Rollercoaster Ranking – B&M Inverted Coasters
I feel like I’ve grown up on Inverts, with England being home to both of the Nemeses. It’s hard to believe some of them have been around for almost 30 years now, the same as me. These coasters really cemented themselves as a staple ride throughout the 1990s, particularly with the rise of the original and highly clone-able Batman layout. Orders slowed down in the new millennium and only 2 have been built in the last decade. With either every major park already having one or the prolific Vekoma SLC offering a deceivingly similar foot dangling experience to anyone else with a lower budget, there just isn’t a demand right now, other than the highly ambitious curveball that Gröna Lund are trying to squeeze in next year.
These were in the early days one of my absolute favourite ride types because of the always above average experiences they provided. Over time though they have started to fade on me a bit as my tastes have grown and changed. Intensity is their main strength and that definitely has its place in the market and in my life, it’s just that I simply like a wider range of sensations from my coasters these days and this isn’t something the current style of Inverts tend to offer. There’s still a lot of fun to be had on one of course, but without a drastic change of approach I don’t think there will be anything like this cracking the top 25 for a good while yet. 100? Easy.
I’m over halfway through the collection now and it’s amazing that nearly all of them are still going strong, some even being shipped halfway across the world to avoid the hardware going to waste. Missing out on Dragon Challenge at Islands of Adventure was a bit of a personal blow but I like to think that there’s a worthy replacement in its place now. You just can’t catch ’em all. Here’s how they stack up so far:
The newest build that I’ve ridden is surprisingly my least favourite. Ozlris generally seems to be rather well received and for a long time I was looking forward to riding this one that’s so tantalisingly close to home but we just didn’t seem to get on with each other. Right out of the starting block it punched me in the ear on the first drop, something I wouldn’t usually associate with a ride type of this calibre. Aside from that it just didn’t flow the same as these usually do. The entrance and exit from certain elements was awkward and I struggled to find any standout moments or to an extent anything particularly redeeming about the experience.
I am going to have separate listings for Batman clones here because even though they are the same layout, I’ve had some vastly different experiences with the model. This does also go to show how tightly packed most of this ranking list is, with very little separating a lot of rides and also, to an extent, how generic and formulaic certain designs turned out to be as I tried more and more of them.
Diavlo was the worst of these clones. Even the distracting views couldn’t disguise the fact that this ride doesn’t get a lot of attention out here. It was running very cold, almost entirely empty and just never got the chance to get going. Add on the fact that the layout wasn’t anything new to us and the result was a very run of the mill coaster.
If there’s one word I wouldn’t ever think I’d be using to describe an Invert, it’s ‘weak’. Silver Bullet was just that though and it’s a real shame as I wanted to like it a lot more. I really like the styling of the whippy sideways banked turn between loop and cobra as well as the overall look of the hardware but that shallow first drop… just doesn’t get the momentum going enough for the relentless ride I have come to expect from these. Back row, outside seat at night wasn’t enough to sell this one to me so I honestly don’t know what would.
While I’d rather ride Silver Bullet over the worst Batman in the world, I’d still rather ride any other Batman just to feel that insane wave of positive Gs that encompasses the first few tightly packed elements of the layout. The one at Great Adventure was my least favourite of these that still kicked my ass, mainly because it just looked a right state, like most of the park.
We used a Flash Pass on Georgia’s so it was slightly less of a chore and it looks a bit better. Otherwise I literally couldn’t separate them. How many consecutive vertical loops can we get with these photos?
I’d say this was running the closest to how I remembered my first Batman, but it definitely wasn’t to the same level of intensity that I almost couldn’t handle in the past. From here on out I’d rather ride any other layout just for the sake of it not being a Batman clone, unless it’s the standout best version of one.
Bad weather dictated that we never really had the chance to get properly acquainted with this one, a single lap after 5 hours in a Starbucks waiting for the rain to subside is not a good ratio. What this lap did demonstrate is that Phaethon lacked a little on the aggression front, with most of the inversions leaning towards graceful rather than intense. Good though.
Aww, the streak ends. This legend was my last real hope for a B&M Invert to enter the big leagues for me and after many years of anticipation it ended up as a massive disappointment. The problem with riding it rather late in the game is that this layout only really highlighted how ’99 verses the same’ many of these rides are, putting the same elements in more or less the same order with a different corner here and there. On top of that, while inherently forceful it didn’t excel at any particular sensation against anything else in this list, so that left Katun condemned to middle of the road territory.
Another legend, another let down. Never meet your heroes. While I adored both the theming details and the unique aspects of the layout on Alpengeist, it rode rather poorly in the first half and then completely ran out of steam after the mid course brake run. By the time it hit the final brakes the train was moving at a walking pace. Bonus points for comedy.
On the contrary, I think Great Bear may have been helped along by not being such a standout name in the coaster world. I had zero expectations and came off happy enough with the experience. Bonus points for that weird high up helix at the start.
It would be satisfying for me to know that an above average B&M Invert lives just up the road, if I ever bothered to visit the place any more. On the rare occasion that I do now, this is my favourite coaster in the park and only seems to get better with age. The pre-lift tunnel adds character and both the start and ending sequences are particularly intense, with no real loss of pace in between.
Finally we enter what I’ll call the snappy territory. A particular trait of this ride type that I’ve grown to love is when the train negotiates an inversion with a particular vigour and ferocity. While many examples have this smooth, refined and calculated sensation from start to finish, leaving you time to appreciate the sky below your feet, on others there’s one big ‘WHOA, what the hell was that?’ moment halfway through an element as it whips you round with a completely out of control feeling. I’m starting to think it’s an old school thing.
Flight Deck’s corkscrew has this by the bucket load along with a satisfyingly unique layout including an intense upwards helix unusually early on.
Afterburn does this too, as well as being overall bigger and badder, though it’s equally as soulless with the poorly executed plane theme. The rarely seen Batwing is a nice touch and this ride made me excited for Montu again, so there may still be hope.
The best of the Batmen by far. Enter the foot ripping factor. This ride was almost more than I could handle. The positive forces that sustain throughout the entire second loop and subsequent turn affected me more than anything else in this list. It went beyond tingling or pins and needles, it downright felt like my legs were going to fall off and caused me to instinctively shout, flail and punch them as we went. Of course as you’ve seen above I’ve never experienced that sensation to the same degree since and though there is the slight worry that it’s me and not the ride, I’m not usually wrong about that sort of thing.
Probably most famously known as Raptor at Cedar Point, this ex-Japanese coaster isn’t much of a looker these days but it’s ridiculously intense to make up for it. The lack of mid course brake run means that it flies through the second half and by the time everyone’s screaming through the last helix it’s almost too much to handle. Both the cobra and the corkscrews have that lovely violent snap once again. The weird straight sections while it tries to sort itself out have a certain charm too.
The almost Nemesis beater for that sheer immersion factor, how can you hide such a huge piece of hardware so seamlessly? Black Mamba doesn’t quite have the layout to win out though and I still don’t know what the layout is to be honest, it just keeps inverting, diving and turning through an endless sea of tunnels packed full of more intense helices than anything else in this list. My fondness for this ride increased even further when we rode it at midnight during the middle of a fireworks celebration. A proper masterpiece.
I feel a compelling sense of loyalty to this ride even though I often say it doesn’t excite me any more – that’s the sad thing about home parks you don’t love. There’s still something very satisfying about this layout, the way it builds momentum out of seemingly nothing and the sudden lurching entry into that massive loop very late on in the game. The landscaping is of course top notch and a real trend setter for future creations, which I admire greatly.
But this still Japanese coaster is the best in the business for me and a perfect compilation of all my favourite moments from above. The rip your legs off Batman beginning (but twice as huge), the snappy inversions of Monster and a first drop that would make Silver Bullet blush. Chuck in a weird airtime hill to finish and I’ll let you off about the landscaping. Can this be topped?