Wander Stars is a fantastically weird mash-up of Pokémon, Dragon Ball, and the power of the English language

As anyone who's been called a "stinky buttface" will know, words can hurt. A knife through the heart, a punch to the gut. Words can do some damage, so why not turn them into an all-out anime battle?

Wander Stars is doing just that, with developer Paper Castle Games showing off a fantastically flashy trailer during our PC Gaming Show. It's got a distinct 90s flair to it, with a little bit of Pokémon turn-based battling and a dash of old-school shounen battle anime à la Dragon Ball Z. All of the combat comes through weaponising vocabulary, combining words together to create devastating attacks and exploiting the opponent's weakness. Perhaps water is their Achilles heel, which makes a Special Water Wide Kick the perfect attack to string together and deal some damage.

Each word has its own unique properties, like dealing straight damage or countering an enemy attack. They're split up into three categories, too: Action, Modifier and Elemental. Action words will, unsurprisingly, perform an action like kick or punch. Modifier words affect how those actions happen. Turning a kick into a super kick will deal some extra damage, while a huge kick will transform it into an AOE that hits all opponents. Elemental words will add a little meteorological flair, doing things like burning or soaking your foe. 

It looks like you won't be able to carry round the whole dictionary with you at all times though, and will instead need to selectively equip certain words depending on the circumstances. There'll be over 200 words to collect overall though, which should make for great opportunities to experiment with all manner of Super Saiyan moves.

Paper Castle is leaning hard into it feeling like a playable anime, with battles and the space adventure story arc playing out over 10 episodes. Each episode will follow main characters Ringo—who's on the hunt for her lost brother—and Wolfe, a mysterious furry fella trying to escape his past. There'll be side characters aplenty too, which every anime fan knows is a key component for those tension-relieving shenanigans.

If all of this is sounding like your jam, then I have fantastic news for you: There's a demo you can play right now. As a lover of anime, fighting games and the spoken word, Wander Stars is looking right up my alley. I'm totally digging that kinda fuzzy retro-ness you get from older cartoons, and with the team citing other favourites of mine like Cowboy Bebop and Sailor Moon as further inspiration, it'd be criminal for me to not peep it.

Mollie Taylor
Features Producer

Mollie spent her early childhood deeply invested in games like Killer Instinct, Toontown and Audition Online, which continue to form the pillars of her personality today. She joined PC Gamer in 2020 as a news writer and now lends her expertise to write a wealth of features, guides and reviews with a dash of chaos. She can often be found causing mischief in Final Fantasy 14, using those experiences to write neat things about her favourite MMO. When she's not staring at her bunny girl she can be found sweating out rhythm games, pretending to be good at fighting games or spending far too much money at her local arcade.