As summarized by Eric Francisco, an Inverse senior entertainment staff writer, via Scripps News: “The video game curse is just this recurring idea that video game adaptations have a really, really, really uphill battle to fight before winning over both casual audiences and the hardcore fans.” Essentially, video game adaptations are destined to fail. Look at the backlash that Sonic the Hedgehog faced for reworking Sonic’s entire design — then being forced to “fix” it by disgruntled fans.
It isn’t easy to take something so successful and so dear to many people’s hearts and somehow elevate it to another level, so HBO are brave for even trying. It goes without saying that The Last of Us is one of the best-selling video game franchises of all time, so HBO has some big shoes to fill to compete with Naughty Dog’s standards. That being said, many gamers are convinced that the series could suffer the “video game curse” and struggle to capture the same essence that made Naughty Dog’s version so breathtaking.
In an interview with The Hollywood Reporter, showrunner Craig Mazin, known for working on Scary Movie 3, Scary Movie 4 and for creating the five-part HBO miniseries Chernobyl, reassured any naysayers that he’s found a surefire way to break the curse. It’s as easy as one, two, three.
“The way to break the video game curse is to adapt the best video game story ever — not by a little, but by a lot. So I flat-out cheated.”
Those are some bold words. “The best video game story ever” has a huge weight attached to it, so such a claim shouldn’t be taken lightly. If Mazin belives he can deliver a worthy contender to Naughty Dog’s 2013 video game, then who are we to judge until we see the final product? The expression “to put one’s money where their mouth is” applies here, so we can only hope that he’ll deliver on those promises. As for Bella Ramsey and Pedro Pascal, the look the part, they act the part, but will their executive producer leave them high and dry? After all, Ramsey and Pascal — both talented actors — are nothing without the direction, vision and guidance of their showrunner.
Maybe, just maybe, with the combined efforts of Mazin, Pascal and Ramsey, The Last of Us will live up to its name when it begins airing on HBO starting January 15, 2023.