When playing with my girlfriend, he sometimes meows loudly at her. It sounds like he's angry because she catches him, but right after she stops he'll come back and provoke her to start an other playful fight.
Right now we don't understand if he gets really angry while playing or if he's meowing because he's excited to play. In other situation, he's not a really talkative cat.
Meowing can be a way for your cat to incentivize others to play with him. This is the case for our youngest, an incessantly playful male.
His sisters are less energetic than him. The first few months, he would play with them by pouncing on them. The girls never liked it. If he kept doing it, they would eventually angrily chase him off. But about 1 times in 10, one of the girls would actually play with him because they were in the mood.
Over time, he learned that pouncing on the girls before he knew whether they were in a playful mood would not be a good bet; he'd be chased away more than getting played with.
He developed a new tactic: he would run into the room, run straight up to one of the cats, meow in their face, and then run away. He would repeat this process about five times. If they never chased him, he tried it with the other cat, and then tried it with us.
Months later, he has now resorted to simply running around the house, meowing loudly whenever he wants to play (he seems to pretend to be wounded, based on how he meows). But the pattern is always the same: he frantically runs, stops, meows, and then runs off again. And you can really see him check if anyone is looking at him while he does it.
There's absolutely nothing wrong with him, he just wants someone to chase him (so he can then chase them).
The same may be true for your cat. Maybe he initially tried to start playtime by puncing on you guys, but you responded less welcomingly than he liked (totally understandable for you to not like getting clawed out of nowhere).
So instead, he is resorting to a different way of starting playtime, one which does not give him negative feedback.
Especially since he expects you to chase him; it seems very reminiscent of what my cat is trying to achieve. The meowing is essentially playfult taunting ("catch me if you can").