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Yeah my first playthough was with Albert and Kongol. This was before I discovered Gamefaqs so I had no one to give me advice and, to my 10 year old brain, attack strength was all that mattered; I hadn't learned to appreciate the power of speed yet.
Since then I've probably played through the game 7 or 8 more times and now I'm much more partial to Haschel and Meru, but I do still like Albert as well. Meru has the unfortunate drawback that you can't start developing her until the second disc, and you won't get her crazy strong addition until much later in the game, so I'm not against going with Albert instead of her.
I've never had the patience to use Miranda though. The game is easy enough that item healing is sufficient, so I've never been able to justify using her.
Exactly me too as far as why my first play was kongol/albert, haha. I can't stand using magic, D-additions or the archers. The difficulty of the additions is the best part of this game and keeps the action high.
I like to use all the characters besides Kongol(because the programmers were geniuses when they programmed him/s) Typically I like magic over physicals so making sure I have potent mages for boss fights is high on my priorities list. Dart immediately fills the mage category well enough because Final Burst is awesome. He also is a potent physical fighter but he's forced so yep. Well I am a perfectionist and have to master every characters abilities in every playthrough. I also like to keep all character as up to date with each other as I can too. Which means for most of the game I'm constantly using the entire roster. Granted when Kongol masters Bone Crush and gets his dragoon to level 5 he's out for good. When everyone is all mastered my end game party is...
Dart as a divine dragoon mage(he is essentially the best magic wielder because the Divine Dragoon spells are op'd)
His equips are...
Claymore Legend Casque or Magical Hat Armor of Legend Bandits Shoes Magical Ring or Bandits Ring or Mages Ring(for mp recovery)
Destroyer Mace Legend Casque Armor of Legend Bandits Shoes Bandits Ring
Basher Legend Casque Armor of Legend Dancer Shoes Dancer Ring or Magical Ring, or Mages Ring.
I also switch Meru out for Miranda on occasion for the sole reason that she has higher magic and is the best Psychadelic Bomb X user. She also basically uses the same equips too besides of course the weapon.
Please Nintendo make Bowsette canon, she's amazing!