celebratory ice cream they can find...
... only to find Black Shadow sitting in his throne, as usual, with Miss Killer by his side. Zoda quickly bows, claiming he was ever so worried for his master's wellbeing. They mockingly thank him for the surprise he prepared at the race, and they must thank him for it. They tear the pipe from his head, his screams heard even from the darkest corners of space...
Lucy is invited to Falcon House for a special celebration party in her honour; Burt and Clank have even made a giant cake just for her, though Clank argues it was more luck than skill that got her the win. Regardless, this is a special day for Lucy, and one Ryu and Jack are happy to applaud her for. Congratulations Lucy... and Merry Christmas!
Burt's F-Zero Classroom: A Christmas tree sits at the corner throughout this segment. Burt isn't one to make uncouth comments about people, but he tells the audience that Black Shadow is one bad egg, the very imbodiment of cruelty and evil. He expresses puzzlement at what Black Shadow's always laughing about, and whether or not the horns are decoration or part of his anatomy.
4Kids broadcast: This was renamed Double Jeopardy and shuffled back to be episode 10.
More gun colouring shenanigans. In 2051, Zoda and the police officer's weapons are blue, while the criminals use green. For the rest of the episode, Zoda and Jody's are red while Stewart's is yellow. Cute.
The Christmas Cup was renamed the Crystal Cup, and all mentions to Christmas are dropped.
More choppily-animated bubbles are added to cover up Jody's nudity.
Captain Falcon's data chip is emblazoned with a falcon insignia. The Moon Shadow image is replaced with a render of its CG model.
The Black Bull's CGI model is overlayed atop all cel-animation of its crash and wreckage in a mightily choppy manner. As such, the Black Shadow android ends up phasing out of it the Black Bull's hull, since there's no visible fire for it to appear from.
The sign and decorations for Lucy's party are altered to remove any reference to Christmas (even using an exterior shot of Falcon House from a different episode so there's no Christmas tree!), and all scenes with Clank are omitted since he hadn't even been introduced yet! As such, they had to edit the last shot to remove him from Burt's side.
You probably gathered this episode was broadcast near Christmas! It aired on December 23rd 2003, and there was a week's break between this and episode 13.
The Meteor Stream course is lifted straight from F-Zero AX, featuring the very same flourescent magnetic tunnels and the branching paths towards the end.
For a single frame around 9:46, all 3D elements disappear and leave only the backdrop just before the next cut. It even sneaks into the 4Kids version!