Well, by the end of the Golden Age (mid 70's to mid 80's), the arcade manufacturers discovered, that if they made the games so durable that they lasted too long, the arcade owners would not buy new games. They then came up the idea to install a mechanism into the games, that would render them useless after some time. And even unrepairable by 3rd party arcade reppers. This is what is known as a suicide mechanism, but in fact the name is a bit miss leading, as it implies an active action; in fact it's kind of like the opposite:
(EDIT: Womble (RCM, AussieArcade, etc.) pointed out in a comment, that I'm on the wrong track with this theory. As he has far more experience than me, and as his explanation sounds more plausible, I think he's right. You can read it here.)
The principle is almost the same for all flavours. You take a part of the game code (usually vital for the game to run, but early examples also includes only the sound system ie Shinobi) and encrypt it before putting it onto the ROMs. Then you put the decryption key into a small block of RAM hidden inside some custom chip and add a battery on the board to keep the piece of RAM alive even when the game is turned off. At some point, the battery will run out of power, and the RAM will loose the decryption key forever. The game can no longer read it's own game code and is unplayable, and as the decryption key is gone, the game can't be 'fixed' by anyone else but the manufacture (at a high price).
Cosmetically the board seemed to be in good shape.
The #1 place to get these pre-decrypted ROM images is at The Dead Battery Society. Here you will also find instructions on how the make the appropriate hardware modifications to your dead game. I this case (CPS1), you have to first remove the battery, as it will not be needed anymore.
It's Alive! It's ALIIIIIIVE!!! MUAHAHAHAHA!};-P
Please notice though, that the select screen is a bit blue-ish. This is apparently a known issue with this game. However it does look a bit art. But the game-play is absolutely perfect.
As a last thing, I moved the old stickers over to the new ROMs,
My dear friend Charter McCloskey aka Alf81 has sent me these nice photos of him unpacking the game, turning the screen in his Egret, the game running, and a photo of him self showing just how pleased he is to be able to play his 3Wonders again };-P