I considering blowing up the enemy a significant part of "getting out of danger". Also, as I said, Alice doesn't clear very much of the screen at all, nor does it leave you invincible very long. In that sense, it's not too likely to actually get you out of danger in the long term, since you might still be cornered or whatever. I used to think optimistically like you, but in practice it didn't pay off too well.
In terms of the shots, I tend to have one basic policy that affects all my decisions: no distractions. The more things I have to think about, the more likely I am to run headfirst into a bullet. That's why I really cannot play Patchouli at all, and Aya is my second least comfortable. Choosing which shot I'm using or aiming Aya's shots is a distraction that I just can't handle. The minor advantages of being able to shoot sideways or backwards when necessary just don't cut it for me. Staying unfocused is another thing. I'm in focus mode 90% of the time on bosses because it helps me dodge. Doing my best damage while unfocused requires me to either achieve superhuman dodging skills or constantly find temporary safe spots to stay still in and unload from. Neither of those are ideal, so I don't find unfocused damage to be a meaningful perk.
Furthermore, the "no distractions" policy even applies to aiming. Homing is essentially my first choice in a shot simply because being forced underneath the boss at all times puts me at risk when I have to go out my way to get there. Better to do decent damage all of the time than great damage some of the time. The value of this varies by spellcard though, and I found that Yukari seemed to be the best choice overall for me in SA (plus the awesome teleporting thing).
Incidentally, I hate the ufos in UFO.
Edit: This topic inspired me to go and replay SA (after having not played it in a while). I chose Marisa-Alice on normal mode, and died halfway through stage 4 (not too bad for no practice with a character I'm not comfortable with, I hope). Her bomb was not quite as bad as I had remembered, although still pretty bad, and her shot was significantly worse than I had remembered. So much uncontrollable spread, even when unfocused... I lost two lives on that spellcard of Parsee's that splits her into two and punishes you for shooting the wrong one. So many extra bullets on the screen, and I failed to re-establish a good rhythm because her bomb wasn't good enough. Well, that's just one spellcard. I guess she could be decent, but controlling the shot effectively is a bit annoying. Incidentally, I'm somewhat fond of the Portmanteau Couple Name
edited 23rd Sep '09 2:07:15 AM by Clarste