The crowd anticipates the final...

Mario Kart 7 is out now around the world, and to celebrate the release of Mario's latest racing outing Nintendo UK shelled out on a launch party at London's Sports Café this past Wednesday. Nintendo Life editor James Newton was there.

The café's interior was decked out in Mario Kart livery, with stacked tyres and plenty of 3DS systems set up to demonstrate the latest MK outing. Attendees were divided into categories — press, developers, PR and so on — with special corresponding lanyards: ours was the golden mushroom, an early portent of our spectacular speed.

To qualify for the semi finals, we had to register our fastest time on three laps of Cheep Cheep Cape in the time trial mode. After a few practice rounds we set a fairly respectable 1:56:249 time, putting us near the top of our group, though one early competitor managed a spectacular 1:52:530. Spurred on, we set another time of 1:55:350, enough to secure us a spot in the semi final.

A photo made in heaven

After an hour of psyching ourselves up we were beckoned to the stage by Formula 1 commentator David Croft for our semi-final. We were assigned a character — unfortunately ours was Toad — we took on seven other competitors at Wuhu Mountain Loop. By this point our opponents' engines were fairly well oiled, let's say, and we had no problems racing into an early lead, maintaining our advantage until the final section where we foolishly misjudged our landing and found ourselves overtaken at the last. Still, a second place finish was enough to get us through to the grand final.

The following three semifinals saw several Nintendo staff ousted from the competition by the best and brightest from the industry, setting up a final eight for Mario Kart supremacy.

Among the competitors in the final was Ubisoft double-whammy Wayne Greenwell and Nate Fury and Yoshi-loving husband and wife team Thomas and Mairéad Ralph. With a cameraman in close attendance to capture all the action — plus Official Nintendo Magazine's Nintendo TV crew filming the whole event in 3D — the pressure on our man was mounting.

The final took place on Toad Circuit, and with the eyes of the crowd — including famous faces Alexandra Burke, Lemar, Jack Whitehall and more — on the competitors, it was our editor James Newton who once again made a quick start for an early lead, dropping banana peels to scupper our opponents.

Slowly our lead was chipped away: a spiny shell here, a red shell there, but approaching the final bend we were still in front and heading towards a glorious victory over our industry peers. That's when our earlier eagerness to drop banana skins came back to haunt us: on the final bend we ran into one of our own mushy mines, providing Ubisoft's Nate Fury with a small enough window to squeeze past and race to the finish line, denying us first place right at the chequered flag.

We were still able to step onto the podium with our head held high, proudly receiving our medal — made from real metal, by the way — and taking our applause from the crowd.

With our medal around our neck and the cheers ringing in our ears we made our exit — after rubbing our achievement in the face of the defeated, of course — safe in the knowledge that our editor is the second-best Mario Kart player in the UK video games industry.