There've been rumblings regarding Sonic's return since the start of the year, and a tipster with a history of rather accurately leaking Sonic-related info has outed this year's return as a game currently codenamed Sonic Excursion, suggesting that it will release in November across current and next-gen formats.
According to a source ("Wintos/Wentos") cited on NeoGAF [via SEGABits], the next Sonic game is aiming to combine a Sonic Generations title that plays in similar fashion to the Genesis/Mega Drive titles, "where different characters could play the same levels with the only difference being their personal abilities".
The source in question was apparently privy to a demonstration conducted by Sonic Team over the weekend, wherein they showcased a level called "Shattered Heights".
"The first level is called "Shattered Heights" and is similar to the Sonic Generations incarnation of Speed Highway. Very New York themed. We were told the level was five minutes long, but they spent about fifteen minutes showing us parts of the stage's design, focusing on the lighting and shadows and how lighting was one of the main focuses for this game's design. Shattered Heights, for example, started at dawn and by the level's end the entire stage's lighting had changed to more reflect the mid afternoon. Most of the level consists of Sonic and Tails actually breaking through the windows of buildings several stories high and running through apartment hallways, office buildings, and hotel suites with Pixar-like humans gasping and shouting in surprise.
"Sonic and Tails communicate throughout the level with each other similarly to the conversations in Sonic Heroes, both commenting on their surroundings and giving you advice on how to play the game. They would often stop at areas in the level to tell us how if we were playing as Tails instead of Sonic, we would be able to fly and reach different paths that Sonic could not access, but most alternate paths were entirely optional and not forced like they were in Sonic Adventure or Sonic The Hedgehog for the Xbox 360. They really wanted to make a Sonic Generations title that played more similarly to the Genesis titles where different characters could play the same levels with the only difference being their personal abilities."
Multiple routes through levels, the return of Robotnik as well as Knuckles and Amy Rose, S-rank mission, a comeback for Emblems, a 3DS version not developed by Dimps...
...this all sounds rather promising. The source stated that the game will launch in November for PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, Wii U, PC, 3DS, PlayStation 4, and "Xbox Infinity".
But keep that pinch of salt at the ready an the rumour tag firmly in mind. No doubt we'll find out more in the next couple of months as convention season kicks off.