Maybe half of my translated RPGs let the player choose characters. When this is an option, I like to have balanced parties. But to be more specific...
Final Fantasy 1 and Dragon Quest 3 have character types, but they don't speak a single line of dialogue. I usually choose one non-magic combat character, one healer, and one mage for attack spells. The fourth character is whatever I want at the time.
In Final Fantasy 6, characters range from "reliable" to "gimmicky." Umaro is almost useless, but I can usually give the others at least a chance.
After some time in Persona 4, it's possible to rotate characters in and out of the party. I almost always include Yukiko or Teddie, because of their healing abilities. Otherwise, I just try to keep others' levels up.
It's a lot of work to level up less-important characters in Suikoden games. I try to focus on the story-relevant characters.
In Shining Force, even if I find Jogurt, I never use this blatant joke character.